11.26.2008

Guitar Hero Robot

Man it would be cool to work at a place like Cyth Systems that pays you to build things like this!



(via Wired)

11.24.2008

Fantastically Stupid Over Scientology

Whatever you may think about Scientology, there's no sense in being so stupid you get yourself killed! The story goes that a sword wielding man was shot by a security guard at the Church of Scientology.
Police detained the guard for questioning but said that a surveillance tape at the facility backed his claim that he fired his semiautomatic handgun to protect himself and two colleagues.

"The evidence is very clear the security officers were defending their safety," said Deputy Chief Terry S. Hara of the Los Angeles Police Department. (LA Times)
Apparently this character never saw Indian Jones: The Raiders of the Lost Ark. Anyone remember this scene?

11.22.2008

Rancho Cucamonga - Short On Imagination

What's up with the good people and Rancho Cucamonga, CA? The city had one of those Freedom From Religion Foundation billboards taken down after receiving 90 complaints. Are the citizens so insecure in their beliefs that they're afraid of this:



It's not like this is one of those "You'll Burn In Hell" fire n' brimstone billboards. There's no implied threat. There's only outreach for any who need a place to turn to. And is 90 complaints all it takes to get something done in Cucamonga? Well I've got great advice for Cucamongans who want to lower their city taxes!

Seriously...90 complaints. I guess that was enough for City Hall to overcome what little reservations they had about squelching freedom of speech. The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin has the scoop:
Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, said the city's actions are "dangerously close" to censorship and a violation of the First Amendment.

"A city government has no business trying to dictate or influence the content of an advertising image, particularly one that's political and controversial as this is simply because some people don't like it and complained about it," Scheer said. "The whole point of the First Amendment is to protect speech that is unpopular, to protect the views that are in the political minority, as long as they don't cross the line and use the speech for some seriously unlawful purpose, which clearly did not happen here."
I can fairly guess that the number of complaints will rise just a little. I wonder how many it takes to get the billboard put back up and honor one of America's founding principles, Freedom of Speech? Until that happens, I'll consider the Rancho Cucamonga City Hall to be a bunch of close-minded unAmericans with unrejuvenated vaginas. And that's all I have to say about that.

(I hope you read the whole news article otherwise that's not gonna make any sense at all!)

11.21.2008

Palin Talks Turkey

Yikes! This is both disturbing and funny. It's like something straight out of The Onion (in fact, the best they could come up with was this).

Not for the faint of heart...unless you like laughing while fainting.

Karolina Kurkova - Umbilicus Minimus

1. How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.
2. Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.
3. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.

The Song of Solomon. (It's in the bible)
Too bad for Karolina Kurkova...her navel most definitely wanteth of liquor. Still, her two breasts are indeed like two young roes...I guess.

Kurkova, like Adam and Eve, doesn't really have a belly button. Rather, she has the barest indentations suggesting where the navel should have been. The obvious benefit is she has no need to worry about belly button lint. However, there's a certain sexual appeal to a belly button, the consequences of which she'll never experience. Think of all the men who don't come calling, turned away by her freakish body. She could be a Ginger, but she'll never be a Mary Ann.

Oh, and don't be fooled by some of those magazine spreads showing her with a normal belly button. It's been airbrushed in. Take a gander at the following, and see if you can spot the freak of nature...Umbilicus Minimus.




Michele Bachmann Rewrites History

So you're cruising along to an easy reelection to the House of Representatives, when you suddenly crash into a wall. That's what happened with Michele Bachmann. Remember her? She's the one who said Barack Obama had anti-American tendencies, and that the media should investigate the Congress for any anti-Americans roaming the halls of the Capitol. This happened on TV. We have tape. We have it digitally recorded. It's on YouTube. It's even on my answering machine. Days later, as her competitor raised millions and closed the gap, she denied she ever made these statements. Flat out denied it. Then she said she was tricked into it. Then she said it didn't matter anyway because the people didn't care about the issue. Then she said that Obama wasn't anti-American...but his views were.

Say, I've always wondered how far you could swallow your own foot. Bear with me...because even though Bachmann barely squeaked by in her reelection, she's continuing to swallow.

After Obama won a landslide victory. Michele Bachmann suddenly thought it was prudent to court favor with the new majority, saying that she was "extremely grateful" to see an African-American (i.e. an American) in the White House. Don't be fooled - she still has her foot firmly planted down her gullet. Recently on Hannity and Colmes, when asked about her original comments that set off the firestorm, she claimed that it was all an urban legend.

Amazing how some GOPers are still walking around in a daze, muttering "center right, center right". Some, like Bachmann, apparently can't cope and have developed an alternate reality in their mind where, like Hannibal Lechter, they pace the halls, looking at pictures of Don Rumsfeld and replaying tapes of journalists embedded with the military. Ah...those were the good 'ol days. People were actually afraid of something.

Politically Connected Blogs has the story:
Bachmann’s appearance on the Fox TV show also represented a change in tone from her most recent remarks about Obama. On Nov. 6, two days after the election, Bachmann was quoted in Politico saying she was “extremely grateful that we have an African American who won this year.” Although she supported GOP hopeful John McCain in the presidential election, she told Politico that Obama’s victory was “a tremendous signal we sent.”

Those remarks were widely seen as an attempt to soften her pre-election criticism of Obama, including her remarks on Matthews’ show that the Illinois Democrat “may have anti-American views'’ and that reporters should investigate whether other Democrats may be “anti-America.'’

Reminded of those remarks by Colmes Tuesday night, Bachmann suggested, as she has before, that she was baited and trapped by the media, which created an “urban legend” about what she says she really said.

11.20.2008

I'm Too Fishy For My Cat



When American voice recognition technology meets a British accent, hilarity ensues:

Informationweek: Users posting on the Google Mobile Blog have complained that Google's app doesn't understand some British accents, a claim that isn't entirely surprising given the use of English subtitles on certain television shows imported from the United Kingdom to the United States.

"This is fantastic, except for the North American accent bias," wrote someone who identified himself as Edward Parsons. "It actually works pretty well, but I have to disguise my (North London) accent with a terrible folksy Texan tourist voice to get results. I can see this is going to be the source of much amusement and confusion if I continue with the app..."

"Awesome job, Google," wrote someone posting under the name Kevin. "Only problem is every time I say the word 'fish' it registers as 'sex.' "

The NAO Robot

Cute. Still has a long way to go. But it's got the impacted bowel syndrome walk down pretty good.



Wired Mag has the details.

Donald Barrett, Infomercial King, In $54 Million Lawsuit

If you're like many customers who were suckered into buying products based on specious claims made in infomercials, Coral Calcium probably isn't doing you a whole lot of good. "But," you say, "I saw it on TV. It must be true." That's the power of good looking smooth talkers who buy up 30 minutes of late night air time. They're not doing it for your benefit. They don't even know you. But they know your money.

Kevin Trudeau was recently fined $5 million and banned from making infomercials that sold any kind of product and banned from publishing books for three years. The courts found he was a consummate deceiver. And now, his slimy business partner is facing the courts. Donald Barrett may have to return $54 million to his unsuspecting victims for selling Coral Calcium because he deceived customers about its benefits. According to the Boston Herald:
In July, Judge George O’Toole ruled that Barrett’s infomercial on Coral Calcium was deceptive when it promised it would cure cancer, Parkinson’s and heart disease. The judge also found that the advertisement misrepresented research published in the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine that the calcium supplement “reversed cancer.”
I really don't know how people got suckered in by this clown. The first thing that comes to my mind whenever I see him is Chicago gangster...a character straight out of the early 20th century mafia. His smugness is palpable:
Barrett, who appeared on the witness stand yesterday in a crisp blue cotton shirt and a polka dot tie, was peppered with questions from Hippsley about why income on his tax returns differed from the amount of cash deposited into his bank accounts in Beverly. “I have no idea, you’ll have to ask my accountant,” he said with a grin.
It's about time he's taken down a notch. Here's a smattering of his husterisms. No need to watch the full thing...a minute will give you the idea.

Did God Bring Down The GOP?

God has done some almighty smiting in the past and, given the results of this past presidential election, he/she/it may have just smited the GOP. Over at the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker says what I've been feeling for awhile.
As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D. [...]

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

For whatever reason, right wing conservatives have relied on religion to back their position on abortion and stem cell research. Ultimately, these issues became synonymous with evangelicals and all the silly baggage that comes with. Instead of arguing from purely moral grounds, the GOP has allowed religion to become the gatekeeper for all morality and, subsequently, the de facto spokesman for select causes that sculpt the conservative identity. As Parker notes, the GOP sought to shore up its base to the exclusion of the vast middle. Inherent in this is the assumption that the middle would be swayed by the message of goodness and Godness. How could they not?

Yet more and more, society finds religion to be analogous to nudity - keep it at home, with the doors closed and the curtains drawn. No one wants to see it. Unless it's hot.

Hmmm...I think I just discovered a new moral standard.

11.19.2008

Kevin Trudeau Gets A $5 Million Colonic

Multimillionaire infomercial mogul Kevin Trudeau has been fined for all the royalties generated by his book, The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You To Know About. That comes to about $5.2 million and it couldn't have happened to a nicer charlatan. Trudeau has a storied past with the law, mostly from the FTC bringing him to court to put an end to his false advertising practices.

In 2004, the FTC fined Trudeau $2 million and banned him from selling anything on the air other than legitimate products.
A Federal Trade Commission settlement with Kevin Trudeau – a prolific marketer who has either appeared in or produced hundreds of infomercials – broadly bans him from appearing in, producing, or disseminating future infomercials that advertise any type of product, service, or program to the public, except for truthful infomercials for informational publications. In addition, Trudeau cannot make disease or health benefits claims for any type of product, service, or program in any advertising, including print, radio, Internet, television, and direct mail solicitations, regardless of the format and duration.
In hindsight, they should have banned him completely. Trudeau was back on the air, but this time he avoided making claims for magic cure-alls. Rather, he said he knew the secret for curing what ails you and all you had to do was go visit his website and buy his book. He's a smooth, convincing talker and many people took the bait. His website turned out to be a teaser. It offered no real useful information up front. For the good stuff, you had to sign in...and you had to pay. And pay. And pay.

In his infomercials, Trudeau claimed that it was easy to lose weight. You could eat whatever you wanted and it didn't involve exercise and it could be done in the comfort of your home. All you had to do was buy his book and follow the procedure he outlined. Only, the procedure wasn't easy. It was a crazy regimen of colonics, injections of human growth hormone (both of which should not be done at home), eating only natural foods (i.e. you couldn't really eat anything you wanted), walking for an hour each day (which is otherwise called exercise), etc. For this, Trudeau was hauled back into court in 2007 for violating his 2004 orders by misrepresenting the contents of his book in informercials. Trudeau lost again and promptly appealed.

In October 2008, the courts upheld the earlier ruling and Trudeau was fined for the amount of royalties on his book and completely banned him from making infomercials and publishing books for three years! From the FTC press release:
In August, Judge Robert W. Gettleman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois stood by his conclusion in 2007 that Trudeau "clearly, and no doubt intentionally," violated a provision of a 2004 stipulated court order that prohibits Trudeau from misrepresenting the content of books in his infomercials. The judge stated that "the Infomercial[s] falsely and intentionally led thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of consumers to believe that the Weight Loss Book would describe an 'easy,' 'simple' protocol that, once 'finished' would allow the consumer to 'eat anything' he or she wants."
I don't know if Trudeau has any other legal options to fight this ruling. If he does, I'm sure he'll pursue them. In the meantime, he shouldn't be hurting for money. I'm sure he can find something useful in his latest book, Debt Cures 'They' Don't Want You To Know About.

For more information, see
Casewatch
Consumer Reports
Ridiculous Infomercial Review
WebSupp - for the latest in case law

And finally, whatever you do, don't forget to check out this hard-hitting interview. Your very life may depend on it.

Zap!

The Jeeziest* song ever. It promises to touch you deep inside. Whether it will let go is another matter:



(Wet my pants on this at Ravenscraft)


* = Cheesiest Jesus

11.18.2008

Do Not Touch

Click to enlarge - it's pretty funny.


(First laughed at over at Ravenscraft)

The Headline That Wasn't

Did you hear NASA announced that last month was the hottest October on record? No? How about now:
The world has never seen such freezing heat
On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.
That was from the opinion pages of The Telegraph, "Britain's No. 1 quality newspaper website". The Investor's Business Daily says in their Editorial/Opinion section:
Cold, Hard Facts
Despite record snows and low temperatures around the world last month, a major Al Gore supporter says October was the hottest on record.
And Barbara Sowell of the Digital Journal piles on:
Another Dagger in the Heart of Global Warming Advocacy
When GISS made the announcement last week it was shocking. All over the world were reports of unseasonal cold temperatures and record snowfalls. Even the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month of October.
Were you shocked by last week's announcement? NASA announcing that "October was the hottest on record" is certainly a headline grabber and I have to admit that I was shocked...shocked that my Google newsfeed didn't pick up on this story. I checked the major news outlets...ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, etc. I was shocked to find that none of them carried any mention last week of this historical data point in the Global Warming timeline. Of these, only FOX news has posted a quick paragraph on the matter by Britt Hume:
In Hot Water
Last week, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies — one of the four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures used by the United Nations — announced last month was the hottest October on record. That was because the institute's maps showed a 10-degree increase across parts of Russia.
So why didn't responsible news organizations write a story about NASA's announcement? You're not going to believe this but there was no announcement. Christopher Booker, who wrote the original Telegraph article, made it up. Call it a lie, a fantasy, or Booker's dream story...but it never happened. What did happen was that NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) posted an erroneous data point in their monthly tabulation of global temperature data. A glitch or a program error (or whatever) caused large sections of Russian temperature data from September to be carried over into October. That is, their particular data was duplicated, causing the overall global average temperature to be artificially high. The new data point would suggest that last October was indeed the hottest October on record.

NASA did not issue a press release, did not hold a press conference, did not send out news bulletins...they did not even so much as attempt any kind of ballyhoo around this new figure. Understand that James Hansen would practically drool over such a figure because it would, in the midst of our current economic turmoil and the transition of government power, bring the topic of manmade Global Warming back to the fore.

No, the real story here is that NASA's Quality Assurance for checking their data, especially such a notable data point, sucks. The real story is that bloggers found the problem before NASA, that their ever watchful eyes are keeping NASA honest. The real story is that this is the 2nd or 3rd time this has happened. NASA's failure to keep a watchful eye over their data publishing practices only gives fodder to the ideologues who will provide no quarter for NASA scientists. All it takes is a guy like Booker and his David V. Goliath story to spawn headlines like:

With a topic as politically charged and touch sensitive as Global Warming, NASA needs to do a better job in checking their data. Oh, they would have eventually found the error but too late to stave off the PR coup from the GW deniers.

For a more detailed analysis from real scientists, take a look at:

Mountains and Molehills, from Real Climate
GISS Releases (Suspect) October 2008 Data, from John Goetz at Watts Up With That?
and
OK, What Caused The Problem, from the ever watchful Stephen McIntyre, at Climate Audit
Mountains Out Of Molehills, from Tim Lambert of the Deltoid blog

11.14.2008

Bible Advisory Notice

Click to enlarge for legibility.

(found at BoredStop)

Wendell, the Wallaby


Wendell the Wallaby has been missing from his owner's home for the past two weeks. The owner is very worried. But a psychic called to say that Wendell was doing just fine.
Saunders said she also got news from a psychic and a medium who called to say Wendell is in good health.
Flash forward a few hours later to see the latest news:
An intrepid wallaby that escaped from its pen at an exotic zoo and went on an 80-kilometer (50-mile) walkabout across eastern Canada was found dead on the side of a road Thursday, zookeepers said.
I guess the psychic meant to say that Wendell's spirit was in good health...the body was another matter.

11.13.2008

Karl Rove Still Trying To Do Math?

Karl Rove is once again trying his hand at mathematics. In his most recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Rove pulls out his crystal ball and his slide rule to predict the outcome of the 2010 election. Obviously, he really wants to get past 2008 election cycle in a big way and look to the future, which he sees as sprinkled with honeypots of GOP victory.
History Favors Republicans in 2010 - The 2008 Election Numbers are not as Stark as the Results
First, the predicted huge turnout surge didn't happen. The final tally is likely to show that fewer than 128.5 million people voted. That's up marginally from 122 million in 2004. But 17 million more people voted in 2004 than in 2000 (three times the change from 2004 to 2008).

Second, a substantial victory was won by modest improvement in the Democratic share of the vote. Barack Obama received 2.1 points more in the popular vote than President Bush received in 2004, 3.1 points more than Vice President Al Gore in 2000, and 4.6 points more than John Kerry in 2004. In raw numbers, the latest tally shows that Mr. Obama received 66.1 million votes, about 7.1 million more than Mr. Kerry.
It is to be expected that Republicans will want to spin the democrat victory as best they can, in this case by minimizing the results and avoiding discussion about the many counties that turned from red to blue. In most of the United States, the blue component got larger, while red went down. The New York Times has an excellent slide show on this electoral shift.

So, it's no surprise that Rove is spinning. But you should also know that Rove's prowess with math and forecasting leaves a lot to be desired. It didn't take a psychic to predict that the 2006 elections would swing largely to the left. The polls were telling everyone what to expect. Yet days before the election, Rove kept predicting a GOP win. When asked about the polls, he said he had his own polling data not available to the general public. I.e. his crystal ball was special. According to an interview with NPR:
KARL ROVE: I see several things; first, unlike the general public, I'm allowed to see the polls on the individual races and after all this does come down to individual contests between individual candidates. Second of all, I see the individual spending reports and contribution reports. For example at the end of August in 30 of the most competitive races in the country, the house races, the Republicans had 33 million cash on hand and Democrats had just over 14 million.

[...]

SIEGEL: We are in the home stretch though and many would consider you on the optimistic end of realism about...

ROVE: Not that you would exhibit a bias, you just making a comment.

SIEGEL: I'm looking at all the same polls that you are looking at.

ROVE: No, you are not. I'm looking at 68 polls a week for candidates for the US House and US Senate, and Governor and you may be looking at 4-5 public polls a week that talk attitudes nationally.

SIEGEL: I don't want to have you to call races...

ROVE: I'm looking at all of these Robert and adding them up. I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math but you are entitled to your math and I'm entitled to THE math.

SIEGEL: I don't know if we're entitled to a different math but your...

ROVE: I said THE math.
We KNOW how the 2006 elections turned out. Bush called it "a thumpin'". And now Rove is using math again...excuse me, THE math...to say what's going to happen in 2010. Haughty arrogance is a hallmark of the Bush administration officials like Karl Rove. In fact, arrogance is a defining characteristic of the modern conservative, even in the face of overwhelming defeat. But as demonstrated by Rove, arrogance does not give you through math class.

Priest Debunks Intelligent Design

The arguments aren't new but the credentials of the person making them are important. Groups like the Discovery Institute will often trot out a "former atheist turned Christian" to help them advance their waning cause, as if that lends weight to their side. Their problem is they are trying to make a scientific case for design over evolution, so what matters most is the science...which they have none to support their case. In the following article, former priest Francisco Ayala shows that not only does intelligent design not fit the mold of good science, it is also an insult to God because ID (if it were true) would mean that God is a hopeless incompetent in the field of engineering.
As an example of the unintelligent design of living organisms, Francisco Ayala points to the human birth canal, which is small enough to make childbirth difficult, and the human jaw, which often comes with crooked teeth or wisdom teeth which must be removed.

“Our jaw is not big enough for our teeth,” said Ayala, who gave up his collar for the classroom of the University of California at Irvine. “Any engineer who would design a jaw big enough for its teeth would be fired.”

Attributing this design to God would be accusing God of incompetence, he said in a lecture this week at Northwestern University's Alice Millar Chapel. Instead, the situation could be easily explained by natural selection.

The Evolution of the 2008 Election


(First glimpsed at Evolutionary Novelties)

11.11.2008

Who Could Have Predicted?


Reaching back a year, I came across this statement for John Cainer's Psychic Museum in the U.K. that had just failed as a business:
After numerous attempts to make the Psychic Museum work as I had always envisaged it, I have reluctantly reached the conclusion that it is never going to happen until or unless I can dedicate a lot more of my personal time and energy.
I guess no one bothered to take that "negative margins, zero profits, rising debt" message from the crystal ball seriously.

God how I love the smell of psychic irony in the winter.

John Hinderacker's Amazing Alternate Reality


Sometimes reality is what you make of it. Other times, it depends on what you're smoking. So what the hell is John Hinderacker smoking?
Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn't raise his standards, he will exceed Bush's total before he is inaugurated.
(first noticed at TPM)

11.10.2008

Transitioning: Old vs. New

On June 25, 2001, President Bush nominated John H. Marburger III to the position of Director of the Office of Science and Technology. Colloquially, Marburger was the president's science advisor and he wasn't even confirmed until October 2001. This came nine months after Bush was sworn into office. It spoke volumes on where Bush stood on the importance of science in his administration, and the past eight years has shown that science took a backseat to policy in nearly every area.

President-elect Obama is currently undergoing the transition process. Although the individual nominated for the position is much more important than when that nomination occurs, having a science advisor in place before inauguration will send a signal on the importance of science and technology in the new president's agenda.

A Partly Successful Election Prediction

Jeffrey S. Palmer's election prediction for 2008 says
The Obama / McCain presidential race will be a very close one similar to Gore / Bush. Obama will win the presidential election by a narrow margin.

So he apparently got it half-right. Obama did win the election, but he did so by a landslide and not by a "narrow margin". However, on the same website, Palmer provides his 2008 election prediction that he made in November 2006. What were his keen senses telling him then?
I feel that there is a very strong likelihood of Rudolph Giuliani running for and subsequently winning the US presidential election in 2008. Giuliani will begin campaigning in early 2007. Senator John McCain may chosen as Vice President.
Hmmm...do you get the feeling that there's really nothing to psychic predictions other than guesswork?

Preparing For A Failed Prediction.

Barbara Soblewski Garcia says she is a professional ESP consultant. She makes nebulous predictions that often lack enough specificity to call them wrong. Thus, she can claim they are successful hits. For example, she predicts that we will discover a new planet. Now that we've developed new techniques to measure the variations in the brightness of stars as well as to detect their perturbations, we've been discovering scores of new planets each year. So her prediction is a high probability hit.

In 1999, she predicted that a woman will be president by 2015. Of course, we have to wait another 7 years to check that prediction, but she's already prepared for a failure. In December 2007, she wrote (with emphasis added):
Election years have always been exciting years for Americans. I am expecting to see many twists and turns in the upcoming elections before the Republicans give way to our new Democrat leader. There will be events in the world that leave us wondering if we will even have an election. Back in the year 1999 I had stated in my forecast, "in the first fifteen years of the new millennium a woman will be named President of the United States" Psychic predictions are not fixed and can be altered. We can certainly alter this one! The candidates all look promising and wow check out who Oprah is supporting- how cool is that!
Psychic predictions are not fixed and can be altered? How convenient for the psychic. That how you build in job security. What would be the basis for altering a prediction? New facts coming to light? If so, then she's saying predictions can be changed based on observation, which amounts to making a new prediction. But if you make predictions based on observation then you start doing something I like to call: SCIENCE.

Ms. Garcia is no psychic. She simply uses the powers of observation that we all have and selects the most likely outcome, all the while leaving herself an out by changing her selection as necessary to fit the latest data. That's both shrewd and uncouth. I predict she'll keep on doing it.

11.08.2008

More Psychic Failures

From January 1, 2008, Pernel Dove and Flash Silvermoon took a guess at who will become the next president of the United States. But since they have really really bad new-age names, they called it a prediction instead of a guess. As you can see, they are "psychics" who are also ignorant of future events.

According to Dove's annual predictions, Hilary Clinton will "without a doubt" be elected president.

The answers are in the former First Lady's energy and aura, Dove explained.

She exudes ambition, she said.

Silvermoon, astrologer and author of the Wise Woman's Tarot, agreed that America will inaugurate a woman president this year but based her prediction on a "drastic energy shift" caused by the former planet Pluto.

As Pluto switches signs from Capricorn to Sagittarius people will notice change on a personal and global scale, Silvermoon said.

She picked John McCain as the Republican candidate and predicted that write-in votes for Ron Paul will make the race especially close.

Seances, Astrology...What's The Diff?

Barack Obama held his first post-election press conference yesterday. When asked about help he's received during the transition process, he noted that he'd received good advice from all living presidents. Then he said something a little odd: "I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any seances."

It was supposed to be a little joke but it fell flat. For one, although seances have been held in the White House, it wasn't by Nancy Reagan. She consulted with astrologers. So, in one of the few public gaffes by Obama this year, he got the woo wrong. It was also disrespectful to Nancy Reagan and the difficult time she went through as her husband slowly faded away. Obama must have been feeling his oats that day and he eventually called to apologize to Mrs. Reagan.

Too late, the right wing found the one chink in his armor: Obama doesn't know his woo.

How did we ever elect a guy like that to the most powerful position in the world?

Psychic John Le Sainte Full Of Le Crap

Dateline May 29, 2008. John Le Sainte, purported psychic, confirmed douche, claims to be the one true heir to the gifts of Nostradamus. As he says, "Each Night, Nostradamus Visits my Dreams and guides me into the future as he had done 5 centuries earlier." On May 29, Le Douche gave birth to this:
6-17
October, the Virgo Candidate falls Ill,
Cain is not Able, Artery cause is believed.
Populace Revolts exerts dangerous will,
Many will believe that they are Deceived.
Le DumDum's explanation/interpretation is
John McCain will take ill about 9 days before the elections are to be held. He had been running behind in the polls and not expected to win. The timing of John McCain's sudden illness could not have been worse. The True Soul and Spirit of Nostradamus had shown me this vision about 16 months ago.

After campaigning night and day right until the upcoming Presidential Elections, John McCain will begin to seem especially tired and confused. It is only described as "Campaign Fatigue" to the press, until he collapses at a gathering on live television. He is rushed to the hospital and no "Official" word of his condition is given for over 24 hours. Rumors "leaked" to the press by McCain staffers, were that he had had a mild stroke and was recovering nicely. However, this will not be the case at all.
After this, Bush is supposed to have suspended elections, caused an uproar, mob violence, cats and dogs coexisting peacefully...

Sigh. All out of pathos. How about a cup of indifference?

Psychic Nikki Flubs Election Prediction

Psychic Nikki, the self-proclaimed "Psychic to the Stars", predicted
As for the presidential election, Nikki said she sees John Edwards in the White House after Sen. Hillary Clinton drops out of the race due to health problems.
Wrong wrong wrong. Nikki must be one of the worst psychics in history. She makes tons of predictions, gets most of them wrong, yet she still has her followers and she still makes a living at being wrong. It boggles the mind.

11.07.2008

Elizabeth Joyce - Two Levels of Ignorance

What's sillier than a psychic who makes failed predictions? How about a Right Wing psychic that makes failed predictions. That's two levels of ignorance. One sure tell you're dealing with a nutcase is how long they rant for. When I posted about her failed presidential prediction earlier, I completely missed her posting of Oct. 26, 2008. She goes on an on about how McCain will still become president, writing with venom and hate. She predicts Obama might be assassinated (yeah...she's speaking as a psychic and her predictions are about what might come to pass. Ain't that called speculation?) Here's a sampling of her tripe:
Barack Obama is scheduled to win this election, after a very tough battle. If that occurs, he may never take office. He could be stopped in his tracks. Then Joe Biden would come into office with Hillary Clinton (possibly) coming in as Vice President.

If Barack wins and does not get assassinated, then within six months something will happen on a world wide scale (perhaps a nuclear exchange) that will bring America to her knees. We shall all weep at our great mistake and wonder why we ever voted for “the man who Oprah sponsored.” (No one will ever admit to voting for Obama when this all washes down!)
Then she speaks about McCain as if he's the one pure cowboy that will come to rescue us, standing in the saddle. Finally, she signs off with
This website has no political motivation whatsoever; it’s all and only about predictions and the sake of guiding and helping others: I predict at this stage that John McCain will be U.S. President by late 2008.
And she says Palin will be VP in 2009. You know what? I bet there are some crazies out there who believe this stuff. That's what I find to be really worrisome. We've already seen the brazenly certifiables at the McCain rallies. There's likely to be more than a few of them who feel they have their own personal mandate for change.

Obama's Not President Yet

And he may never be. Why? Because Mercury and Jupiter are in opposition and, given his birth date, that's bad juju.



Elizabeth Joyce Fumbles Her Election Prediction


Elizabeth Joyce says she was born with the authentic gift of psychic ability. She claims her readings are accurate and (no surprise) has a web page full of testimonials. Here's an example of her accuracy from a prediction she made back in Jan, 2008:
For sure…my psychic sense sees that a woman will occupy the White House as vice president as a result of the 2008 election, but not president. It’s just not Hillary’s time yet, as I have psychic stated for the past three years.
[...]
My psychic sense tells me that not only will a woman become the nation’s first Vice President at the 2008 election, but she will be sworn in as president when the male president is forced to step down due to serious health issues or worse. I have also psychically stated that we will have a one-term president in 2008.
We have to ask...did Joe Biden release ALL of his medical records, or is he holding back on us?

So, what about those testimonials then? Turns out, they're as accurate as Joyce:
When I saw the news item yesterday on the Internet about Hillary agreeing to accept the Vice Presidency, I thought of you. I remembered what you said, and everything is starting to fall into place just like you wrote. It looks like Obama will be President for a short time (just long enough to make a lot of mistakes & get people wishing Hillary was President), and then it will happen.
I'm tempted to say that Elizabeth Joyce is a fake psychic, but that would imply there are such things as real psychics. Perhaps shyster is a better word. Or fraud, charlatan, pettifogger, imposture. But I like shyster best. It's derived from the German scheisser, literally meaning defecator.

11.06.2008

Epic Election Prediction Fails

A sampling from a great list of failed election predictions, proving these noteworthy folks are every bit as good as the best psychics. See the full list at Salon.

Nov. 6, 2008 | Bill Kristol, "Fox News Sunday" -- Dec. 17, 2006

"If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she's going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her ... Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single democratic primary. I'll predict that right now."

Ann Coulter, "Hannity & Colmes" on Fox News -- Dec. 20, 2007

"I think it's probably going to be Romney for the Republicans, Hillary for the Democrats."

Rudy Giuliani, MSNBC's "Road to the White House" -- Aug. 6, 2008

"And when you look at the serious questions that face us, whether it's energy or the economy, or the war on terror, I think John McCain's experience ends up being something that will win the race for him."

Tom Ridge, CNN -- Oct. 28, 2008

"I believe we need to prevail in Pennsylvania for John to win. And I think we will … I think John made an excellent choice. I've been with Gov. Palin. I've seen her energize the crowds. I know how the Republican Party and the base feels about her. John wasn't looking for a candidate to help in one state, he was looking for a candidate to help in all 50. I think he found that running mate."

Dick Morris

Morris released a book in October 2005 titled "Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race."



Believerz R 2 EZ

I just came across this comment in response to a skeptical remark about Psychic Sam who supposedly predicted Obama's win...
It is too bad that many people live inside a vacuum. If they cannot actually see something with their eyes, it doesn't exist. Do you inhale oxygen each and every day? Can you see it? Prove that it exists. I rest my case. Thank you Sam for your predictions.
This person has a point. And it's lodged in their hippocampus.

Ugh...Another CNN "Hologram"

CNN is boasting with another so-called "hologram", this time with musician/producer Will.I.Am. Again, it's interesting, cool technology with a lot of potential, but it is NOT a hologram. CNN is latching on to a flashy word for marketing purposes, but in so doing, they're confusing the public as to what a hologram really is. The closest I can find to the technology being used is called Free Viewpoint Television. It's very similar to the Bullet Time effect used in The Matrix series of movies. However, while Bullet Time was used for slow motion action, FTV is process in real time.



The following, though not a true hologram, gives you an idea of what's involved in making a hologram. More info can be found here.



Holograms Drawn by Hand - video powered by Metacafe

11.05.2008

You Can't Find The Fire If You Don't See The Smoke

Many on the right refused to see the smoke that was roiling before all America. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed.



(Found at Wonkette)

Smug For A Day

After eight years of Bush, it feels good.









Whiteboard Pong

Great way to dumb down technology...but I bet it leads to even cooler ideas. This vid of whiteboard pong is interesting for the first 15 seconds, but then you start to imagine what else you might do with it.



I think it makes for an interesting solitaire game. Maybe a right brain vs left brain competition. The winner gets to either compute a series of Bernoulli numbers or bake and decorate a cake.

Better yet, let someone with a multiple personality disorder try his/her/their hand at it. Now that's entertainment!

CNN Employs Hologram Technology During Election

CNN brought the image of an election correspondent into their studios using some new technology, claiming that it's a hologram much like R2D2's projection of Princess Leia. I haven't checked the details yet so I still have a few questions.



Although 35 high-def cameras were used to capture the moving image of Jessica Yellin, it appears that she was superimposed onto the studio image with Wolf Blitzer. Using a lot of computer horsepower that tracks the motion of the studio camera while stitching a portion of the 35 camera images together, then her image was probably digitally added to the studio shot. I don't think Wolf Blitzer saw her other than on a monitor. Note how slowly the studio cameras move, repeating the same "trajectory". Digital effects studios use this technology all the time, though in their case, the processing is done after the images are captured. And these aren't "holograms"...not by a longshot. But what makes the CNN effort noteworthy is that all the processing is done realtime. That's a massive amount of data. CNN showed that what was theoretically possible was, in fact, really possible...and doable. I'm sure they weren't the first, but they were the first to bring it to the masses.

Will this catch on? With some improvements, I think it will make a nice addition to the variety of tools that networks use. It sounds like an expensive setup and I don't think we'll see it used with correspondents in varied locations (e.g. warzones). Rather, some studios will probably be modified so you can have a roundtable discussion, for example, with participants apparently in the same studio.

The possibilities are essentially endless. Expect to see it spread in the next year or so.

Feel for Spock

How can you not with this video?



(First seen at Theorema Egregium - a new member to my blogroll)

11.04.2008

Time To Change Our Standards?

With all the right wing/left win back and forth going on in the blogosphere and the media, and the vitriol being spewed over the airwaves, one might be forgiven for believing we've lost a political morale standard. That may be (or not), but they are missing the real story. Indeed, we may have lost a standard as we know it: the standard model of particle physics!

Recent results from the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) have revealed an unseemly production of muons from b-bbar interactions (also known as BaBar by slackers). These particles have uncharacteristically leapt on the scene (pause for geek pun realization)...showing off their 1/2 spin and strutting their massive bodies, displaying penetrability that would make any electron feel impotent. I ask you, do we really need this kind of physical behavior in times like these? Yet it is nonetheless titillating because these muon-muon pairs (no relation to Prop. 8) are not predicted by the vaunted standard model. They represent new physics. And that's exciting.

You can find the lay story here, a little more critical take at Cosmic Variance (is it really new physics or bad measurements), and more technically oriented discussions for those who speak high energy here and here. If it is indeed new physics, then it should herald the arrival of a new particle. But whether it is or isn't, statistics will ultimately figure it out.

Who needs viagra when something like this comes along?

How Do You Woo?

You can woo like this:

U.S. Navy Intercepts Ballistic Missile Shot From Hawaii Base

or you can woo like this:

U.S. Navy Fails To Hit Missile Shot From Hawaii Base


The main thing that these two articles have in common is that they are the same article. One leads you to believe in total success, the other in complete failure. In today's fast-paced world, sound bites and headlines are often surrogates for the news story itself. But, as in this case, you can be easily misled. This vapid headline from Marketwatch is even worse:

U.S. Navy Independently Validates and Demonstrates Its Missile Defense System

and the Washington Post is more direct than even Fox News:

Missile-Defense Test Succeeds


The more accurate headlines can be found at Hawaii's on The Garden News:

Navy missile test is hit-and-miss

as well as the ever thrilling Global Security Newswire:

U.S. Navy Missile Defense Test Shoots One-For-Two

There were two ballistic test missiles (the big boys that could potentially carry nuclear warheads), and two ships that each fired an intercepting missile at their respective target. One hit and one missed. So, is that a success or a failure? Sounds like only a 50% success rate to me, at least on first blush. Certainly, headlines cannot capture the truth and even articles like the AP news story are misleading.

The Navy's success shows that a ballistic missile can be shot down with a Standard missile variant. The failure reveals a glitch that needs to be fixed. In a sense, a failure can provide you with more information than a success. It shows the weakness in the system...something you can work on to asymptotically approach perfection. In the case of the failed test, the Navy found the IR sensor was not being sufficiently cooled, allowing the target to hide within random noise.

All this goes to show that you can't trust the headlines. Sometimes, you can't even trust the news article to give you the full story. While being factually correct, incomplete stories can lead to spin from both sides of the anti-missile missile debate (trust me, there is a debate). During this election cycle, both the right and the left have thrown up many headlines and stories which, although factually correct, were fraudulent in their conclusions if only because they were taken out of context. Personal motivations then become a factor in dictating how far you need to delve into the headlines to find the real truth. Such is the way of the woo.

Election Day Fun

Great quality mashup. Hilarious.



(First seen at Crooks and Liars)

11.03.2008