Sunday, October 03, 2010

More crap reporting

The standard of science reporting in Australia is generally crap. Although it shouldn't surprise me since the average Ozcah and Mersaydees has very little science knowledge. Not only that, critical thinking is alien to most; Exhibit A: Powerband bracelets. Just look at the number of footballers who wear this piece of crap. Thomas, Pendlebury, Cloke, and O'Brien just to name a few. Note to Harry O'Brien - it's dangerous when those that think they are intelligent are, in fact, not. These guys would fall for Jedi mind tricks. (I know, I know, but if you believe in it, it must be true. Plus I don't think it would be hard to convince footballers.)

Look at this headline for instance:
NASA discovers brand new force of nature
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

This is not what NASA has said. Basically what they are saying is that they can't think of why the Pioneer anomaly exists. The Pioneer anomaly was first observed back in the 80's. John Anderson found that there was an extremely small acceleration on the Pioneer 10 and 11 space probes that wasn't accounted for. Now this effect is really, really tiny. Some of this acceleration was explained by considering the uneven heat distribution around the probe. But basically we don't know what is causing this acceleration.

What NASA is saying is that MAYBE there is a new force that MAY be causing this anomaly. Notice the use of the word MAY. For those writing headlines, look that word up in the dictionary and don't make shit up.

Another thing, this is filed under your technology section. Rename it. This is not technology. It's, if properly reported, science. Again check your dictionary for the meaning of those two words.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Harry Potter flew: Wind is the answer says scientist

A computer engineer has created a computer model showing how it was possible for Harry Potter to fly using natural means. Sudden gusts of a powerful wind like a vortex could, in theory, have made it feasible that Harry Potter didn't need a supernatural cause in order for him to fly.

This should be online front page news! Why not? This was.

Wind could have split Red Sea, scientist says

The parting of the Red Sea is one of the many miracles described in the Bible and a spectacular feat of early special effects in the 1956 Hollywood epic The Ten Commandments.

But now a Christian engineer claims to have proved the phenomenon has a basis in science.

First of all, notice how a computer programmer in the story becomes a scientist in the headline. Wow. The sub editor probably thought that since a programmer and a scientist may use a computer for more than just email and facebook, they must have the same amount of training in, well, nerdiness. So they are the same thing, right?

Also, a computer program itself becomes science. No! A computer program is written to help develop a hypothesis. The hypothesis itself may be completely wrong and thus the program. Science is what we do to determine if the hypothesis has credence or not.

Before we even try to explain a phenomena, surely the first task is to determine if the event even took place. Now in the case of the Exodus, there has been no archaeological evidence what so ever that such an event took place. Here are some references:

Did the Red Sea part? No evidence, archaeologists say
The exodus
The Bible Unearthed

Anyway, here we have a Christian apologist, Carl Drews, (who in this case should really be called a Jewish apologist since this really is a Jewish story and not a Christian one) writing some code and fiddling with some parameters. It turns out that by tweaking the parameters just right, the program can cause the waters to separate. And of course, if it can happen on a computer it must be able to happen in real life.

Now have a look at something he wrote in one of his essays discussing another event in the bible:

2. The sun moved backwards for Joshua and for Hezekiah.

Here we encounter our first hoax, involving Harold Hill and the NASA computers. It was a sin to make up this hoax. It is a smaller sin to propagate it without verifying the facts, but certain evangelists do just that. The idea behind the story is to make up some scientific-sounding story to explain a Biblical event. This pattern appears later in creationism literature, in supplying details of the catastrophes claimed to be part of the Flood events.

My objection to the Biblical story is that I don't see how this could have happened without leaving some geological trace, and without the Book of Jashar mentioned in Joshua 10:13 I don't have enough details for a good analysis.

Your honour, I rest my case.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A few simple questions

Ages ago I asked my grandfather the following questions mainly because I wanted him to understand the way my philosophies have been shaped.
  • Do you only follow your faith because that is what your were born into?
  • If you were born into a different religion, would you have been just as ardent in your faith?
  • When and why did you stop believing in ideas such as Father Christmas or the Easter Bunny?
  • Do you apply this reasoning (ie. why you stopped believing in the Easter Bunny) to all aspects of your belief systems?
These should be questions that everyone must ask themselves in order to justify whatever belief system or philosophy they follow. And the answers must be consistent.
I find it amusing that my grandmother is so proud of me that as a 12 year old I read the bible. And when she asks me why I don't go to church or believe in a god, she seems amazed that the answer is "because I've read the bible".

On reflection, here are a few more questions that I could have put to him.

  • If there was no god, would you still act the way you do?
  • Would you completely change you morals?
  • How would you determine if something was right or wrong?
  • If there was no afterlife, would you change the things you do to improve this world rather than hoping the next one is better?
I don't know if any if these question would have made him seen the world through my eyes. Most likely not.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Deadpool '10 update

Vale former Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon.

His passing means there is an update to the leader board.

I've hit the front.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Anglican Church: Asset Rich, Income Poor

Just saw a report on St Paul's Cathedral in Bendigo. The 140 year old building has been closed for over a year because of structural problems. They need to spend about $1 million to fix it up.

You would think that repairs to such an important building for the Anglican faithful in regional Victoria would be funded by the Anglican church. No such luck. As I heard on the report, they are asset rich, but income poor. They have been asking for donations and now they are asking for government assistance: “Come on, Mr Brumby, help us out.” Shouldn't it be "Come on, archbishop Dr Philip Freier, help us out."?

How would the masses react if some extremely rich individual, who had assets in the $10's of millions of dollars, asked for a government handout because he had no income but didn't want to sell his TV's or cars? Two words I think, *** ******! They would say sell some of your assets and live off that.

So if the Anglican church was so intent on fixing the cathedral, they would sell something to pay for the repairs. Since they won't, it means they don't. And doesn't this reflect on their attitude towards the parishoners? Thanks for your patronage and money over the years, but we wash our hands of this and if you want it fixed, do it yourselves.

Religious organisations asking for public money, crying poor. What a crock.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The face of an image created by a 14th century artist

Well, this should be the heading for this article published in The Age. Instead we get "Technology and shroud give Christ a new face", with the byline "Scientists recreate image of Jesus - and he's nothing like the Renaissance depictions." Ummmm, it's extremely like a Middle Ages depiction of Jesus, because that's when it was created. All the evidence points to this. Check out this powerpoint presentation (12MB) outlining the evidence. Some one even created their own shroud using techniques that were available in the middle ages.

The shroud was carbon dated back in the 1980's and that showed that it was made around 1300. Now the believers come up with all sorts of arguments to say that the dating is all wrong. The usual claims are:

1. The guys doing the dating got it wrong. But three separate labs all got the same answer. There were also other fabrics sent as controls. The labs had no idea which fabric was part of the shroud. Each piece of fabric was correctly dated.

2. The pieces of shroud given to the labs were from a damaged section and so the dates are misleading. Let's think about this for a moment. The Vatican themselves were the guys in charge of removing the pieces. Why would they want to take a piece from a damaged section? Well, if they knew it wasn't genuine, then they could keep the controversy going. So that would mean it's a fake. If they believed it to be genuine, then surely they would want the science to back up their claim. They would be extremely careful to pick a pristine part of the shroud for analysis. Then the dating is correct and it's still a fake.

And as per usual, before the test the believes said that they would recognise the results of the carbon dating. And then was the tests were done, they didn't recognise the results. That's a classic example of being dogmatic and closed minded and not accepting the evidence.

If they were so concerned that the dating was wrong, let's retest. You would think that would be a pretty simple thing to do. But guess who doesn't want to do it. Wny? For the same reason that it was created in the first place. There's no business like the relics business.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mackillop's choice

So for the 25% of Australians who look up to a former member of the Hitler youth, today is a big day. They may get a saint. What is a saint? According to, a saint is:

- "the standard operating model for human beings."
Operating model sounds like operating thetan. Smells of L. Ron here.

- "Christ’s bride, totally attached, faithful, dependent."
And we thought they were against same sex marriage.

According to, saints are

- "persons in heaven (officially canonized or not), who lived lives of great charity and heroic virtues." So why bother with the whole canonizing circus? This page then goes on about how JP II proclaimed at least 278 saints.

It also states that "In official Church procedures there are three steps to sainthood: one becomes Venerable, Blessed and then a Saint. Venerable is the title given to a deceased person recognized as having lived heroic virtues. To be recognized as a blessed, and therefore beatified, in addition to personal attributes of charity and heroic virtue, one miracle, acquired through the individual's intercession, is required. Canonization requires two, though a Pope may waive these requirements. Martyrdom does not usually require a miracle." No need for miracles, just get yourself killed in action.

For those 25%, the miracles are probably going to be believed as such without rigorous questioning. For the other 75%, surely we should be getting good journalism asking the question, are these events really miracles? i.e. can't be explained unless evoking a god. I've only seen two articles ask this question, here and here. All other media has been unquestioning and pandering.

I also question the claim that they have been using science to prove these are miracles. They obviously have no idea what science is. Science doesn't prove anything. It can only measure how probable an explanation is. It's a way to find out the most probable explanation using the evidence available. It tries not to bring in unjustified assumptions such as unfalsifiable supernatural beings. So if they were really using science, they would come to the conclusion that the most probable reason for the so called cancer miracles are chance remissions. These do occur.

So to paraphrase a cook who some thought wore a brown shirt, "No miracle for you!!!".

Monday, February 01, 2010

Nearly five years

I've just read an article in the Sunday Age Life magazine that resonated with me. Sarah Wilson wrote about how she doesn't drink anymore and how at parties and functions she has to explain her reason (it used to be a health one). I know exactly what she means. I've also explained it as a health reason, which it was. But why in our society do you need to have some problem to stop drinking? It's a sad indication of how endemic alcohol is in our culture.

It's nearly five years since my last drop and at the moment I have no inclination to imbibe again. Just like Sarah, I've found this an interesting experiment, both as an onlooker of society and as a study of myself. I've changed during this time, having to be discover who I am and to be myself without the use of a crutch. Now in conversations I want to delve deeper in topics and question and argue points. The problem being, sometimes others in the conversation, if they have had too much to drink, stop making rational points and the conversations begin to stagnate and bore. At other times, the conversationalists have little to talk about because they only have a narrow range of topics they can discuss, mainly work and, ah, work. Their solution, grab a beer.

I've been asked if I'll ever drink alcohol again, and the answer is I don't know. But one thing is for sure, it won't be because of the reasons I over indulged in the past.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who are you?

When Herman Rockefeller went missing, I suspected that he had a double life that included a secret girlfriend. I imagined him finally being caught, and having to confess to his distraught wife and family. I was right but also so wrong.

But what makes someone like Herman lead a double life? Was it because Herman couldn't express his innermost feelings to his wife? How shocked must she be feeling right now? Was he afraid to be himself? And if he did attempt to communicate who he was, was he rejected?

Here is an extract from the book 'Anatomy of a Secret Life,’ Dr. Gail Saltz, which looks at this issue. Here are a couple of short snippets:

We all have secrets; we live and breathe them every day. We may not know what one another’s secrets are, but we know they’re there. They’re always there, invisible presences in everyone’s lives, the subtext beneath the text, the almost uttered but then swallowed sentence, the cryptic, fleeting expression on someone’s face. Humankind’s basic needs are food, water, and shelter, but secrets aren’t too far down the list of essentials. They provide a safe haven that allows us the freedom to explore who we are, to establish an identity that is uniquely our own. But even the deepest secrets can also be shared; they are the currency of close relationships, the coin of exclusivity, sometimes the key to love itself.
Under some circumstances, however, secrets can also be profound sources of shame, guilt, anxiety, despair.
But when our secrets start to control us — and far too often they do — then a normal life clicks over into something else: a secret life. When that happens, everything changes. Suddenly we find ourselves forced to give up any remaining vestiges of openness and casualness and instead submit full-time to the exacting rules that the secret life inevitably demands.

Does everyone live a secret life to some degree? I think so. Do I lead a double life? Sort of. This blog is anonymous in that my identity is nowhere linked to it. Why? For one reason, because of the profession I'm in. I'm an actor who plays a certain character and my audience should only see that character. Also, it would not be good for my career, considering stuff I've written.

Is this hidden from my family? Yes and no. Most of my family don't have the internets, so it's no big deal. I've mentioned to parents about stuff I've written on my blog and they roll their eyes, so they don't ask what the address is. They probably get enough of my rantings.

This has got me thinking of those that I know personally who lead some what of a secret life from their partner. Should I do anything about it? What are the consequences if I did? Is it really my business? It's a lot to think about.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

First one is down in 2010

Chemical Ali has finally met his doom, and Ms Dodo has the first hit. And we also welcome Jade.

Friday, January 22, 2010

First entries in

The first entries for the deadpool are in:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Deadpool 2010

Is anyone interested?

Added: OK I run this again this year. Give me your ten before end of january. Here are the details.

It starts when you put your entry in.

Here are my ten:

Laurent Fignon
Seve Ballesteros
Byrant Gumbel
Tionne Watkins (T Boz)
Margaret Thatcher
Ronnie Biggs
Don Rickles
James Garner
Dennis Hopper
Zsuzsanna (Zsa Zsa) Gabor

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I'm a bailiff....I stand.

Should holiday's be spent watching reruns???? Am I wasting time lying on the couch watching season's six and seven of The West Wing? Maybe. Maybe not.

While thinking about having a break from The West Wing, my mind cast back (I have no idea why) to the shows I loved to watch back in the 80's, two of which were Night Court and Soap. So, what do I do? I try to get my hands on these shows. Will it be the case of nostalgia clouding my memory? Will they disappoint this time around?

Well, I got a copy of season's 1 and 2 of Night Court. Let me say that season 1 starts slowly but by season 2, it had me laughing just like the first time I watched. It had some fantastic characters. Dan Fielding (played by John Larroquette) is a sleazy right wing district attorney. John won four emmy awards in a row for this role. But my favourite character is Bull Shannon (played by Richard Moll). 6 foot 8 inches of superb comedic delivery. And as a teenage boy, who couldn't forget Markie Post playing Christine Sullivan, the naive defending attorney. Classic 80's hair.

Verdict: It holds up well and still produces laughs.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

And the '09 Deadpool winner is ......


I would be surprised if any deadpool competition had someone who had a 60% strike rate. Unbelievable! I don't think that we will ever see this type of "success" again, whether it be points wise (126) or number of hits. And I wouldn't get her mad, 'cause if she puts you on the list, your time may be nigh.