Monday, May 28, 2012

Freak? No -- I am officially an ass.

'Tis a tale of woe, a tale of creativity, and of a subject not even worthy of mentioning in my life; two Facebook unfriendings. Also, dry erase board-drawings:

may 173 Drawing George Hrab

This was May 20th, the day that I missed the eclipse because it was raining, the day that I wore men's underwear and was delighted to find that it doesn't ride up on me, and also the day that I decided that the well-used, beaten-up pieces of whiteboard (which used to be my own single piece, the brutes!) was good enough to use for practice sessions.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rudy and Russo's Big Gullibility Experiment

This post, which includes video of UFO hoaxters exposing their own trickery, is actually an article I wrote for my Corrigendopedia website back in 2009, back before I even had my own computer.
` Since it is not only awesome, but requires absolutely no effort on my behalf, it's the perfect thing to post when I'm devoting absolutely no time to writing new posts. (Busy with school and a million other things -- but only until June.)
` This is it:

Some folks are fascinated by the fact that so many people can mistake, for example, a water bird for a lake monster (that is, until they see it fly away) or even believe that the well-known and simple deceptions of a cold reader are actually genuine psychic powers.
` In November of 2008, two friends in New Jersey were having a discussion to this effect. These friends, science teacher Joe Rudy and talented skeptic Chris Russo decided they needed to pull a stunt to help open people's eyes about such self-deceptions. According to their article in Skeptic magazine (Vol 15, No 1 2009);
We brainstormed the idea of producing a spaceship hoax to fool people, bring the charlatans out of the woodwork to drum up controversy, and then expose it as nothing more than a prank to show everyone how unreliable eyewitnesses accounts are, along with investigators of UFOs.

How to do it? Attach ordinary road flares to three-foot-diameter balloons via fishing wire and duct tape, inflate said balloons with helium under the cover of a wooded area between Hanover and Morris Plains, then let them go at fifteen-second intervals. Importantly, to demonstrate that they are not part of a government cover-up, as so many 'conspiracy theorists' would claim, Rudy and Russo would thoroughly video-document themselves doing so.
` The resulting 'Undentified Flare Object'-launching footage looks rather like this 'drawring' of mine, if you squint....
aug 126 Launching the Morristown Flares
Their first launch was on January 5, 2009, and was followed up by four more launches in January and February, each one receiving overwhelming attention from news outlets and conspiracy theorist networks alike.
` On top of this, Rudy and Russo pretended to be mystified eyewitnesses in a television appearance on News 12 New Jersey and a radio appearance on the conspiracy-promoting Jeff Rense Program, as well as a live appearance at a Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) symposium all the way over in Illinois! (To be fair, MUFON had recognized it as a hoax right away.)
` If that weren't enough, they also pretended to be dumbfounded about the results of their first launch on one small section of their documentary video, which they displayed both at the MUFON symposium and on the popular internet video site YouTube, garnering even more attention from all over the world!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Changing my habits...

Many things have happened, but I'm only going to talk about a few of them. And post this picture of the sunset from the other day:

may 170 Not actually double sunset

May 14, 2012:

PREDICTABLY, I talked to my psychologist about my inability to work with noise in the background, thus structuring my life around opportunity. Of course I cannot force myself to keep going without beating myself up, but what I can do is calmly sit for two minutes while doing nothing, thus at least keeping myself in the room. This should open up some new doors.
` I sure can't wait to get these two roommates out. I came home to one of my drunk roommate's friend's car in the driveway, and them playing music below my office, which I can only block by closing the door of my office and bedroom and going out into the living room.
` I had just bought some groceries and was sharing some cookies with Lou Ryan and Brianade, and didn't bother putting the package back in the cupboard until half an hour later, and by then there was no need, as all the cookies had been eaten.
` Apparently, the drunk roommate thinks that when I leave a partly-eaten pack of cookies on the counter, that the rest of the cookies are for him and his friends. Should I talk to him about it? Since he's on his way out and threatened to call the cops on Lou for wanting him to stop blasting his music at 4:30 in the morning, maybe I won't bother.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Creationists at Skeptic Night

(Last updated: May 23)

I've finally completed the many hours required to write about an event that happened on April 17. On that date, the Seattle Skeptics meeting was packed with science enthusiasts eager to hear members of the Creation Association of Puget Sound talk about why they think that the earth is only thousands of years old.
` We were disappointed that they didn't have any "new evidence" for a young earth, as had been promised, but at least we were thoroughly amused: This photo is of Neil Huber (who earned a real Ph.D. in biology), deluging us with bass-ackwards bible logic that has nothing to do with evolution, while the audience tries hard not to laugh out loud:

apr 141 Creationist #3

You can see why we would be disappointed when you take a look at the description for this event from our group's Meetup page, at which point in time there was already a waiting list. Here's the beginning:
Konnichiwa Seattle Skeptics!!
 Ok, well I've never updated an event that was actually full to capacity while I typed- so either I am really late with this update...or holycrapthisisgoingtobeapopularevent!
  (This month I'm going to keep my skeptical pre-soak banter to a minimum to give our guest speakers as much time as possible to present.)
 This month our speakers are from the Creation Association of Puget Sound (CAPS) and they are here to give a talk titled:
 "The Young Earth Hypothesis"
Just after this event, my Creationist Roommate (or "CR") left me some commentary on a Facebook post of mine, saying that I am too proud and not scholarly enough to actually take a good look at "creation science", the assumption being that if I had, then I would begin to doubt the fact that the modern theory of evolution is one of the best-supported scientific theories of all time and is the only way ever known to explain or understand all species ever discovered, and is consistent with (if not supported by) everything we know, not only in all of biology, but in chemistry, geology, astronomy and even nuclear physics.

Of course, CR has admitted to not exposing himself to the subject of evolution past the level of children's books -- and that was around 20 years ago -- so I doubt he could have any real or accurate memory of even that.
` As for me, I've spent over ten years off and on studying evolution at a college level (sometimes even at college!), all the while reading creationism articles of varying levels, and have recently been shaking off the rust.
` Part of this has involved many months of asking CR for suggestions in the creationist aspect of my research (heaps of which I showed to him). He said that a lot of the sciencey stuff went over his head, and thanked me for having so much more enthusiasm for such research than he did.

In a nutshell -- which I shall expand upon in other posts -- he shows a very incomplete understanding of what the scientific method is, as well as basic scientific concepts and theories. Yet, he also seems to think that he knows more than enough to be certain that I'm wrong, despite his admissions that science is not his strong point.

Why is he so certain that I am wrong, to say nothing of almost all of the world's scientists? I am willing to bet that it's because, he claims, God Said So, personally telling him of the world's six-day creation less than 7,000 years ago. Because pretty much all scientific fields show a distinct story that is obviously different from What God Said, that means that science must be an anti-God conspiracy/satanic religion led by the devil, instead of actually science.
` Therefore, the reason that I, Spoony, think that science makes sense must not be as much because of my understanding of it, but because I prefer to be led by sin and temptation. He says that's because there are only two paths to life, and if you don't believe that everything in the bible is literally true, then by default you're following the path to Satan.
` And as for the majority of Christians in the world who accept the earth's long history and the evolution of species? They're not really Christians because they don't believe that the entire universe originated many millennia after humans had begun domesticating plants and animals -- and yes, many of them don't believe in the Jesus-or-hell thing, either. For those sinners, presumably, Jesus will not be clicking the 'save' icon.

So, when you look at it that way, that would seem to make it sensible to call me proud and accuse me of not having done my homework, right?
` But, I digress -- this post is about the creationists from CAPS and their presentations (which they seemed to have copied and pasted from creationist websites), so let's take a look:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Do I DO too much?

As promised, here's a picture of Vada from May 6, chirping at me from the roof outside my window! She even has two heads!

may 054 It's blurry-head Vada!

I have more pictures -- and nicer ones, too -- but first I'd like to be frank, even though everyone calls me Spoony. You see, not only is my BlogLife passing me by, but so is my actual life.
` I felt so much pressure to get this homework assignment done (read: was literally wracked with dry heaves and a severe headache) that I stayed home from this (taken from Town Hall Seattle website):
Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 7:30 – 9:30pm
Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. $5.
Drawing on a surge of new research, Leonard Mlodinow unravels the complexities of the subliminal mind and reveals its profound influence. The bestselling author (The Drunkard’s Walk, which he brought to Town Hall in 2008, and the new Subliminal) examines how the mind’s subliminal processes, not the conscious ones, largely drive our experience, perception, behavior, memory, and social judgment—a realization that can help us recognize and avoid common pitfalls in our work, lives, and relationships. Presented as part of Seattle Science Lectures, with Pacific Science Center and University Book Store. Series sponsored by Microsoft. Series media sponsorship provided by KPLU.
*Sob!* Not only did I miss out, but have still failed to complete the assignment. In related news, I feel as though I've developed an ulcer. If this stress-induced illness gets much worse, I'm also going to miss school tomorrow, and there's a test, which I should be great at!

Lou Ryan has suggested that I learn how to relax. Sounds like a good idea, however, doing so often foments regret in the churnings of my mind. Why's that? Well, just follow the churnings:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Yet More Journaly Bits Since Last Post

Although documenting things that I am busy with besides science writing were once something that I'd hoped that I could do less of, I kind of see this as becoming a theme, especially because these are so much easier/faster to write. Not to mention, they tend to be shiny!

may 005 bluebell detail 

The events of this week start out surprisingly mundane, considering their overall strangety levels...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I still have my 'dedicated face' on....

Arrgh, I have so many drafts, because there's a million things to write about! Maybe I'll just make a post that's all my shortest drafts smashed together incoherently? Seriously, though, it's like my bloglife is passing me by!

(Edit: As it turns out, there's much more to life than just blogging. Checking out the wildlife around my house, for example...)

apr 168 Eagle still in the lead!

Making more than one post a week may have worked when there was nothing important for me to do, but now I spend my time with school and athletic endeavors, spending time with other people, and cleaning up after practically everyone in the house. (Kudos to cool roommate Brianade for collecting the dozens of garbage bags and gathering them up in contractor cleanup bags for free garbage removal day!)
` Yesterday, superhero Lou Ryan said he thought he was the only one who cleaned up the garbage that was thrown on the counter instead of the garbage can, but I let him know he's not the only one!

Speaking of Lou, he didn't get the part of Sasquatch for the Brooks shoe commercial (too bad, because that would have been funny -- perhaps it was because he was too short?) but he did get the part of a hop-head in some big-time movie. It may be a small part, but he will at least be in the credits!

I've also been spending very long chunks of time working on making my own planner-organizer, for keeping track of school, blogging, other projects such as music, opening and responding to email, keeping house, etc.
` I also spent a huge amount of time cleaning out my bedroom closet for the first time, washing six loads of laundry (including my clothes that have been in storage for over a year) and putting much of it in the closet, as well as preparing Spanish-teaching tools for Brianade, which has also taken way too much time.

However, every time it seems as though I'm not making much progress, I think about my crazy roommate. Take his latest crazy behavior, for example: