Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thatcher has died :-(

Or not...
Just another great moment in Canadian relations....

Friday, October 23, 2009

Urban myth hits the internet. Media coverage ensues.

What can you not prove with a little mathishness? A good question.
About a month ago there was a little coverage about a pharmacy put up its online calculator that tells you the number of indirect sexual partners you've had. What is an indirect sexual partner it's someone you've not had sex with but one of your sexual partners has. Which basically is that old urban myth twaddle about you're not just sleeping with someone, you're sleeping with everyone they've ever slept with, only with a place to modify the numbers.
People take some stuff really seriously. Like these guys: The Independent. The Christian Institute. This dude. And at the risk of channeling Ben Goldacre form a moment, the common factor is that they lazily breathlessly copied the press release without even so much as a challenge to the basic assumption or the execution.
So let's whinge for a moment.
First execution. You enter your current age, number of sexual partners and your gender. Then you select the age of each of the sexual partners. The calculator uses the average number of partners for someone that age and then applies the Kevin Bacon principle by calculating back six 'generations,' again by average number.
What it doesn't seem to care about is overlapping networks. If you go out that far, a lot of the people are doubled up. Someone that you slept with has slept with someone who has slept with someone who has slept with someone you also slept with.
In other words if Kevin Bacon is in a movie with Goldie Hawn and one with Kurt Russel he's been in movies with two people not with four.  Add Kate Hudson to the mix. A movie with Kate and one with Goldie gives you 3 (including Kurt in the indirect mix) people, not six, Goldie plus 2 indirect and Kate plus 2 indirect.
So there's a built in bias to exaggerate the numbers. It's all about overlapping sets.
But the assumption is sold as STI (STD, VD or whatever they're calling it now) awareness. And this is where it really fails.
One because it doesn't tell you anything about your actual risk but instead tries to bamboozle you with big numbers. (Actual Scaremongering Headline: Average Brit adult has indirectly slept with 2.8m people! 2.8 million! Jesus Titty-Fucking Christ, that's more pussy than Wilt Chamerblain.) But what does that tell you about risk?
Why? Because safe sex with a hundred people puts you at very little risk, while unprotected sex with 3 hookers in a Bangkok back-alley puts you at a hell of one.
So what is the real assumption?
Basically it's devoted to the idea that there's an inherent taint to sex that is passed from person to person. Otherwise there's no reason to consider 'indirect sex' with someone who hasn't passed a disease on.
Imagine someone telling you that you're not just shaking hands with a person, you're also shaking hands with everyone they've ever shaken hands with. You'd think they were nuts, wouldn't you? Try it again with 'hug.' Sounds every bit as ridiculous, wouldn't it?
What what we have is pseudo-scientific moralizing...
Load of crap.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Holy Hopin’ Fuck! Now that’s some old style bullshit.

A justice in the US regularly quizzes couples to make sure they aren’t mixed race before issuing marriage license; if they are they don’t get one.

Fuckin’ fuck. In 2009 how the fuck does this happen?

And in a stunning show of cognitive dissonance these two quotes:

Keith Bardwell, of Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana, denied racism but said mixed-race children were not readily accepted by their parents' communities.


He said: "I try to treat everyone equally."

I had a great-uncle who said this sort of thing:

"There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage," he said "I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it."

I was 10 and though it was a specious argument. But he was old and from a different time…And he was a sign painter, not a fucking justice.

This guy should be run out of town, but it being Louisiana he’ll end up with a memorial plaque or something.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Great Video on the Fine Tuning Argument

The universe is not "fine-tuned"
Not really sure what else to say about this. Clear and well presented.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Krishna says no moon for you.

As long as I've been reading Bad Astronomy I thought I'd seen most of the arguments against the moon landing. They're nuts but they're based on some misperceived reality.
Through Steven Novella of the NESS, I learned of a whole new form of crazy:

Man On The Moon–A Colossal Hoax that Cost Billions of Dollars | Hare Krishna Community
Although many believe man first reached the moon in July, 1969, we have information from a very reliable source, the Sanskrit Vedic scriptures, that the astronauts never actually went to the moon. The manned moon landing was a colossal hoax.
Now I know what you're thinking - that makes sense. How do we know that the books tell the truth? Because  they're perfect. And they're perfect because they tell the truth...You know the drill.
And they lead to the inevitable conclusion:
Despite the tremendous volume of propaganda proclaiming the “conquest of outer space,” we have information from a very reliable source, the Sanskrit Vedic scriptures, that the so-called “astronauts” never actually went to the moon. Although most people hold it as an article of absolute faith that man first reached the moon in July, 1969, the manned moon landing is actually a colossal hoax.


Why do you accept the popular version of the manned moon landing? Because you believe the authority of the scientists, the journalists, and the politicians who propagate that version. When we cite the Vedic scriptures, which state that the “astronauts” could not have gone to the moon, we are simply favoring another authority. In both cases, it is a matter of accepting an authority and believing what it says.

Now, why do we believe the Vedic scriptures rather than the material scientists? Because the Vedic scriptures differ from the conclusions of material science in that they are not based on imperfect sensory investigation, but are apaurusa i.e., they emanate from God, who is beyond the material world. In other words, Vedic evidence stands above the defects of conditioned souls within the material world. Thus, when it comes to real scientific knowledge, the standard of Vedic authority is perfect because it originates directly from the all-perfect, omniscient Personality of Godhead.

The Vedic account of our planetary system is already researched, concluded, and perfect. The Vedas state that the moon is 800,000 miles farther from the earth than the sun. Therefore, even if we accept the modern calculation of 93 million miles as the distance from the earth to the sun, how could the “astronauts” have traveled to the moon–a distance of almost 94 million miles–in only 91 hours (the alleged elapsed time of the Apollo 11 moon trip)? This would require an average speed of more than one million miles per hour for the spacecraft, a patently impossible feat by even the space scientists’ calculations.

Yeah, that's the crazy. Same old special pleading, appeal to authority and circular reasoning. The big difference is it's harder to type Bagavad-gita than Bible but otherwise it's the same old shit.

And somehow this guy feels motivated to say that fundamentalist thinking could be a little bit bad:

Fundamentalism will damage society, says top scientist - Science, News - The Independent
The existence of a supernatural being in the form of a god who can dish out punishment in the afterlife may have been an important force in the past that helped to keep societies together as co-operative entities – but not so in the future.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

He could just reprint this article every couple of months...

Rick Mercer's rants on politics and foolishness are one of the things I miss about living overseas for most of my adult life. I'm sure they're not as good as they used to be. Nothing is. My, don't the police look young these days.
But in this article he nails why Canadians are ceasing to give a shit about national level politics.
Why no one wants an election - The Globe and Mail

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Okay that's funny


You may inconsistently feel the need both oppose health care reform and to berate others about charity and human decency.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Bermuda Triangle...

It's not just some place I've been hiding for a couple of weeks while we're trying to sell the flat and move a little further into the 'burbs.
No, it's also the subject of a good Radio 4 programme that's still available on iPlayer that goes a nice way to setting the record straight.
BBC NEWS | UK | Bermuda Triangle plane mystery 'solved'

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Just fucking shocking

There is just almost nothing I can say that covers my feelings at reading these things.
I don't think I can plumb the depths that this pulls the soul down to.
The fact that a) someone, anyone, can defend torture b) there exists no political will to do anything about it and, not least, c) that it could happen in a modern first world democracy, such as the US just beggars belief.
There are others with me on this:
A reminder that torture is bad : The Uncredible Hallq
What every American should be made to learn about the IG Torture Report - Glenn Greenwald -
Thomas Paine v. the Right's torture defenders - Glenn Greenwald -
America Lost

Friday, August 21, 2009

I have an addtional suggestion

How about some fucking handrails here and there. Like right next to the gaping chasms you have all throughout the inside of your Death Star?
Star Wars Design Flaws
The new Star Trek movie, good as it was, has the same huge-drop-no-handrail problem.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Believe me, the stupid burns bright

BBC NEWS | UK | Embassies plead 'big issues only'

British Embassies are pleading to Brits abroad to take them more seriously. Or at least try a tiny, tiny amount to sort their own asses out before calling the mission.
The problem is Brits asking stupid, irrelevant or outrageous things of staff and calling it an emergency.
When you look at the list of calls in this article remember one thing: your friendly gaijin here has heard things you people wouldn't believe. That list is the very least of the calls. They couldn't print the stupid ones because you wouldn't believe them.

Good news

Somebody finally said it. | Opinion | Harper consistently embarrasses Canada abroad

Well in the MSM, anyway. These guys have been on it the whole time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

That explains the pong on the trains...

I currently live in the country that coined the phrase "cleanliness is next to godliness." Coining a phrase and living up to it are two different things.
Shower-shy Britons prove a washout - Home News, UK - The Independent
Britons do not scrub up well with two in five men and a third of women failing to have a daily shower, research revealed today.

Just over one in ten (11.5%) people in the UK only have a proper wash once or twice a week, a poll for tissue product manufacturer SCA found.

This puts us behind France, Mexico and Australia in the cleanliness stakes.

When my father was with the Mounties a group of British police came over for one or another training course. During the lunch break they would remove their ties, play whatever sport fits into the story and available equipment at N Division then put their ties back on and head back for the afternoon session. My father was stunned by this, not least because he could see the faces of the people unfortunate enough to be sitting next to them.

I'm proud of Timmy's today

Today's lesson: when in doubt, vet who you sponsor a bit more thoroughly.
Tim Hortons backs out of anti-gay marriage event
Tim Hortons has reversed its decision to sponsor a Rhode Island rally held by a U.S. group that opposes same-sex marriage, after encountering fierce criticism for the move.

The August 16 event, organized by the National Organization for Marriage, is billed as a "Celebrate Marriage & Family Day." Held in suburban Providence, the rally is to include speeches, a cookout and a ceremony in which married couples are invited to renew their vows.

The National Organization for Marriage is a non-profit organization "with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it," according to its website.

It was formed in 2007 "in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures," the site says.

when criticized, they looked into who they were getting involved with and walked away.
Well done.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


I haven't mentioned our favourite Flintstone Paleontologist, Kent Hovind, recently; not least because he's serving years and years in PMITA prison for tax evasion.
Well, small update. Looks like he's still got a few debts to the government that he needs to pay off, in addition to that big ol' debt to society. So resolving those monetary type debts means that his Dinosaur Adventure Land has been seized.
As I keep saying: couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Bye Bye, Dinosaur Adventure Land | Friendly Atheist by @hemantmehta

Update: This video from the Colbert Report.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Yahweh or No Way - Dinosaur Adventure Land & Black Market Kidneys
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMeryl Streep

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The UK and Canada Converge

We’ve been back in the UK for a while now. And for some reason the confluence of Canadian and British politics has shined fairly bright to me. The overall story arcs have followed similar tracks, though the Dominion has pulled slightly ahead this lap.

Years ago, there was a Tory government in power that brought in massive changes, privatized several major publicly held companies, pushed the free market as a panacea for everything, cosied too tightly to the US, and truly wore out their welcome. This Tory leader overstayed their time and got dumped by their party. Mulroney walked before being pushed; Thatcher was pushed but when she walked away her cabinet was able to retrieve their knives.

The replacement was a placeholder and little more. Their interregnum time may or may not have had its successes but at the election they managed to take their multi-majority winning party and use their guile to begin “the Wilderness Years.” Campbell and Major disappear.

Red signs go up everywhere and the other party takes over. Because the third party wasn’t going to win, apologies to the New Liberal-Democratic Party. (See what I did there?) Our new leader gets multiple majorities and stays in power a long, long time. And their popularity withers with this time. But they stay on more or less to piss off their annointed successor, the Finance Minister, who looks on at the leader spitefully keeping them from their dream job with thinly veiled contempt. But then rather than be ridden out of town on a horse, the leader steps down and takes off into history, leaving their money manager to pick up the pieces. Said money manager pisses their life’s ambition up the wall in a matter of weeks. Martin and Brown take note because you know it’s true.

Now in the background the Tories regroup. And slaughter several leaders as scapegoats before finally ending up with someone who’s a bit cleaner, a bit fiestier and able to survive in front of the cameras, but most of all understands that it’s just a matter of time before their in.

The election came a bit sooner in Canada, but the story will be repeating itself here in a few months. Harper took over in a minority government, and David Cameron will at least do the same next spring possibly even getting a majority. He would do well to get a few back issues of the Globe and Mail to see what happens next.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Commercials and the Stars. With added Japan!

It's a weird thing watching TV in Japan. There's the endless tarento (talents) who may or may not be the most ironically named thing since the UK got a newspaper called the Sun. Then there are the endless repetitive dramas, often set in a traditional neighborhood, with their derivative story lines.
And then there are the commercials.
But, sometimes you see a commercial that hits a new low for somebody's career.
Like these ones.
The only one missing is Jodi Foster's Mt Rainier coffee commercial.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thanks for that. We knew that.

What is it with the asshats who come up with these policies? Twenty years later they're always sorry they did the thing that everyone else knew wasn't even going to work.
Hit & Run > "Legal Age 21 has not worked." Yes, we know. - Reason Magazine
"Legal Age 21 has not worked." Of course, any 20-year-old could, and probably would, tell you that. But the quote in question was written by Dr. Morris Chafet, a psychiatrist who served on the presidential committee that pushed to have the legal drinking age raised to 21. That push paid off on July 17, 1984, when President Ronald Reagan signed the new drinking age into law.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

This is the article that caused 6 figures of trouble for Simon Singh.

Beware the spinal trap
This is an edited version of an article published in The Guardian for which Singh is being personally sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association.

Click here for the latest news about the case from Sense About Science or view their Twitter updates here.

Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the research suggests chiropractic therapy has mixed results – and can even be lethal, says Simon Singh.

You might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that “99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae”. In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.

In fact, Palmer’s first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact some still possess quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything, including helping treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying – even though there is not a jot of evidence.

I can confidently label these assertions as utter nonsense because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.

In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.

More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.

Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.

Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: “Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck.”

This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Edzard Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.

If spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.

Simon Singh is a science writer in London and the co-author, with Edzard Ernst, of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beware the Spinal Trap

Bloggers around the world are reprinting Simon Singh’s artical critical of the BCA.

Support you local Simon Singh.

Britain notices the Crazy

I like the fact that the Guardian just thinks this shit is crazy.
In this Republican dystopia, Obama's not even a citizen | Michael Tomasky | Comment is free | The Guardian
Last Friday, Orrin Hatch, the veteran Republican senator from Utah, announced that he would vote against the confirmation to our supreme court of judge Sonia Sotomayor. Hatch is a devout conservative, and Sotomayor seems pretty liberal, so on the face of it, you might say, so what? Here's what.


Hatch's decision reflects the degree to which, during the Obama era, American conservatism – already fiercely ideological and obstructionist, operating according to sets of "facts" produced and paid for by oil companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and other corporate interests – has contrived to go completely barmy.

Birthers embarrass the Republicans | Thomas Noyes | Comment is free |

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This is important...

Not all terror threats are created equal. This we know from the right wing whack-a-doodle blow up some months back about Bush-era created, Obama-era published report on right wing extremist groups. We know this from the easy time the media have given the re-born militia movement in the States. And we know this from the actual use of terror laws in the UK, where the more Caucasian, and thus more acceptable, face of terrorism is handled with kid gloves and reduced charges.
Our double standards on terrorism | Mehdi Hasan | Comment is free |
The Guardian's Slow Torture series rightly highlights the government's powers to impose a wide array of illiberal and often draconian restrictions on Muslim terror suspects, without a proper trial and often on the basis of secret evidence.

In contrast however, there is a growing group of terrorists who are treated with kid gloves by the British state and by the media – white terrorists of the far-right, neo-Nazi variety.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Les Lye shuffles off this mortal coil...

CTV Ottawa- CTV Ottawa legend Les Lye passes away - CTV News, Shows and Sports -- Canadian Television
Actor and broadcaster Les Lye passed away on Tuesday at the age of 84.

Born in Toronto, Lye came to Ottawa after graduating from Lorne Greene's Academy of Radio Arts in 1948.

He joined CFRA Radio, where he served listeners for more than a decade. It was at CFRA, that he worked with Rich Little and they collaborated on a comedy album, 'My Fellow Canadians' - a spoof of the Diefenbaker years.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Becareful, the super-joints will get you.

Oh that's a fucking shock...

Really, does it come as a surprise that the police might not 'properly' use the extensive, pervasive, intrusive CCTV systems in the UK?
BBC NEWS | UK | Police 'not using CCTV properly'
The police are failing to use CCTV to catch as many criminals as they could, a senior officer has told the BBC

Just for a perspective, here's a link telling you about CCTV density.
CCTV density-maps of the UK - Boing Boing

A good plea for the reform of UK libel laws.

Even mathematicians run scared of our libel laws now | Nick Cohen | Comment is free | The Observer
"Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument: but facts and arguments, to produce any effect on the mind, must be brought before it," said John Stuart Mill. But the average British judge does not believe that free debate in the marketplace of the mind will expose "wrong opinions and practices". He believes they must be suppressed because he retains the fear of the old European aristocracy that the masses cannot see through dangerous ideas and bad arguments. To speak plainly, if I may, the judiciary has an elite suspicion of democracy and the price of its elitism is becoming too high for this impoverished country to bear.

Friday, July 17, 2009

From the War on Photography...

Kent Police clamp down on tall photographers • The Register
Kent Police set a new legal precedent last week, as they arrested a photographer on the unusual grounds of "being too tall".

What is making this ridiculous in the extreme is the fact that there's never a suspicious action or any other form of reasonable cause. Worse yet, the police overstep the very guidelines that keep getting quoted when the apologies come.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And checking in with Ireland…well, that’s kinda fuckola

If you haven’t heard of the recent child abuse reports in Ireland, hit the Googles. We’ll wait.

Pretty fucked up, eh? It’s a mess.

On the other side, it seems that there is a forming backlash against the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Part of this backlash is a movement to leave the church.

It seems that this is belied a bit by the recent passing of the Blasphemy Law in Ireland. We can take it as read that this is a massive step backward from freedom of expression. And all for a victimless crime.

The nice thing is that there is a backlash against this as well with commentary and with Irish atheists promising to test the law out.

It boggles the mind that there’s even a debate about this sort of crap.

Great Review

Warning, uses the word horseshit a lot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tanuki Tuesday

Ah, the tanuki, that strange little creature you see on shelves, in gardens and standing on their own balls outside an izakaya. What are they like?

But more importantly, what can they do with their ballsacks?

A lot, apparently.

Monday, July 13, 2009

An upside to swearing

Okay, I swear a lot. Which is why I'm glad to see this headline in the Independent.
Swearing outbursts 'can lessen pain' - Science, News - The Independent
There could be a good reason why hitting one's thumb with a hammer is likely to unleash the Gordon Ramsey within, say scientists.

F-word outbursts, like those the celebrity chef is famous for, can actually lessen pain, according to the researchers.

Swearing may be a good recipe for coping with physical knocks, their study suggests.

Scientists at Keele University in Staffordshire wondered whether swearing might have a psychological effect that increased pain tolerance.

To test the theory they asked 66 volunteer students to submerge a hand into a tube of iced water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice.

That's all fine and well except for this problem with accuracy between the Independent and the Guardian. (HT to Lay Scientist)

Revealed: Brown's secret plan to cut Afghanistan force by 1,500 - UK Politics, UK - The Independent
Gordon Brown set to reinforce troops in Afghanistan | World news | The Observer


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Beautiful Video Warning

Delivered with a British accent it sounds even more authoritative.

A bit late for Canada Day

Tim Hortons may be coming home.

Another weird development in 'merkan Xtianity

Apparently all the years of army worship in the States has reached over and seeped into the religious community. Behold, the 21st century version of the Salvation Army.

Archival Bullshit

Somewhere along the way I stumbled on this old article at Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes and looked though it.
One thing struck me - Chinese characters prove the Bible. Sure. But, as a former Japan resident, I feel I can comment on this and I will.
To elaborate. Some whack-a-doodle decided that he as a non-Chinese/Japanese speaker could prove that the elements that make up kanji actually encode Bible stories. I, as a Japanese speaker, differ.
Let's check some of the examples that Bing McGhandi cites.
沿 - The whack-a-doodle says this character means 'hand down,' and is made up of water, the number 8 and mouth. In Japanese, it is pronounced so(u) and means 'follow along (side)' or 'abut against.' In Chinese, (checks dictionary) it is pronounced yan and means much the same as it does in Japanese. So no points for meaning.
What about the components, known as - follow the jargon here- radicals? Well, buddy gets half points. This character in Chinese is made of two radicals, not three. The left hand side is the radical for water, called sansui in Japanese. The right hand side (yes, technically you can subdivide it, but we'll get there. Save the 'Dear BBC,' emails) in this character is taken as a unit, and it put in for it's phonetic value. It doesn't really bring in meaning value.
Now about being able to divide the right hand side. The top half is a two stroke radical (don't get bogged down in the technical details) that can carry the meaning of eight, but also divide or separate. The lower right hand bit is a square, that can carry the meaning of mouth, but also of entrance or opening. But to emphasise the point, it doesn't carry meaning in this kanji; it's there for the phonetic value in Chinese.
Score 25% accurate. He got the value of the left hand radical correct. No points for meaning or composition.
婪 - right. Covet. Well, it doesn't mean anything on its own. It carries the semantic value of greed or greediness. Not quite the same as covet however. So no points there. Covet by the way is 貪圖 (tantu). Again it's not woman and trees giving the meaning greed, in some Garden of Eden sort of apple munchies kind of way. Again, the bottom radical is woman, but the top radical (forest) is there for its phonetic value. Does anyone see a pattern?
Score 33% accurate.
刑 - punish. Yeah. That's true. Or it can carry the meaning of law in Chinese. In Japanese it's a dead cert that it'll mean punish. 2 radicals, left and right side. He says: offend doubled plus knife equals punish. I say the left hand side is phonetic but comes from a pictograph of a shield (the Japanese would be more likely to see it as dry) and the right hand side is a variant of the knife radical.
Fail. I can't keep scoring these things.
義 - righteousness. Yes, or justice, morality, honour, loyalty... A bit selective aren't we? Same script. Can't distinguish meaning and phonetic radicals.
Playing fast and loose with the etymology of a language you don't speak is no way to win friends.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Yes, Question in the Back?

Um, yes. You claim that Leonardo Da Vinci created the Turin Shroud and made the case recently in the TV documentary. Could you give an explanation of why the Shroud has known, documented provenance from 1357, where Da Vinci was born in 1452?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

That's Just Genius

Homeopathic A&E

That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E

Friday, July 03, 2009

You just can't go back...

after you try some of that delicious, delicious cock.
HT to Rebecca Watson. (if memory serves.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Like pee in the peanuts

Facts that cannot be supported sprout up everywhere. Sometimes they get debunked.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Well, duh...

The current meme around these parts is to say that 1 in 20 drinks in bars is spiked with something or other, leading Andy Parsons to opine that it's a great excuse for bunking off work the next day as statistically speaking one of your drinks must have been spiked.
But, like the pissy peanuts in a bar studies, no one knows where these numbers come from. They just seem to have shown up one day in the manner of a stray cat and now you have to feed it and acknowledge it as your own.
And then some one checks it out.
Drink spiking a myth: WA study :
Drink spiking is largely a myth and far more likely to be an excuse young women use after they become heavily intoxicated, according to WA research.

A Perth study of suspected drink spiking victims found claims of being given sedatives or illicit drugs without consent are exaggerated and that alcohol is often the real culprit.
On average, people in the study had a blood alcohol concentration of .096 and reported having consumed between 3.8 and 11.6 standard drinks. The researchers said they did not identify a single case where a sedative drug was likely to have been placed illegally in a drink in a pub or nightclub.

Another flowchart

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The drug warriors strike again

Just go read this.
Too much panic on the dance floor if you ask me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Google Maps Controversy

Google has been getting itself in occasional trouble a lot with Google Maps.
First there were the nude sunbathers that obsessives found in various back yards. At my lowest points, I've never had the kind of free time that would allow me to search every green space on the planet in search of low-res boobs.
Then came StreetView with its car-mounted cameras zooming around getting photos of men walking in and out of Soho sex shops or chundering up their last few pints outside the pub. With Google around it's coming to the point where you can't have a balcony wank any more without people looking in.
The latest controversy, or controversy as the English would pronounce it, has to do with Japan.
A while back Google allowed some historical maps to be layered over GoogleEarth, normally just a tool for discovering if your parked car is visible from orbit. The Japanese ones could be layered over Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka.
For me it's a fun way of seeing how neighbourhoods have changed and developed, especially to see how green the fields were around my old flats 2 centuries before I moved into them.
But, and there's always a but, old maps were not politically correct. Sections of the old towns were marked off as Etamura, or "village of the filthy masses." In other words, they showed burakumin villages. The burakumin are the Japanese untouchables, and their descendants still face prejudice.
Showing where the old burakumin areas were is a god-send to companies because they can look at an employee's address and see that they might have accidentally hired a burakumin; if they have they can find a reason to fire him. Or they can screen potential hires for the same reasons.
For some reason this has caused a controversy.
Google Earth maps out discrimination against burakumin caste in Japan - Times Online

Old Japanese Maps On Google Earth Unveil Secrets

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Just wow

Bogus, dude.

Now I understand...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A use for the internet…

At last, the internet can give you the answer:


Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Several years ago during my university days, a lady I knew got married and seemed happy, at least in the short term. Then my girlfriend and I didn't see her for some amount of time. I ran into her waiting for an OCTranspo bus and we got to talking. In the few months she'd been married to her husband, they'd come to a crisis of some form or another. She got out of it by becoming a born-again christian. Born-agains were a fairly rare species in Canada in those days. We re-established contact and the four of us got together a couple of times, but she'd become so annoying that we couldn't spend any time around her. Her personality had disappeared, replaced by platitudes and doctrine.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. The Athiest Bus campaign had been going on here for a little while. Most people didn't seem to notice outside some mild interest in the media. In one of our local pubs I spotted a couple with a button from the campaign. We had a pleasant chat and the woman gave me her button, which I proudly display on my lumbar pack out and about town. I'm not fashionable.
But the point is that my stories tend not to really go anywhere.
Except that the athiest couple I would speak to again; born-again wives, like all doctrinaires, I could barely tolerate.
So this campaign launched by Answers in Genesis (no fucking link), that bunch of anti-education dweebs who, I'm assuming, could use Barbie jewellery as cockrings, have launched a reprehensible campaign stating, no implying involved, that atheism leads directly to murder.
New Humanist Blog: Creationist ad campaign suggests atheism leads to murder
Bizarre Christian Billboard Compares Atheism To Murder?
As always, P. Zed is there
If George Tiller doesn't matter to you, does god? : Pharyngula
Reverse it all and ask yourself: If only God matters to him, what do you?


Good analysis of Darth Cheney and his inability to STFU and enjoy his Haliburton millions.
Foreign Policy In Focus | World Beat | Vol. 4, No. 21 | Nightmare on Cheney Street
Horror movies usually follow the same script. The monster — whether genetically modified, abused as a child, or flown in from Alpha Centauri — picks off the frightened teenagers one by one. After many thrills and chills, the hero drives a stake through the heart of the beast. Finally, just as we're finishing off the last of our popcorn in relief, the not-quite-dead monster makes one last attempt to dispatch the hero. It fails, but not before we've dumped popcorn all over our laps.

If Wes Craven decided to make a horror movie out of the last year of U.S. politics, he would definitely cast Dick Cheney as the monster that can't be silenced. The former vice president is Leatherface, Jason, and Freddie Krueger all rolled into one: lawless, methodical, and unpredictable with firearms.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Smackdown done right.

Thunderf00t strikes again.

Too Many Tribbles

Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 30)

What value the truth?

Every so often my mum sends me an email giving me some kind of scare about health or the Moozlims! or some fucking thing. In return I send her a link to Snopes or Just Fucking Google It. There is a dearth of facts and truthful reflection on both sides of the aisle these days. As you may have notices when checking your blogs or email. (I will say this, in the last several years the right has had a more tenuous grip on the truth)
Everyone who has something to sell or shill is prone to alarmist proclomations and those whose bias it confirms are happy enough to take it as fact.
It behooves all of us to take it easy and figure out what is true and false before we jump all over something. Otherwise we're all going to run ourselves into the ground.

JAMES EVANS: Truth essential element | | Montgomery Advertiser
Recently I received an e-mail message warning me about a dangerous and vile movie called "Corpus Christi." According to the message, this movie portrays Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals. Believers are encouraged to stand together and protest its showing.

Guess what? There is no such movie.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Decriminalization and Public Attitudes

A nice CNN video between a drug warrior and drug realist.
Milk: The Gateway Drug - Boing Boing

It does make you ask the following questions:
  • Have you ever met a drug user who didn't drink alcohol?
  • How many drug users started up by smoking?
  • Why a
re those two gateway drugs illegal?
Awaiting your answers.

Because Conservapedia wasn't well respected enough...

I give you: Tucker Carlson's right-wing HuffPo killer.
"Tell the truth, and be accurate," Carlson said of the venture's goals. "It's very important to live up to the basic standards of journalism."

I wish you luck, Tuck. With a mission statement like that how could you not live up to it?

Monday, May 25, 2009

How to Spot a Hidden Religious Agenda -- The Return

New Humanist reports that New Scientist has reinstated the article it pulled down previously.
Good for them.
BTW, support your local Simon Singh.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Aw, fuck

they've already come after geology and biology, now they're coming after astronomy.
Texas is as fucked as the little guy in the prison shower.
'Texas is only 6000 years old' by Phil Plait - BadAstronomyBlog -

Give them the power and they'll use it.

Mr Magoo could have seen this one coming from the horizon. If you give the police, or anyone if we're honest, the power to stop and search without cause, warrent or reprisals they're going to use it.
BBC NEWS | UK | England | London | Capital sees rise in terror stops
Somebody in London is stopped and searched every three minutes, according to new figures obtained by BBC London.

The Metropolitan Police used section 44 of the Terrorism Act more than 170,000 times in 2008 to stop people in London.

The best parts?
That compares to almost 72,000 anti-terror stop and searches carried out in the previous year.
Of all the stops last year, only 65 led to arrests for terror offences, a success rate of just 0.035%.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slate takes on Oprah - or What You Liked the Fucking Polio, Part I've given up counting.

Oprah has jumped into bed with Jenny McCarthy. Let me rephrase that...nasty image. Oprah is now working with Jenny McCarthy to give her a platform to spout off on her anti-vaxx bullshit. It's nice to see someone stand up and call bullshit on that one. Why is Oprah Winfrey promoting vaccine skeptic Jenny McCarthy? - By Arthur Allen - Slate Magazine
Celebrities take on all kinds of causes. They campaign for presidents, and they rally to save the women of Darfur and the hungry masses of Bangladesh and Africa. Some of these appearances may do some good, while others are merely benign grandstanding. But wealthy, toothsome, vivacious, and sexy Jenny McCarthy's impassioned campaign is actually harmful. Why? Because she is spreading dangerous misinformation—and that could bring some once-controlled diseases back into play.
Slate will necessarily lose. It's Oprah, after all. We will all lose with them and with any of the brave who stand up to bullshit. But we'll lose bigger if we don't. Get WidgetThe Body CountJenny McCarthy Body Count

Thursday, May 07, 2009

How low are your standards for honesty?

Watch a guy avoid a question with all his heart and still get some praise for intellectual honesty.

Chris Matthews 'Destroys' GOP Rep. Mike Pence On Evolution/Science Question

HT to Canadian Cynic

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Believe it or not, I actually like some stuff.

Comedians in the UK are a skeptical lot. It seems that the average comedian here is atheistic and enjoy showing their science and rationality chops. Marcus Brigstocke, Eddie Izzard, Robin Ince, Ricky Gervais all do routines you might want to swot up for.
Below, Dara O'Brian gives it to homoeopathy and psychics. Look around for his "mixed marriage" routine.

Dara OBriain Talks Funny 2008 Part [3/9]

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I know. It's old. It's still funny.

If Atheists Ruled the World

Thinking 101: Introductory Course

BBC NEWS | England | Berkshire | Programme teaches pupils to think
The headmaster of an independent school has employed a thinker-in-residence and a philosopher-in-residence to teach pupils "to think and reason".

Dr Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College in Crowthorne, Berkshire, believes the teaching of reasoning and philosophy is a "basic right".
Pupils will learn how to construct arguments, understand reasoning and also be taught the basics of the philosophy of knowledge, as part of the programme involving teachers, parents and governors.

It was prompted by Dr Seldon's concerns about the state of the national curriculum.

"We have allowed ourselves to believe it is all about exams and testing," he said.

"Education is about teaching the whole child and this involves being taught how to think and reason independently.

This may be the most favourable thing I've seen start up in education in a long time. Here in the UK the entire focus of education has become tests and pass rates. In a small way this may be the palate cleanser.

No Facials, Please. We're American.

House passes bill too gross to talk about -
The proposed new law nobody wants to talk about would make it a second degree sex abuse crime to propel "a dangerous substance at another person." That substance being semen or other bodily fluid flung out of sexual desire.

Via Reason
this is just another of those WTF moments I get when I read the InterToobz.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A note from the G20

Mercilessly scrapped from Jack of Kent.

The issue of the Tomlinson death at the G20 remains contentious here.
The problem is that there aren't a lot of facts to go on -- and they keep changing.
The basic outlines have more or less come out, with some extra facts floating around and some "facts" being endlessly hammered into you with dubious or no provenance.
There is a pretty well established pattern to these events, though.
  • Allegations emerge against the police.
  • The police say that nothing out of the ordinary happened and everything was by the book.
  • The police claim that there is no CCTV.
  • The police claim the victim was at fault.
  • A video emerges that that appears to incriminate the police
  • The police blame the videographer for taking video.
  • Public outcry leads to calls for a political inquiry.
  • The inquiry finds no need for prosecution and while there were discrepancies in the police statements and outright fabrications, there is no need for further action.
  • In the event of the charges being laid, the police are found not guilty.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ABC News Face Off: Does Satan Exist?

Now get on with your life.

Brain and Language come together.

Irrelevant minor victory for reason

It looks like Radio 4's "Thought for the Day" will now take advice and contributions from humanists. This has been a long standing chicken bone in the throat of UK humanists and atheists, but I just can't see the point.

I'm feeling a bit unclear on the concept

Would this come across as racist?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Americans Love Science

It’s a trope that I hear repeated a lot – Americans love science.

When this came up again and again during the panel discussions and presentations at TAM in Vegas back in June, it may have been Neil deGrasse-Tyson who held up his iPhone and declared it so. I commented to Friend DEG in a bit of a stage whisper, “They don’t love science; they love engineering.” And I think that this is crux of the problem plaguing skeptics in the States and all over the world. How do we reconcile the fact that people love science with the fact that they are reluctant to engage with it, to accept even its most well supported findings, avoid in droves learning anything about it, and reject without evidence any part of what makes them uncomfortable?

People love gadgets. There’s no way to dispute that. From the iPone, iPod, and Blackberry to the netbook, X-Box, and DVD player people love stuff. We get DVDs for our cars, we text friends to meet at the pub, and we nuke ready meals in our microwaves. Do people know how it works? Not really. Do they need to? No.

Let’s face it. Americans both idolize and despise the intelligent and intellectual. We saw that streak play itself out during the election cycle gone by as ‘elite' became the worst insult since liberal. To paraphrase Dennis Miller when he was still funny, is being smart in America a bad thing? Well, duh. This is a country where being called an Einstein is a bit of an insult.

Let’s face it, Americans don’t take to science too well, at least they’re selective about which aspects they will take. The results have been well repeated in the blogosphere and elsewhere about how poorly the US came out on surveys of the acceptance of evolution. Most people don’t know Quantum Mechanics from any more than a Deepak Chopra book, despite the fact that by some estimates over 40% of the American economy is based on it. The Big Bang Theory is on the Evangelical hit list as much as Evolutionary Theory. (I realize that internet polls are worthless but read through the comments.)

And their heads are filled with supposed scientific literates like:

What do they offer in return?

  • denial of an expert’s expertise on the basis of what feels right.
  • weak praise for science while gutting it
  • down right dismissal of the implications, conclusions and substance of science

And yet an enjoyment of the fruits of science. I suspect that those in science, and the interested laymen (like myself) will continue to be in the minority and will continue to have to speak out against pseudoscience, logical fallacy and religious intrusion in education for years to come. And with the Goodyear controversy in Canada and the increase in pseudoscience like the MMR vaccine hoax in the UK, those of us from or in other countries will have no reason to be smug.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Quote of the Week

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Good News and Bad News in Texas
And my favorite bit of stupidity from the whole thing:

12:41: McLeroy: "I disagree with all these experts. Somebody has to stand up to these experts. I don't know why they're doing it."

Wan-giri crosses to North America

The Japanese scam called Wan-giri (from One and Cut) has crossed the water according to the Ceeb. Basically you get a call that rings once then hangs up. You call back and get an outrageous charge on your phone bill for erotic call services.
'Missed call' scam could put erotic chat charges on your phone bill

Days I Hate My iPod

The other day the daily podcast was Dinesh D’Souza. I should have deleted it right away. I’ve seen him in debates a few times and he gives me aneurysms. He tends to think that louder is more logical and his over-reach in crediting Christianity with everything good that’s ever come along.

This particular eye crosser was a flagrant case of special pleading and conflations that left me wishing for a sprained nutsac to relieve the pain. The title was that D’Souza credited Christianity for India’s successes. Well listen to it for yourself.

Some part of me just keeps saying what the fuck?

One: How does this universal dignity of all men, white or brown, square up against the general pattern of history in India, or anywhere where the Portugese had a colony?

Two: Flock. Really? People flocked to Christianity? Currently 2.3% of the Indian population is Christian.The three states with a Christian majority (Nagaland, Mizoram, and Meghalaya) are all Northeastern, and were never colonized by the Portugese. Even in Goa, a Portugese colony, the Christian population is still only 25%, even with the forced conversions.

Three: The aforementioned universal dignity was also why people fled to Islam, because of its common Abrahamic root.  (13.4% of the population)

Four: When he says that India’s position in Western culture as an English speaking, technologically adept society…and that’s when I said fuck. Really, Dinesh? India is positioned at all in Western culture. A lot of Indian’s speak English, but seriously how the fuck can you count India as a Western nation.

Five: The point of four though was that D’Souza massively conflates Westernization and Western cultural influences with Christianity.

So I had a few extra questions.

  • Because of this influence of Christian respect and dignity for all, how’s India’s record of tolerance and and human rights?
  • Because it’s success is so dependent on Western (X-tian) what percentage of India’s leaders in business and politics are Christian?

Is this shit really worth writing about?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Odd - Should You Get a Debaptism Certificate?

I'm not entirely sure what I think of this:

Debaptise Yourself!
It seems like tacitly asking for the approval of a church and a god that you don't actually believe exists. As someone who was born and baptised as a Catholic, I can say from my own experience that it's something you can get over -- much as you would get over a cold. Removing yourself from baptismal records seems like allowing the church to which you won't submit to still have a hold over you.
Still no harm, I just think it's a bit irrelevant. I certainly can't be arsed to trail myself all the way to Sydney to expunge myself from the records.

More here if you're interested.