Random Thoughts

Queens of the Geek Chic movement, the Skepchicks, have announced their second annual Skeptical Drink Contest.  Last year's skeptic themed drink winner was the apparently tasty Sylvia Browne (no thematic taste of cigarette butts or vague predictions) with the runner-up and people's (i.e., alcoholics) choice being the aptly named mix of tang and vodka, the Buzzed Aldrin, which is doubly cool because Buzz actually
Acclaimed British journalist and atheist Christopher Hitchens publishes a book: God is Not Great.  Evangelical radio host Todd Friel decides to take on said acclaimed journalist with the rigor of a 6 year old's game of "What If."  A cliche about a knife and a gun fight.  Description does not do it justice.  Just listen. . .


Jun 26 2009 | 8 comment(s)

Farrah Fawcett in the most popular pin-up poster everUnless you live under a rock, you know that Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson all died this week.  Prompting many people within the effective radius of my ears to proclaim, "These things always happen in threes."

No they don't!

They didn't even all die on the same day.  What is the time limit on "threes?"  Does the Grim Reaper really care about American culture defines as important.
I have been overwhelmed by the response to the call for AB negative blood donors to help this young boy:
A friend of mine has a 14 month old son who is in dire need of type AB negative blood.  He had a bone marrow transplant due to leukemia and has been in the hospital ever since, and has declined in health to the point that this request is literally a matter of life and death for this little boy.  ALL AREA HOSPITALS IN ST LOUIS have been checked and are out of supply of this rare blood type.
Q. Who said this? "I have only two passions - space exploration and hip-hop."

A. Buzz Aldrin, space exploration pioneer, on Apollo 11, second person to walk on the moon, 79-year-old white dude.

I thought this was a joke when I first saw the posting on Wired, but it's real - Buzz recorded a rap song, "The Rocket Experience," with help from Snoop Dogg, Quincy Jones, Soulja Boy and Talib Kweli (who I didn't know but according to Wikipedia is "one of the best-known and critically, if not commercially, successful rappers in alternative hip-hop).
Ok, its not really a pirate language, but it is an awesome, free, and open source statistical platform.  Which means that one can run across little gems in the coding (while running some stats on Richard Wiseman's Twitter experiment) like this (emphasis added):
Residual standard error: 1.147273
Estimated effects may be unbalanced
47 observations deleted due to missingness
That's right.  MISSINGNESS.  I think my car keys rank highly on the Missingness Scale too.
If you're only experience with Alice in Wonderland is via Disney, then this may not make any sense to you.  If you have read Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you are well aware that an appropriate movie treatment should resemble a high octane acid trip.  How would one achieve that?

Mixing Tim Burton, 3D, Johnny Depp, and Helena Bonham Carter is probably a good place to start.  The movie (actually also by Disney) is supposed to come out in 2010, but some images have been released.
The world doesn't always make sense. Witness Mike's blog post on some convoluted language in a news story.

I understand that people make mistakes - I do all the time. My personal philosophy is honesty is always the best policy, and if you're upfront people tend to be more forgiving and understanding. One of my biggest pet peeves in the world is hypocrisy - and when your hypocrisy harms others, that's even worse.

Many Republicans have opposed granting federal rights to GBLT couples. A marriage is defined as between a man and woman, they say. (And of course some Democrats believe this too, but to a lesser extent.)
By honest I don't mean that you only tell what's true. But you make clear the entire situation. You make clear all the information that is required for somebody else who is intelligent to make up their mind. 

    - Richard Feynman "Cargo Cult Science", Caltech Commencement 1974

The Evocative Power Of Language

Most philosophical studies of how language functions have focused on semantics - how language conveys meaning.  In ordinary speech, language is not confined to the transmission of information.  It can be used to evoke strong emotions.