Thursday, 29 August 2013

More Psychos Than Psychologists

An astounding "news" story appeared in the Taipei Times today, Wednesday August 24 2013:

"Thousands of Taiwanese have ability to communicate with ghosts: psychiatrists"

Every Ghost Month, many Taiwanese observe Taoist rituals and ceremonies during the period when, according to traditional Chinese beliefs, the spirits of the dead are allowed to re-enter the mortal world.

Among those who believe in the spiritual realm are people who also believe in psychic powers and paranormal phenomena associated with ghosts and spirits. Despite many decrying believing in the paranormal as mere superstition, several psychiatrists say that thousands of Taiwanese are capable of communicating with spirits or ghosts.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Lousy-ana school districts

Louisiana?  Lousy-ana is more like it, especially it's "education" system.  Did anyone really believe that "private schools" which inflict ignorant, dogmatic religion upon children would lead to better education?

The "textbooks" those places used weren't your typical creationist drivel.  They were the books which described slavery as "triangular trade", and eradicated any mention of Thomas Jefferson who advocated the separation of cult and state.

Friday, 23 August 2013

There is only one thing to say about Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer has been accused of sexually assaulting or perhaps raping one or more women.  The veracity of any such claims is beyond my knowledge, so I have no comment on whether it is true or not.

But you have to wonder why Shermer's response is legal action to silence criticism, rather than a presentation or explanation of his interactions with the woman who accused him (or women, since a second has come forward).

Worse yet, Shermer is openly grateful to someone who is raising money for his legal costs - a person who has openly told rape jokes to get laughs.  Shermer endorses such a person instead of distancing himself from him.  Rape is not something to joke about.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Religion kills: Indian pilgrims murder train driver

A group of pilgrims in India deliberately walked onto the tracks of a high speed train line and expected their presence to stop the train.   News reports have erroneously said "Thirty seven pilgrims were killed by a train".

Wrong.  Trains take almost a kilometre to stop, they don't stop on a time.  The train drivers are blameless, doing their jobs and obeying rail signals and driving in a safe manner, unlike the Spanish train driver who was speeding and crashed a train.  Drivers should not have to expect people breaking the law and endangering themselves.

After the trespassers were killed and bodies sent everwhere, the train drivers stopped the trains to help those injured.  In response, the mob of religious fanatics proceeded to attack the drivers and killed at least one, if not more of the drivers, and the mob set the train cars on fire.

Religion kills: Indian atheist murdered by fanatics

 Narendra Dabholkar was murdered in India for the act of questioning religion.  Religious terrorism strikes again.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Old technology #1: AT-101 Keyboards

I grew up with a typewriter in the house.  I had learnt to type before my family had its first computer...a TI99-4/A (which should tell you how long that has been).

I liked how the keys felt on a typewriter, how it took a lot of force to strike one.  Making a mistake was difficult because you had to put in a lot of effort to hit the key.  When the Apple II and later PCs came into vogue, they had much the same keyboards.  Even the early Macintoshes were that way.

Early computer keyboards weren't just hard to hit, they were hard to break.  They were heavy but well made, and not prone to breaking down or breaking, period.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Why I don't watch baseball

When I say that I do not watch baseball, I am only talking about "Major League" baseball.  I love watching the Pacific League from Japan, or even the Korean Baseball League.  They play at a very high level but without steroids.

 And when I say that I do not watch baseball, it is not steroids that put me off.  Yes, steroids are ruining the game and the owners of MLB teams are encouraging players to take them, but that is beside the point.  (If you disagree, ask yourself why there is such a  focus on "macho" crap like strikeouts and home runs.  Just like the olympics, records are what sell tickets, not the event itself.)

The MLB owners could easily fix the game and get rid of steroids at the same time.  It would not require drug testing, nor would it require any changes to the rules.

What is would require is for baseball to enforce rules that are already on the books.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Why I don't watch football, part 1: children and concussions

When I say football, I am talking about the North American game, not the world game.

Football is a brutal, full contact game.  It is rife with injuries to the feet, knees, back, arms shoulders, and worst of all, the head and neck.

Last fall a news item talked about concussions in football and the danger involved in repeated head strikes, even without a diagnosed concussion.  Reading that item put me off watching football altogether.  I have always known about the risks to the players, about the potential of gladitorial sport watched by mobs too cowardly and out of shape to suit up and play themselves.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Feminist Frequency and Tropes vs Women: 3 for 3

The third part of Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs Women" series was released, and like the first two parts, it's brilliant and insightful.  It is also appalling because of the sheer number of examples of sexism.

Equally appalling is that Ms. Sarkeesian needs to block ratings and comments on her videos.  It's not because she is afraid of feedback or disagreement.  On the contrary, unlike certain feminists (not named here), Ms. Sarkeesian is willing to listen to and answer those who disagree with her, and she does not arrogantly assume she has all the answers.

But just because she is willing to listen to reasonable disagreement, it does not means she will be met with reasonable disagreement.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

I am not a feminist nor an ally

How often have you heard someone say,

"I'm not a racist, but..."

and then go on to say something outrageously offensive?  I have lost count of how many times.

Everybody is a bigot.  Everybody.  We all have our unjustifiable biases and prejudices, so it is pointless to deny it.

The cause of poor journalism

A humour site posted a good joke about bad journalism:

Gene for poor science journalism discovered

If only it were true.  The actual causes of bad journalism are much harder to combat.

The first cause is the corporate-owned media.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Annoyances #1: Psycho-phants

When a person writes something and posts it publicly (a blog, a news item, whatever), if there is a way to give feedback to the writer, then inevitably someone will disagree.  Aside from "water is wet", there will always be someone who disagrees.

That's not a problem.  What is a problem are people who allow comments but then don't want to hear them.  They made it possible for people to disagree, then got upset because someone did disagree.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Today is August 15, 573 AG

Today is August 15 , 573 AG, or After Gutenberg.  It was in 1440 CE that Johann Gutenberg created his printing press which changed the world.  Only one invention in history - the plough - had a greater impact on humans and societies.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The Left Hand is the Proper Hand #1: Discrimination?

Discrimination comes in many forms, and for many reasons - usually, stupid ones.  As societies mature, bigotries become less acceptable and those targeted treated as equals, though not always so.  Sadly, some biases never go away.  Has the attitude towards non-whites in the US today really changed from the days when the KKK operated openly?

When I was a child in the 1970s, it was still acceptable for public school teachers (not just mine, but elsewhere) to "discourage" left handedness in children with corporal punishment  (read: beatings) to force children to change hands.  Disparagement came in other forms - claims of "being satanic", "hamfisted", "awkward" and others.  And just look at the language: many words for "uncoordinated" come from the  word for left (e.g. gauche, sinister, etc.).  It's comparable to the insult in the word "hysteria", the outdated and sexist mentality that all women are neurotic.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Out Of Touch: The Coldness Of Technology

I do not use Facebook and cannot understand the appeal that drives millions to obsess about it. Putting one's name on a commercial website? Allowing one's image and personal information to be distributed who knows where to do who knows what? And worst of all, calling complete strangers "friends"?

They are as much "friends" as a street corner huckster selling knockoff watches. Both misuse the word, devaluing it as they do. I only have friends online the same way I have family online: they were people I knew in person first, not "friended" on the internet. Unless I know them by voice, unless I have looked them in the eye, touched hands, I don't consider them friends. But this does not mean one cannot make true friends by correspondence.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Where to start...?


It's called On Hand Comments because they're not offhand comments.


1. With little or no preparation or forethought
2. Casually thoughtless or inconsiderate

1. In a casually inconsiderate manner
2. Without previous thought or preparation

And it's called On Hand because the good hand (left hand) is onhand. The wrong hand (right hand) is offhand.