samedi 31 janvier 2015

Colleen McCullough

I see that Colleen McCullough has died. Before becoming one of the best selling novelists in the world, she had an international career as a neurophysiologist, culminating in a stint teaching at Yale Medical School.

Keeping its perspective, the newspaper The Australian led off its obituary by noting that she was charming despite being plain of feature and over weight.

via International Skeptics Forum

Anoka-Hennepin Schools May Start Depression Screenings

Anoka-Hennepin Schools May Start Depression Screenings


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Minnesota’s largest school district is discussing screening high school students for depression and anxiety in the classroom.

As part of a state grant to improve mental health services, Anoka-Hennepin schools could offer a screening as soon as next fall.


The school district is considering spending a $370,000 state grant on testing for depression in the classroom.


Kumar said with parents’ permission, the patient health questionnaire would be given to 10th graders in health class.

If parents permission is needed then why can't parents be left to make this decision and have it done, and paid for, themselves? Even if a concerned teacher notifies a parent about their kid having problems, why must it be done at school?


Twin Cities area doctors said about half the clinics in the Twin Cities area offer these same depression screening tests, but usually a parent has to ask for them after seeing some warning signs at home.

Is it a legal thing? Does anyone know if the school district was sued?....


Anoka-Hennepin schools garnered national attention after seven students took their own lives between September 2009 and May 2011.

My normal knee-jerk reaction to parenting issues is for the government to stay out of it. A good example is the thread about Child Protective Services threatening to take children away from parents who let their kids walk to school alone.

Whady'all think?

I haven't seen many new threads here recently so here we go.

via International Skeptics Forum

Still such a Newbie to Critical Thinking

Hello. I haven't posted on here in quite a while; my last question set off a rather large post on about AA and religion.

I was raised Catholic and didn't get around to any critical thinking until college courses on Philosophy.

I am in awe at the way many here can debate so well. I want to learn how to be able to stick up for myself and my ideas. I want to learn more.

I like listening to audiobooks and was wondering if anyone has some good favorites that would help me out. I live in a rather religious area and have some very religious family members. I feel like a "closet" atheist.

Hope you all can recommend some good reads. Thanks for your input.

via International Skeptics Forum

Amazing feats of archery from this guy

The guy himself isn't "historical" but a lot of ties/discussion about archery historically, so thought it fit have to wonder if some of this isn't faked, esp that last one, holy ####

via International Skeptics Forum

Allergy testing in dogs

Can anyone help me check out allergy testing. I'm seeing it used a lot as there's a lot of dogs coming through rescue with allergy symptoms. The last I read it made it seem like the hair tests were a con, but its hard to know which articles to trust.

The latest dog was very sore and itchy, and changing her food made only a slight improvement. The testing came back as

intolerant to the following foods;

wheat, gluten, rice, sugar-beet, cow's milk/cheese, salmon, plaice, hake, also tap water or more so the nickel that is contained in tap water, Nickel is also in stainless steel so her collar and lead could well be irritating her.

Non food intolerances are;

all disinfectants/cleaning products, laundry powder/liquid & fabric conditioner feathers, cats & pollen.

It seemed a lot of things, it made me wonder if they were hedging their bets.

via International Skeptics Forum

What would Stephen Fry say to god?


God is ‘evil, capricious and monstrous’

OK - nothing new for the atheists here but I still enjoy it when a public figure spells it out like this.

via International Skeptics Forum

FYI: Google Earth Pro is now free.

In case you haven't heard and might be interested, Google Earth Pro is now free. Up until yesterday it was marketed as enterprise software and cost $399.

There are quite a few extra tools available with the Pro version. It's worth checking out if you use Google Earth very much. After all, the price is right.

via International Skeptics Forum

Angela Merkel puts her foot down

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out cancelling any of Greece's debt, saying banks and creditors have already made substantial cuts.

Greece's left-wing Syriza party won last weekend's election with a pledge to have half the debt written off.

The rise of the "new" left, bodes no good!

via International Skeptics Forum

Mary Cheney: Why is drag 'socially acceptable' and blackface isn't?


"Why is it socially acceptable -- as a form of entertainment -- for men to put on dresses, make up and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.) -- but it is not socially acceptable -- as a form of entertainment -- for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans?" Cheney wrote in a post on Thursday her private Facebook page.

Full story at CNN:

via International Skeptics Forum

YouTube goes HTML5, is leaving Adobe Flash behind

YouTube Now Streams HTML5 Video By Default | TechCrunch

YouTube's video pick spells doom for Adobe Flash - CNET

Steve Jobs was right: YouTube is finally HTML5-first | Cult of Mac

YouTube Flash HTML5: Steve Jobs right about Flash all along | BGR

YouTube is now using HTML5 video on all web browsers that can support it, though it will continue to use Flash video for browsers without suitable HTML support. On my computer, Google Chrome and Safari now use HTML5, while Firefox and Opera use Flash. But Firefox should use HTML5 before long. To see whether some video is in HTML5 or Flash, right-click or control-click on it. A popup menu should appear. If the video is in Flash, you should see some Flash options.

Being good for YouTube required the addition of variable bitrate and encryption. The latter is good for Digital Restrictions Management, er, Digital Rights Management (DRM). Not only YouTube, but also Vimeo and Netflix and possibly other online video sites are moving to HTML5. Also, both Apple and Microsoft now support it.

What's next for Flash?

There was already some trouble for it a few years back.

Did Steve Jobs kill Adobe Flash? - "Flash is a spaghetti-ball piece of technology that has lousy performance and really bad security problems."

Steve Would Be Proud: How Apple Won The War Against Flash | TechCrunch Flash for Android briefly came and went.

Then Steve Jobs's famous 2010 Thoughts on Flash He listed what he considered 6 major problems.

1. Openness.

2. The Full Web.

3. Reliability, security, and performance.

4. Battery life.

5. User interface: "Touch".

6. Not taking full advantage of iOS.

#6 seems a bit like protectionism, and #5 represents something that Apple itself had overcome with Cocoa, creating the smartphone-friendly Cocoa Touch user-interface widgets. #3 and #4 are rather damning, suggesting either that Adobe's management doesn't consider those items high priorities, or else that Flash has some difficult-to-overcome architectural flaws. #2 is about Flash potentially being superfluous for online video, something that is now happening. About #1, SJ concedes that Apple has plenty of proprietary products, but prefers open standards about what's on the Internet.

Without video, Flash could retreat into being a platform for online animations and games. But even there, it may be possible for the HTML5-CSS-JavaScript troika to challenge it. HTML5 includes the "canvas" and "svg" elements, and both of them are usable for online animations and games.

Canvas: raster graphics, like a paint program

SVG: vector graphics, like a draw program (SVG = scalable vector graphics)

via International Skeptics Forum

"Have a blessed day...

...and welcome to WalMart".

The linked article refers to our local WalMart:

I have been greeted in this way by this fellow several times and was personally never offended, even though I am not a Christian.

Anyway, it's turned into quite the "cause célèbre" round these here parts.


via International Skeptics Forum

vendredi 30 janvier 2015

Why Does The Nut Left Have Such A Bizarre Obsession With The Koch Brothers?

It entertains me, but I find it odd.

See also: The Nut Right's obsession with George Soros.

via International Skeptics Forum

Churches oppose three-person baby plan

As usual they just can't stop poking their noses in where they don't belong. While there may well be an ethical debate to be had, and one that is very largely related to safety, it should have absolutely no reference to religious views. Yet another example of how the institutions cannot be trusted to keep their evidence free beliefs to themselves, as if any more evidence of the nosy poking tendency was required.

Annoying to see Prof Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, saying the Church had a "right" to interject. Shame the scientists don't state what I hope to be their real view i.e. religion is irrelevant.

via International Skeptics Forum

No Mitt

Am I first to post here the news that Romney will not run in 2016?

Shame! We won't be able to debate the merits or otherwise of magic undergarments in relation to the presidency this time.

Wonder if the morons will be able to find another candidate any time soon?

Hopefully the rest of the likely roster of Republicans will do a fine job of schisming the right vote sufficiently to prevent any of them being elected.

via International Skeptics Forum

9/11 truthers Love Pete Carroll

Well, it is Super Bowl Sunday, and Deadspin takes the time to remind us that one of the head Coaches participating in the game might be a 911 truther of the JAQ persuasion.

The attached article include links to a group of ASU students making complete jackaninnies out of themselves. Hilariously and sad at the same time.

via International Skeptics Forum

New interview with a WTC7 firefighter

Hi everyone,

I've just published an interview with LT Frank Papalia on Undicisettembre. He was also interviewed by BBC several years ago for a documentary called "The Third Tower".

Unfortunately this forum still doesn't allow me to post URL, but you guys know how to reach Undicisettembre.


via International Skeptics Forum

jeudi 29 janvier 2015

Reason Rally 2 coming soon!

Anyone who was at the first Reason Rally (the largest gathering of the secular movement worldwide, ever) in Washington, DC, in 2012 will probably agree it was an amazing, memorable experience (despite the wet, cold weather!).

Well, it looks like Reason Rally 2 is starting to take shape.


I’m happy to announce that the Board of the Reason Rally Coalition is working on the next Reason Rally. We have a new board of experienced activists working together to make the next event even better than the first. Please watch this page for more information in the coming weeks. And get excited. #reasonrally2

I'll certainly do my best to be there again. Anyone else?

via International Skeptics Forum

'Expensive' placebos work better than 'cheap' ones, study finds


How do you convert a simple saline solution into a useful treatment for people with Parkinson’s disease? Tell them it’s a drug that costs $100 per dose. And if you want to make it even more effective, tell them it costs $1,500 instead.

Or you could take the $10,000 cure at the Institute for Advanced Quackery and Homeopathy in Juarez, Mexico. :covereyes

via International Skeptics Forum

Doctors refusing service to patients who refuse vaccination

It seems some doctors are finally saying: get vaccinated/get your kid vaccinated, or our relationship is over.

I've included a poll: Is this a good idea for doctors to do?

No need for a planet X option since the question is straight forward and involves a non-hypothetical issue.

I myself am a bit torn. I understand the doctors' frustration with unrelenting pseudoscience, and their concern for other patients who could be exposed to potentially deadly infections. On the other hand, even if every MD across the country implemented this policy I don't think it would change many minds. If any thing it will cause the anti-vax parents to double down in ignorance thanks to being forced into the open arms of quacks.

via International Skeptics Forum

The Moon and Tides

I was reading something about the tides and it doesn't make sense to me, I'm sure one of you will come along and straighten me out.

Consider the following two statements:


Tides are not caused by the direct pull of the moon's gravity. The moon is pulling upwards on the water while the earth is pulling downward. Slight advantage to the moon and thus we have tides.

The gravitational force of the moon is one ten-millionth that of earth, but when you combine other forces such as the earth's centrifugal force created by its spin, you get tides.

Since the moon's gravitational force is so much less that that of the earth, how can the moon have a "slight advantage" in pulling on the water?

via International Skeptics Forum

Texas Lawmaker makes a stupid requirement, world shocked!

People I feel are really, really stupid. White's commentary for Texas Muslim Capitol Day:


"I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws," she posted on Facebook. "We will see how long they stay in my office."

Is it really that difficult to forego that requirement? Do you really need to backhand everything that's different from you? Doesn't this fly in the face of the Constitution? Would she require this on "Texas Christian Capitol Day"?

This is also the first year there have been protesters and people actively trying to disrupt the event. I hate Texas, if the state wants to withdraw from the U.S., I say let it. Give them back to Mexico and be done with it.

I wasn't sure if this should be in USA politics or Social events. Feel free to move it wherever.

via International Skeptics Forum

New Gaming build - thoughts?

Thinking AMD FX-8350 and a GTX 970. There are some heat concerns with the CPU and with the GTX 970, some sort of memory leak.

Does anyone have either of these, and if so what's your thoughts?

via International Skeptics Forum

Lamarck and Darwin.

Darwin is the leading theory. And many biologists are defending Darwin against creationism.

But I have the following questions about the possibility of Lamarckism:

For example, some people are black and other peole are white.

Because of the climate, I would say. The sun in Afrika will give rise to black people.

Why were there no white people in the African lands, many years ago?

People here in Europe are white because of the climate too.

There are Tibitans in the mountains who can survive there. Did they survive because of natural selection or because of genetic adaptation (Lamarck)?

It's more obvious to think that their genes adapted themselves.

via International Skeptics Forum

Media gender stereotypes

I read an interesting interview with Peter Davison (ex Dr Who star) who was asked whether a female could ever play the iconic role.

For those that don't know. Time lord. Show has been around for about 50 years. The character can regenerate, which means every time an actor gets bored they get a new one.

The character has always been male.

What I found interesting was this comment when asked if the part could be played by a woman


"What you have at the moment is a slightly vulnerable, fallible Doctor, who is not really quite sure if he is doing the right thing, and to assist him a very strong female companion, who invariably gets him out of trouble and usually ends up majorly helping with the resolution of the story," says Davison.

"If you reverse that and you had the female Doctor, you'd have a female Doctor who was not quite sure, slightly fallible, and a very strong male companion. Now that seems to me a stereotype you don't want to encourage, the strong male who helps the woman out all the time."

I would go further and say that there would be uproar from certain sectors of the feminist community.

Are there certain situations that are now no go areas depending on gender?

via International Skeptics Forum

North Korean Soldier killed in China

I just saw this New York Times Article on a soldier that apparently went into China to try and steal food. I'm wondering how indicative this is that things might get even more desperate there if they can't feed solders.

It seems to me this is some indication that the Great Un could lose control of the military if he can feed the the soldiers. If famine becomes widespread in the military, that is the end for his regime.

via International Skeptics Forum

Say it isn't so Jehova

For the first time since I moved two years ago I had a visit from a couple Jehovah's Witnesses this morning. They started by asking me if knew of any government was not corrupt and pointed me at a passage of Ecclesiastes that explained that all Men were imperfect. And thus concluding that there would never be an incorrupt government. I said that I did not follow this logically and the conversation trailed off when I noted that the world "democracy" does not appear in the Bible but that word "fryingpan" does. The junior (senior?) member of the team remarked, "You know your Bible".

I then decided to check what the JW's current prediction of the End of the World (as we know it) was given their multitudinous failures over the last 75 years. When I had done this at the previous visit, I was told that, "we don't do that any more". This time I was told that I must have got them mixed up with some other . . . um . . . cult as they had never made any such predictions! I said, "That's interesting. So now you are not only refusing to update, you are also denying you every did make such predictions"? Cognitive dissonance did not immediately manifest itself other than a return to the verse in Ecclesiastes and a repeat of the original thesis re government.

We wished each other a good morning and they went their way.

Checking on I see that the waffling started in 1996:


In 1996-APR, the WTS changed their criteria for TEOTWAWKI. "They now say that the generation that saw the events of 1914 is actually any generation that understands what happened" at that time. 5 This allows an indefinite delay in the arrival of Armageddon -- for millennia if necessary.



The "yeartext" for 2004, published in the WTS Yearbook is: "Keep on the Watch... Prove Yourselves Ready." It is a quotation taken from Matthew 24:42-44. This yeartext is accompanied with the following remarks:

"Consistently, God's Word reminds us that Jehovah's day will arrive with shocking suddenness. Hence, our yeartext for 2004 reflects Jesus' deep love for his disciples, whom he wants to preserve through 'the great tribulation.' (Rev. 7:14 ) How do we remain spiritually watchful and ready? By allowing nothing to distract us from our study of God's Word and from our privileges of sacred service."

Standing by. :relieved:

via International Skeptics Forum

Correlation: The devil rides again?

Forty two years ago (!), Birnbaum1 argued that correlational research basically sucks (i.e., correlation is an “instrument of the devil,” especially when used to fit models). Differential psychology, however, is almost exclusively correlational, as we can’t randomly assign people to sex, race, age, personality, IQ, or pretty much anything we want to study.

Today, many believe correlational research basically sucks for two reasons: (1) Correlations don’t imply causation, and (2) squaring correlations usually results in embarrassingly-small amounts of variance explained.

The first argument is cowardly; it allows dismissal of any correlation (especially politically incorrect ones, or those inconsistent with confirmation-biased world views) as worthless, and not worthy of serious consideration. However, it is also trivial that cause implies correlation, and the field is starting to turn the tables on correlation skeptics:

Woodley’s Challenge: "Sure, correlation does not equal causation, but find me just one single instance of a causal relationship where there is no correlation (just one would suffice)2."...

to continue ;):

via International Skeptics Forum

Advice needed: Make a smartphone look like an old nokia?

Hi everyone.

My parents are in need of a new phone (old one is getting really crappy on the reception).

Problem is that they want a no frills phone: Clear buttons, phone and sms only, easy to figure out. And those are getting harder and harder to get by.

Their old phone is a nokia non-smartphone and I was wondering,as a possible alternative, if anyone knows of an app or a way of making an android phone boot as at least a graphical version of a button phone instead of a mini-computer?

via International Skeptics Forum

Philosophy enters science, post-empiricism?

This is ridiculous and I am sorry if it is already a topic:


What they, and others, find particularly worrisome is the claim that our attempts to push back frontiers in cosmology and fundamental physics have taken us into a new domain where new rules of science are needed. Some call this domain "post-empirical" science. Recently, for example, the philosopher of physics Richard Dawid has argued that in spite of the fact that no evidence for string theory exists (even after three decades of intense study), it must still be considered the best candidate for a path forward. As Dawid puts it, such arguments include "no-one has found a good alternative to string theory. Another [reason to accept string theory is] one uses the observation that theories without alternatives tended to be viable in the past."

via International Skeptics Forum

Latest BDU Problem: Baidu search/toolbar hijacked...

Well it's sort of a low-jacking. My son had some programs from Baidu on his laptop. They didn't bother anything and Baidu has some legitimate services and are a legitimate company --- sometimes.

But, in the last week (after using for 15 months) Baidu has hijacked the browser. He uses Chrome. The first page comes up as Chrome. But any search re-routes to Baidu.*

There are conflicting versions (some translated from Russian or Chinese) as to how to get rid of this thing. I tried downloading Firefox to use as an alternate browser, but Baidu hijacked that search engine too.

I'm sure youse guys get tired of answering Security 101 questions, so if you could just direct me to that geek site whose name I forgot for the 11th time, I'll be on my way. (No, I don't want to go into DOS and mess with stuff. I mean,... seriously? You see the questions I ask. Would you want me near your DOS directories with a delete key nearby?)

*Which is such a bad search engine that it makes Yahoo Search look like you hired a bunch of programmers from Caltech. Baidu is about 146% paid links.

via International Skeptics Forum

Godmode in Win 7.

Borrowed from elsewhere:


Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle

Rightclick on your desktop and create a new folder.

Rename that folder exactly as below (best to copy and paste).


Now open the folder and look at all the options you now have access to :cool:.

via International Skeptics Forum

What's happening in NYC with the NYPD?

It's been about a month since the last big news of the NYPD (New York Police Department), out of anger at the conveniently miscegenating mayor, decided to engage in what the Ney York Post called a "virtual work stoppage" (Jan 29, 2015).

What has happened in the mean time? A casual Google search hasn't turned up much. It seems that the mayor is getting heat over a brief subway shutdown, and a lot of people think Patrick Lynch is a blowhard, which is about like saying that water is wet.

So what has happened since then? I'm not expecting a miracle, like expecting Fox News to run a story saying, "Oh Ebola sent by the Muslim in the White House by way of Mexican children at the border is not going to slaughter us after all." Still, the warnings of dire consequences were so, well, dire, that the relative quietude is somewhat notable.

So what is going on? Is it like a science fiction story I once read? New York City has become a smoking crater, and all operations have moved to Newark, and we're all being hypnotized by the dot on cathode ray tubes not to notice? (And also to believe that we have flat screens?)

Have the NYPD settled their differences with the mayor and gone back to performing the essential work of arresting or killing people for trivial offenses in order to make revenue, which is all that stands between us and Soviet-style Communism?

Or are New Yorkers doing fine despite the absolute horrors of having to pass asthmatics selling onesies? Are they managing, as they usually seem to do?

via International Skeptics Forum

mercredi 28 janvier 2015

Was top prosecutor in Argentina murdered? If so, by whom?

This story seems very suspicious:


The news from Argentina reads like a real-life locked room mystery: on January 18, Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor who had recently accused Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of conspiring with Iran to subvert the prosecution of a terrorist attack, was found dead in his home, the door locked from the inside.

Although Nisman's death initially looked like a suicide, many believe that he may have been murdered. The gun that killed him was found lying next to his body, but there was no gunshot residue on Nisman's hands, suggesting that he was not holding it when it was fired. And a number of Nisman's colleagues and supporters have come forward to say that he had made appointments to see them in the days following his death.

On January 22, President Kirchner, who had initially referred to Nisman's death as a suicide, publicly changed course and released a statement saying that the death "was not a suicide," and that Nisman had been "manipulated" by forces seeking to undermine her, who may have then killed him.

Then, on January 26, Kirchner unexpectedly announced that she would submit a bill to dissolve the Argentinian intelligence service and replace it with a new federal intelligence agency.

There's a lot more going on here than meets the eye, though.

The prosecutor had made public accusations that the president was conspiring with Iran to subvert his investigation, and then he turns up dead?


via International Skeptics Forum

I Was a Paid Internet Shill: How Shadowy Groups Manipulate Internet Opinion

I'm so tired of this stuff, whats the point? Person Y claims unprovable,unverifiable information and people hail it as proof.

Also, gotta love the setup.


She gave me only a phone-number and an address, in one of the seedier parts of San Francisco, where I live. intrigued, I asked her for the company’s URL and some more info. She laughed. “They don’t have a website. Or even a name. You’ll see. Just tell them I referred you.”

How convenient


I quit this job in the latter part of 2011, because I became disgusted with it, and with myself. I realized I couldn’t look myself in the mirror anymore. If this confession triggers some kind of retribution against me, so be it. Part of being a real man in this world is having real values that you stand up for, no matter what the consequences.

Ok, Mr. Anonymous internet poster. what balls! :p

via International Skeptics Forum

“Mentally Ill” 17-Year-Old Girl Shot Dead by Texas Police

“Mentally Ill” 17-Year-Old Girl Shot Dead by Texas Police

It only took 3 officers to shoot this girl! Can't wait for more details about all three of them feared for their lives from a disturbed girl with a knife.

via International Skeptics Forum

Need help with reassigning a couple of keys on Win 7

For reasons I won't bore you with, I want to swap two keys around - the CAPS LOCK and the *. But in trying to do so, I'm coming up against a couple of issues. The reason for these issues is that I want to reassign the * that's above the numeral 8, not the one that's on the number pad.

I've tried programs like KeyTweak and SharpKeys. They will let me reassign the CAPS LOCK, but will only let me swap entire keys - so I could have what is currently my 8 key as the CAPS LOCK and what is currently the CAPS LOCK as 8 and *, but not just change SHIFT + 8, which is what I'm looking to do. And SharpKeys will not allow you to swap two keys with each other, for some reason.

I have also tried the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. This will allow me to reassign just the * from above the 8, but it won't allow me to move the CAPS LOCK.

Given that different programs can do half of what I want them to do, I figure it must be possible. Every step I want to do can be done, I just can't find a way to do all of them at the same time.

Does anybody know if and how this can be done?

via International Skeptics Forum

SYSPREP for swapping motherboards.

Is there a better option if I want to keep my disk drive and files intact? I'm wondering if there are any other options that are (preferably) free.

(yes I have a system image)

Windows 7 pro 64 bit.

ETA: I found this article and I think this is the root I'll take (unless advised otherwise):

via International Skeptics Forum

Windows 10

Windows 10 to be free upgrade for users of Win 7, Win 8.0 & Win 8.1 for 1year from the release date.

via International Skeptics Forum

Saturnian system orbital question.

Do all the moons of Saturn orbit in the same plane as the rings?

via International Skeptics Forum

Donkey that hunts and kills coyotes

via International Skeptics Forum

Pedestrian signals and pedestrian behavior

Over the weekend here, a pedestrian was killed at a city intersection. Initial reports were that the pedestrian signal was not working. However, both a news crew and the highway department responded and found the signal to be working properly.

Witnesses were found who confirmed that the pedestrian had simply ignored the signal.

The news crew set up their camera and filmed dozens of pedestrians crossing, and fully half ignored the signal. This pretty much mirrors my own experience....Here at the university, all the major intersections surrounding have these signals and pedestrians routinely ignore them.

In fact, the only time they seem to pay much attention is during rush periods when traffic is so heavy they have to.

I understand that it costs about 14,000 bucks to install these signals per intersection. So, is this wasted money?

Especially bad are the joggers...Who apparently can't stand the idea that thier carefully-maintained heart rate should drop by one or two points.

via International Skeptics Forum

Indiana governor readies state-run media organization

Our pro-government shutdown, pro-Tea Party governor, who apparently has delusions of running for president, has decided to draw attention away from his reluctant acceptance of the ACA Medicaid Expansion by trying to launch his own taxpayer-funded news outlet:


Gov. Mike Pence is starting a state-run taxpayer-funded news outlet that will make pre-written news stories available to Indiana media, as well as sometimes break news about his administration, according to documents obtained by The Indianapolis Star.

Pence is planning in late February to launch "Just IN," a website and news outlet that will feature stories and news releases written by state press secretaries and is being overseen by a former Indianapolis Star reporter, Bill McCleery.

"At times, Just IN will break news — publishing information ahead of any other news outlet. Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such 'exclusive' coverage remain under discussion," according to a question-and-answer sheet distributed last week to communications directors for state agencies.

The Pence news outlet will take stories written by state communications directors and publish them on its website. Stories will "range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles."

Just once, it would be nice for Indiana to be in the news for something that's not an embarrassment.

via International Skeptics Forum

We finally know what's wrong

With the middle class in America.

No its not stagnant wages for the last 30+ years despite record production levels.

No its not the rising cost of healthcare and education thst is way above inflation

No its not the lack of tax fairness a s incentives to REAL small business (as opposed to the multi million dollar multi state sometime multi national business the gop definses as small)

NOPE. It's that YOU simply want and expect too much!

So says multi billionaire Jeff Greene who hasnt created a songle job, and made his billions on wall st by stealing peoples money

"America’s lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things.....,” Greene said in an interview today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We need to reinvent our whole system of life.”

Of course as usual the hypocracy of the "im better than you, you dirty pesent"crowd is strong

With this one as he flew in on his provate lear jet (one of 1700) where one of the "major" topics was global warming and he brough along his wife kids and not one but 2 nannies to watch over thie welps.

Now before the gop shills jump on board with the "you hate success" meme.

While i do have strong feeilings about the current crop (20 year) of wall street mostly sociopathic metality that is wall street that has nothing to do with actual evaulations and building wealth, other than on paper and mostly for the institutions, T

this post is about ;

The blattant hypocracy expressed, but usually not stated so bluntly by the rich, that says we got our screw you. And while the meme of "high tide lifts all boats". Sounds great for the ignorant masses it has nothing to do with how these people truly feel and their agenda.

via International Skeptics Forum

James Randi retires from JREF


At 86 years of age, I feel that it’s now well time to officially retire, so I’m stepping down from my position with the JREF – the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Eighty-six seems like a good age to slow things down. Enjoy your retirement Mr. Randi.:)

via International Skeptics Forum

The Amazing Randi steps down

Announcement on the JREF site:


At 86 years of age, I feel that it’s now well time to officially retire, so I’m stepping down from my position with the JREF – the James Randi Educational Foundation.



Message from the Board

We regretfully accept James Randi’s decision to retire from the foundation that bears his name. We will be good stewards as we make plans for the JREF’s future.

Randi has our thanks and gratitude for inspiring us and countless others to think more clearly, not just about the paranormal but about all matters of the universe we live in. May his ferocity, his wit, and his relentless demand for good evidence continue to make our world a better place!

This July 16-19, The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM) will celebrate Randi’s long and productive career. Randi has enthusiastically agreed to be our featured guest. We hope you will join him and friends from around the world. The full schedule and the registration website are under development. In the meantime, please save those dates.

Rick Adams

Chip Denman

via International Skeptics Forum

mardi 27 janvier 2015

[Split Thread] David Gilroy: murder conviction goes to Scottish Review Commission


Originally Posted by Rolfe (Post 10444461)

I only see three threads in SI&CE in the past week or two dealing with actual suspected miscarriages of justice. Obviously the Shrien Dewani and Oscar Pistorius threads would have fitted in a Law and Justice section too, but people have stopped arguing about these cases.

There are a lot of other threads that have some sort of legal connection though. It will be interesting to see what sorts of threads people decide they want to put there. David Gilroy is trying to get another appeal and that's quite an interesting case (Suzanne Pilley, the murder without a body) I wonder if people will want to discuss.

I would love to discuss that one. I use it as a paradigm case for explaining circumstantial evidence because it's so neat and tidy. Guilty as sin IMO but I would be fascinated to know the basis of any appeal.

via International Skeptics Forum

Obamacare to cost 50,000 in taxpayer money for each insured individual


It will cost the federal government – taxpayers, that is – $50,000 for every person who gets health insurance under the Obamacare law, the Congressional Budget Office revealed on Monday.

The number comes from figures buried in a 15-page section of the nonpartisan organization's new ten-year budget outlook.

The best-case scenario described by the CBO would result in 'between 24 million and 27 million' fewer Americans being uninsured in 2025, compared to the year before the Affordable Care Act took effect.

Pulling that off will cost Uncle Sam about $1.35 trillion – or $50,000 per head.

The numbers are daunting: It will take $1.993 trillion, a number that looks like $1,993,000,000,000, to provide insurance subsidies to poor and middle-class Americans, and to pay for a massive expansion of Medicaid and CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) costs.

Offsetting that massive outlay will be $643 billion in new taxes, penalties and fees related to the Obamacare law.

That revenue includes quickly escalating penalties – or 'taxes,' as the U.S. Supreme Court described them – on people who resist Washington's command to buy medical insurance.

It also includes income from a controversial medical device tax, which some Republicans predict will be eliminated in the next two years.

If they're right, Obamacare's per-person cost would be even higher.

President Barack Obama pledged to members of Congress in 2009, as his signature insurance overhaul law was being hotly debated, that 'the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years.'

It would be a significant discount if the White House could return to that number today.

In that same speech, Obama claimed that there were 'more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.'

$900 billion spent on those people would equate to no more than $30,000 each – less than two-thirds of what the CBO now says the program will cost when the dust settles.

The CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation, a group of members from both houses of Congress, prepared Monday's report on the overall direction of the federal budget.

They estimated that 'the net costs of the coverage provisions of the ACA [Affordable Care Act] will rise sharply as the effects of the act phase in from 2015 through 2017.'

Those costs will 'rise steadily through 2022' before leveling off for three years, the groups' economists determined. But even at that point, the Obamacare program will cost the governemnt 'about $145 billion' each year.

That number doesn't include the insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs paid by Americans – only the government's role in implementing the law and paying for its guarantees.

And the law will still leave 'between 29 million and 31 million' nonelderly Americans without medical insurance, says the CBO.

This is why Republican's are against Obamacare

18 Trillion in debt, tax increases

Democrats hopeless agenda

via International Skeptics Forum

Guess Which States Are Worst for Income Inequality?

Maybe this explains why the Blue Staters are constantly moaning about this topic; turns out they're more likely to be living in an unequal society (scoll down to Table 2). Here are the ten states with the highest income inequality as of 2012 (latest year available):

1. New York

2. Connecticut

3. Nevada

4. Florida

5. California

6. Massachusetts

7. Texas

8. Illinois

9. New Jersey

10. Washington

Eight solid blue states, one red state, and one battleground (Florida, which went for Obama in 2008 and 2012).

The states with the lowest income inequality?

1. Hawaii

2. Alaska

3. West Virginia

4. Maine

5. Iowa

6. Vermont

7. Mississippi (finally a ranking where they finish near the top!)

8. New Mexico

9. Kentucky

10. Delaware

(Note: Wyoming not ranked as the income of the bottom 99% could not be estimated, but oddly enough the income of the top 1% there was the highest in the country.)

via International Skeptics Forum

Senator wants DUI charge dismissed.


A citation filed in Franklin County Circuit court says Smith had a .088 percent blood alcohol level in a portable breath test.

His attorney cites Section 43 of the Kentucky Constitution, which says that except for treason and certain other offenses, legislators are "privileged from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same."

According to The Courier-Journal, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers (R) disagreed with Smith's request. .... it is clear that the immunity does not apply in this situation."

If he was on his way to the session, was he going to attend drunk? If he was leaving, was he drinking during the session? :)


via International Skeptics Forum

Houston family opens fire during third home invasion


Investigators say it's possible all three attempts to rob a family's southwest Houston home were executed by the same group of suspects

The video goes on to say that the repeated attempts to invade the home may have been to intimidate the family.


via International Skeptics Forum

Gigantic ring system around J1407b much larger, heavier than Saturn's

The title is a bit misleading because J1407-b is most likely a brown dwarf (10-40 Jupiter masses) rather than a planet. So it could also be titled "Very tiny solar system in the making" :)

via International Skeptics Forum

Ancient planets 80% as old as the universe itself



The Old Ones were already ancient when the Earth was born. Five small planets orbit an 11.2 billion-year-old star, making them about 80 per cent as old as the universe itself. That means our galaxy started building rocky planets earlier than we thought.

"Now that we know that these planets can be twice as old as Earth, this opens the possibility for the existence of ancient life in the galaxy," says Tiago Campante at the University of Birmingham in the UK.

NASA's Kepler space telescope spotted the planets around an orange dwarf star called Kepler 444, which is 117 light years away and about 25 per cent smaller than the sun.

Orange dwarfs are considered good candidates for hosting alien life because they can stay stable for up to 30 billion years, compared to the sun's 10 billion years, the time it takes these stars to consume all their hydrogen. For context, the universe is currently 13.8 billion years old.

via International Skeptics Forum

lundi 26 janvier 2015

"The Manipulation Game"

I feel I already know the answer to this:

I just watched a very silly show called "The Manipulation Game" with Derren Brown. In it, he purports to program an unsuspeting dupe into confessing to a murder he didn't commit.

The standout moement for me was when he used hypnotism to put the guy on the lawn while he was still asleep.

I've read about Brown, but the internet isn't turning up much on this particular show.

Since convincing someone he'd killed a man seems astonishingly abusive (and a personal injury attorney's paradise), is there anyone here who knows enough about Brown to reassure me that he didn't just scar a guy for life?

via International Skeptics Forum

Major eastcoast storm. Why are important details not released?


A tractor-trailer jackknifed, and a beer truck crashed into the median on Interstate 81 near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during the morning commute. No injuries were reported.

What about the fate of the beer? :(

In all seriousness. This looks like a good one. Been there, done that. Be safe.

via International Skeptics Forum

Why Do People Beleive In The Existance of Enigmatic Creatures?

Such as Bigfoot, Lock Ness monster, and all those other creatures that, so far, have not produced any real evidence of their existence? Is it because a few have been proven to exist, such as the celecant fish once believed to be extinct for ions?

I find myself still following news of reported "proof" (that never seems to be definitive) for a few of the more popular creatures even though my belief in their existence is very low at best. So is it curiosity? A feeling of power in our discovery of such questionable creatures (fame/fortune)?

I think I follow these topics because of the mystery of why people believe in such creatures' existence maybe more than the creatures themselves.

via International Skeptics Forum

The Meme Evolves: Mercury in Vaccines is Bad, Y'all!

I put this in Social rather than Medicine because it's the social aspect which interests me.

I was at a family party last month, when the topic turned to a 15 minute discussion about how evil mercury in vaccines was. With the exception of me and three old women, who had no clue, but agreed with the consensus, there was universal knowledge of this fact.

Not a kibitzer or two -- everybody had heard it, and "knew" it.

There was not a mention of autism -- the meme had severed its reliance on autism as the Big Bad, and had co-opted its fraudulently purported mechanism of action into that role. And not even the mechanism -- just mercury itself is bad, mmmkay?

From what I could gather, it was about mercury as poison, though some were more about individuals with mercury allergies. The latter, however, didn't even enter the mind of most, who were in the former camp.

via International Skeptics Forum

Halton Arp Replacing Big Bang Creationism

In this video Halton Arp explains that quasars are ejected from active galactic nuclei or AGNs.

This means that quasars are not at their proposed redshift distance, and also means that redshift of galaxies can be re-interpreted without big bang creationism.

The kinks need to be worked out, but the essence of this understanding is that Big Bang Creationism and all the theory that is based on it is obsolete.

R.I.P. Dr. Arp

via International Skeptics Forum

External Drive - Files System changed to RAW

I have an external hard drive that can't be read and shows as File System = RAW under Disk Management when it should be NTFS. There is nothing vital on it but it would be nice to be able to recover the data.

I've done some Googling and it seems likely that the partition information has been lost. I've tried a couple of recommended programs, Recuva & Easus Partition Recovery without success. I've seen the suggestion to reformat the drive and then let a file recovery program try to get back the files. I'm willing to try that but not until I've exhausted other possibilities. It's not worth using a recovery service but I would pay up to $50 for software if it had a good chance to work. Anyone have any suggestions?

This is on Win 8.1 system but I do have access to Win 7, XP & Mac OS X 10.7.5 systems. By coincidence I have a blank hard drive arriving today or tomorrow that is larger than the one in question, if that could help in any way. I'm thinking if I have to go the reformat route that I might take a disk image before hand, if possible.

via International Skeptics Forum

Chrome freeze fix.

Chrome has been freezing on me lately, but I found a quick-but-kludge fix. I just start Task Manager. Chrome unfreezes immediately.

Is this a symptom of something that can be fixed?

via International Skeptics Forum

Are Conservatives dominated by the extreme right wing?

On any number of occasions, I’ve read posts that indicate (to one degree or another) that the Republican Party, and by extension, those who consider themselves conservatives, are dominated by the extreme Christian right wing. I wonder if this is truly the case or just another example of Lenin’s “ when you lie, call your opponent a liar first” method of debate, and if not how it applies to this forum.

Here are a number of questions that should help to get a ball park reading, depending of course on how large a sampling we get.

In order to keep everyone at least reasonable honest, this will not be a secret ballot poll. If you choose to participate, you should at the least, make one post that indicates where you stand.

via International Skeptics Forum

dimanche 25 janvier 2015

Miss Lebanon Fumes: I Don't Fraternize with Miss Israel

I just saw this on TV. Back on January 11th in Miami, contestants in the Miss Universe beauty contest were relaxing when Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, took a selfie of herself standing alongside three other contestants: Miss Lebanon, Miss Slovenia and Miss Japan. Miss Israel then put the photo on her Instagram page. People began to notice that in the photo Miss Israel is standing right next to Miss Lebanon -- the two countries are still officially at war (and have been since 1948) -- and word about it began to spread on social media. Most Lebanese were not at all happy with this and many said Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, should be, among other things, replaced. But was that fair to Miss Lebanon? Miss Lebanon says she was simply minding her own business


when Miss Israel came along, pulled out a smartphone and snapped a selfie — posting it on her social media accounts and implying to all the world that the Lebanese beauty queen had been fraternizing with the enemy. News link

Fraternizing with the enemy? Not even close, says Miss Lebanon.


"Since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel,” Ms. Greige wrote on her Facebook page.

Miss Israel took a different view, writing on her Facebook page:


“Too bad you cannot put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country."

via International Skeptics Forum

How to Predict the Unpredictable

There is a spoiler at the end of the prologue to this, which is that humans are predictable when they try to be random. Though, this reviewer was more intrigued in the opener to learn of Claude Shannon's 'Ultimate Machine', which she swiftly you-tubed. She's a fan of that already. Anyway, there are a couple of useful truths in this book (which is alternatively titled "Rock Breaks Scissors") Both of them are deceptively simple, and both have generally wider implications and usefulnesses than . . . well, wider than merely intriguing the nerd quotient who would tend to show interest (this includes your reviewer).

The first truth is that however hard people try, they find it very difficult to simulate randomness. In a cute rotation of Nassim Taleb's angle, never mind being fooled by randomness, it is not very easy to attempt to fool *with* it.

The author mostly credits this discovery to Louis Goodfellow, a psychologist who successfully debunked a nationwide telepathy stunt conducted via a radio show in America in 1937 by Joseph Rhine. But it was the Zenith Radio experiment that accidentally unearthed it. The ESP tests produced impressive mass-audience guesses about random selections, and popularised "Zener cards" during the ensuing virality. Goodfellow figured out that even if the transmission was a random sequence, audiences' attempts to guess it were not, and clustered around favourites. He published in a psychology journal a year later. The 'eureka' hidden therein, which was lost for a while in a sceptic/paranormal fight-fest, is far better than a mere falsification: in demonstrating that a touted display of mindreading was fake, Goodfellow actually discovered an authentic form of mind reading.

It's hard for the human mind to generate anything truly random, because random is different from random-looking. If asked to mimic a typical sequence of coin-toss results (for example), most will under represent sequences of consecutive heads or tails. Because these don't look shuffled enough, and folks think the law of large numbers also applies to small ones (which it doesn't, hence the need for 'large'). When asked to think of a random number between 1 and 9, people won't choose the extremes, or the middle, and they prefer odd over even. The result is that 7 is the reply systematically more than it should be. In games of rock-paper-scissors, players don't repeat the same choice three times in a row, and if they lose a throw they most likely switch. Alphonse Chapianis turned study of all this into 'ergo metrics'.

Here's the point: randomness is unpredictable. So anything that fails to be random is predictable, at least to some extent. And this can give those in the know an edge. Unless assisted by software, answers in a multi-choice test will not be randomly distributed nor randomly conceived. The lottery numbers will be, but popular choices for them won't, so there are some selections (for rollover jackpots, which make odds less stratospheric) that are better than others. The type of serve used by skilled tennis players isn't properly randomised either (penalty kicks in football are more likely to be). So if you randomise your serve, using an external cue, your prospects improve. Finally, it is pretty hard these days to compose a digital password or PIN that machines can't discover. Not impossible though.

Having an edge means being able to outperform randomness. That isn't much help if the hurdle to win is way higher than that, as it is in multi-choice tests, and in betting prices that include a spread, and in having to actually be better than your sporting opponent in the first place. But there is lower hanging fruit. A useful occurence is Frank Benford's law of naturally occuring first digits (they are inversely popular to their magnitude, and this is a derived property of a preponderance of exponential distributions in nature and society). Checking a series of numbers (such as Bernard Madoff's investment returns) against Benford's law raises red flags of fakery that are hard to spot otherwise. Idiosyncratic last digits, Chapanis-style, are a check on embezzlement too.

The book's second eureka is a corollary to the first. Given a severe difficulty in producing random series, people also don't recognise it (and doubt it) when it happens. Particularly the incidence of consecutive repetition in randomness which is universally underestimated. This bias is responsible for belief in 'winning streaks' (serial correlation) in sport, gambling, and markets. In fact consecutive wins don't happen more often than chance except in the presence of selective incentives (extra rewards), but the belief is a universal illusion.

Some follow on implications of this--what amounts to a biased crowd some of the time--are explained. In short it becomes a second-derivative parameter of out-guessing: out-predicting the public's collective guess. The latter is a foundational property of financial market prices. And it is possible to beat randomness here by betting against the winning streak bias. But this reviewer thought the lengthy last chapter on beating stock markets was too facile and no use. Since that is the arena she 'doesn't know least' about, she should perhaps be sceptical about the other chapters offering potential advantage as well.

But a richer seam of 'out-outguessing' seems to be in the realm of staying on the good side of differential pricing strategies, which are both increasingly widespread and more thoroughly researched thanks to 'big data'. A 2012 New York Times article reported how some of this was successfully gamed by blogger Emily Vanek. It turns out that exhibiting actions of a perpetual fence-sitter--switching brands, being marginal and equivocal (such as abandoning online shopping baskets after entering contact info), appearing unopposed but unconvinced, and importantly, deleting cookies religiously--will get you more attention, and more inducements--from those after your cash. Potential customers are always treated nicer than existing ones.

This does all feel like something of an effort though, which is of course why it can have an expected return better than nothing. And somewhere lurking in this enthralling text is the revelation that evolutionary fitness is normally better served by jumping to supposedly irrational presumptions. So that's presumably why we're not random. Randomness can survive on its own, and will probably be here longer.

via International Skeptics Forum

"A Shocking Number of Americans Under 30 Have No "

You guessed it, "no religion".

A Shocking Number of Americans Under 30 Have No Religion — This Country Is Going to Change

Americans are abandoning religion in droves.


n the two years leading up to his death, the legal and political philosopher Ronald Dworkin was completing a slim volume with a weighty title. Religion without God, which began as a series of lectures in 2011, set a lofty goal: to propose a “religious attitude” in the absence of belief. Dworkin’s objective was not just theological. The book, he hoped, would help lower the temperature in the past decade’s battle between a group of scientists and philosophers dubbed the New Atheists and an array of critics who have accused them of everything from Islamophobia to fundamentalism to heresy.

Although the New Atheists are part of a long and distinguished tradition, including (but not limited to) philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Bertrand Russell, they are notable because they have made atheism a pop success in the U.S. Since the 2004 publication of Sam Harris’s post–September 11 polemic, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, the kingpins of the movement—Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Daniel C. Dennett, and A.C. Grayling, to name a few—have launched diatribes against God and belief. To them, religion is at best superfluous, at worst (in Hitchens’s words) “allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children.” This zealous attitude has earned the New Atheists high-profile critics, including Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, who recently wrote in a column for The Spectator:


Where is there the remotest sense that [the New Atheists] have grappled with the real issues, which have nothing to do with science and the literal meaning of scripture and everything to do with the meaningfulness or otherwise of human life, the existence or non-existence of an objective moral order … and the ability or inability of society to survive without the rituals, narratives and shared practices that create and sustain the social bond?


Happily, there's nothing controversial in this article.

via International Skeptics Forum

How do I turn off auto de fe?

I'm being annoy by that guy in the red robes and funny hat. Is there any way I can stop this?

via International Skeptics Forum

1.5 billion pixel image taken of the Andromeda galaxy.

Apparently Hubble has been spying on our neighbor:


The biggest as well as sharpest image of the Andromeda galaxy, captured by the European Space Agency’s Hubble Space Telescope, was recently released at the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The image in question is a very high-resolution picture of the Andromeda galaxy at 1.5 billion pixels.


The picture is so detailed that it displays each and every star of the galaxy individually. Scientists also say that there is possibility that some of specks of light seen in the image could be a potential planet like our Earth.


This image was created as a mosaic of 7,398 exposures taken over the course of 411 pointings of the telescope, according to Hubble officials.

Low res version:

This one shows you what section you are looking at in the above:


You can explore a zoomable version of the new PHAT image directly through Hubble here:

via International Skeptics Forum

samedi 24 janvier 2015

Why Libertarianism is the most dangerous political philosophy in America

REAGOP overlord Charles Koch brags that their anarcho-Libertarian/Social Darwinist machine is "only getting started":

Here's only a part of what the "end goal" of the Koch's looks like (from the 1980 Libertarian platform promulgated by David Koch [Presidential candidate]):

  • “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”

  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

  • “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”

  • “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”

  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”

  • “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”

  • “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”

  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”

  • “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”

  • “We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”

  • “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”

  • “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”

  • “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”

  • “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”

  • “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”

  • “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”

  • “We demand the return of America's railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”

  • “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called "self-protection" equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”

  • “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”

  • “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”

  • “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”

  • “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”

  • “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”

  • “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”

  • “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

  • “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

God help us if they gain much more power than their bought-and-paid-for Congress already gives them.

via International Skeptics Forum

The poor don't pay their fair share

Obama said everyone needs to pay their fair share. Warren Buffet said that the rich pay less than an average secretary.

This to put it mildly is crap. The middle class and the poor pay very little in taxes in proportion to their income.

Tax Calculator:

Example 1: Middle class family earning the median income

Married couple, 2 kids

50K annual income

$366 of federal taxes

or 0.72% wow!

Example 2: Single Wealthy Guy


150K income

$32,334 federal taxes paid

21.5% tax rate

Example 3: Rich Capitalist

500K in investment gains realized

100K in taxes

approximately 20%, this is approximate since the rate is 15%/20% based on the brackets. This also doesn't take into account inflation, if this had been invested since 2000 the real return would have been zero.

Example 4: Obama's example in state of Union

Single mother

2 Kids

25K in income

Taxes Paid = -$5,535

Yup you read that right, she gets a check from the government for FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!!!

How in gods name does anyone say that the Rich don't pay their fair share???

Again this doesn't include the death tax, payroll taxes, sales taxes or other host of taxes. But it gives you a sense of how unfair our system is. It gives you a sense of how little people pay at the expense of others.

via International Skeptics Forum

Weird water vortex

My father-in-law told me a story about he and his friend going ice-fishing some years ago. They where on this small lake in the forest making holes in the ice with a ice drill like this one (dont know if it was driven by a motor):

In the hole a water vortex was somehow created and it kept going for a while, if I remember correctly, maybe 1-2 hours. And then it finally stopped.

They had never seen anything liked it and asked me to explain the phenomenon. But I couldnt. So I thought I give it a shot at the ISF :)

Any thoughts?

via International Skeptics Forum

Reciprocity of SR Length Contraction for Dummies

Reciprocity of length contraction is a logical consequence of Special Relativity. The higher the speed and Lorentz factor, the easier to recognize the dubiousness of this SR prediction. Let us start with these premises:

  • A distance of 100 light years, e.g. from our planetary system to a target 100 LY away (rest-frame)

  • A ruler (i.e. length unit) with a nominal (or proper) length of 1 LY

  • Measuring our rest-frame distance of 100 LY with the ruler moving at v = 0.99995 c (moving-frame)

As Lorentz factor of 0.99995 c is 100, the moving ruler is contracted (from 1 LY) to 0.01 LY in the rest-frame.

Common sense would suggest that with respect to the 100-fold contracted length-unit, rest-frame distances (in direction of motion) are or seem to be increased 100-fold, in our case from 100 LY to 10 000 LY. The reason is obvious: 10 000 rulers with nominal length of 1 LY, but actually contracted to 0.01 LY, must be put one next to another in order to fill the whole distance of 100 LY.

Special Relativity however states that with respect to the moving ruler, distance from us to the target is reduced from 100 LY to 1 LY (moving-frame). This is possible only if the length of the ruler increases 100-fold (i.e. from 1 LY to 100 LY in the rest-frame), as the 1-LY-ruler must cover the whole distance of 100 LY at the same time. This then means that with respect to the moving-frame, the ruler itself (with a nominal length of 1 LY) has the same length as the rest-frame distance of 100 LY. In this way a moving-frame length of only 1 LY can be attributed to the 100-LY-distance.

Here the question arises:

How can a ruler, contracted from a nominal length of 1 light year to 0.01 LY, be on the other hand expanded to 100 LY with respect to the same rest-frame length-units?

The answer is astonishingly simple:

Actual simultaneity has to follow Poincaré synchronization.

With respect to rest-frame simultaneity, the distance between front and back end of the moving 1-LY-ruler is 0.01 LY. If from the center of the contracted ruler a light signal is sent to both ends then this signal needs tBack = 0.005 LY / (c + 0.99995 c) = 0.0025 Year to reach the back end. To reach the front end, the light signal needs tFront = 0.005 LY / (c - 0.99995 c) = 99.9975 Year. So in the rest-frame, the event of reaching the front end occurs dt = tFront - tBack = 99.995 years after having reached the back end.

These two signal-receiving events, occurring 99.995 years one after the other in the rest-frame, are declared simultaneous in the moving frame. So in order to use this ruler as a length unit with respect to moving-frame simultaneity, its front end must have moved at v = 0.99995c 99.995 years longer than its back end. Only during these 99.995 years of unchanged motion, the ruler can increase from 0.01 LY (rest-frame length, rest-frame simultaneity) to 100 LY (rest-frame length, moving-frame simultaneity) by adding 99.99 LY (equals v * dt).

Only insofar as the ruler is itself expanded to 100 LY, it covers with its own nominal length of 1 LY the whole 100-LY-distance, and thus theses 100 LY turn out be just 1 light year.

In our case, SR prediction of reciprocal length contraction would only make sense in case of unchanged (inertial) motion of the ruler front-end over at least 99.995 years!

Summary for Lorentz-Ether-Theory with SR interpretation:

A ruler (i.e. length unit) of 1 light year moving at 0.99995 c is used to measure an ether distance of 100 LY. The moving ruler is obviously contracted to 0.01 LY. If all inertial movements enjoy equal rights then with respect to the moving ruler, ether distances must also be contracted 100-fold, i.e. the ruler with nominal length of 1 LY must cover our whole ether distance of 100 LY.

Such a 10000-fold length increase can be achieved by sending a signal from the center of the contracted ruler to both ends and by declaring signal-reception as simultaneous. Because of ether wind, the signal needs 99.995 years longer to the front-end than to the back-end. And during these 99.995 years of constant inertial motion, the distance between the ruler-ends increase from 0.01 LY to 100 LY, leading to an attribution of only 1 light year to the 100-LY-ether-distance.

For better understanding see also.

Cheers, Wolfgang

Veneration for the paradigm shifts of the past often affiliates with abhorrence for possible paradigm shifts in the present

via International Skeptics Forum

How to turn off auto-fill-in?

Not sure exactly what you call it. When I start typing in any kind of webpage box, like the "Title" box of this message, my computer pops up another little box with suggested words that covers anything just above the box where I'm typing.

I'm using a Bluetooth keyboard on a Kindle Fire HD.

The suggestions are from things I've typed previously that are usually completely irrelevant, like when I typed the "H" of "How" it immediately suggested "Hello," the subject of an introductory message I'd posted on another forum.

It's very annoying because the suggestions are not only irrelevant, their little box sometimes covers things I need to read. But how do I turn it off?

I've tried using the pull-down menu from the top of the screen, settings>keyboard and playing with everything there, and I've turned all the auto-correct things to "off," but I can't find anything there that works.

Note this is not the on-screen suggestions that appear above the on-screen keyboard. These are suggestions in a box above any fill-in box on a web page.

Any ideas how to turn it off?

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In New Zealand Conservation Means Killing Things

Don't laugh. According to an article in the Dec. 22, 2014 issue of The New Yorker:


Rats and other invasive mammals are destroying New Zealand’s native fauna. A quarter of native birds are extinct. The kiwi is threatened. What can be done? “Conservation is all about killing things,” a volunteer coördinator said.

New Zealand's Department of Conservation has been using massive amounts of a toxin known as 1080 to try and eradicate the invasive species. ("The key ingredient in 1080, sodium fluoroacetate, interferes with energy production on a cellular level, inflicting what amounts to a heart attack.") New Zealand has roughly one-tenth of one per cent of the world’s land but eighty per cent of the 1080 used worldwide is used in NZ. In 2014 the DOC planned to spray 1080 over nearly two million acres. This was prompted by an unusually warm winter, which produced an exceptionally large supply of beech seed, which in turn had produced an explosion in the number of rats and stoats.

It's a serious problem. The invasive species are destroying New Zealand's native plant life at an alarming rate. Even the iconic Kiwi is threatened with extinction.

I know we have New Zealanders among the members here and I'd like to hear their thoughts and etc about this crisis. Because apparently it is a very real ecological crisis.

via International Skeptics Forum