Wedding mode go!

I’m going to be in wedding mode for the next week. Work needs to be brought to a position where it can coast for the duration of my time off, and I’m going to be far too preoccupied with other stuff to blog regularly, so there’s a chance I won’t be able to post anything major for a while. I’m sure you won’t mind. I’ll do the standard Blog Cruise Control thing and link to various Youtube videos I find amusing or galling or what have you.

I hope to have videos of the wedding up on the 7th at the very latest, ripped from ReformedYankee’s camera and converted to something for public consumption, barring any unforeseen circumstances. There’s also a good chance @CyberLizard and @JSWadley will be live-tweeting the wedding proceedings. If we set up a picture feed I’ll of course link it here as soon as it’s ready to be used.

Kindly keep an eye on the intertubes for me in my absence, folks.

Science vs Psychosomatic Illness (Science vs Garlic Redux)

I am consistently amazed by how entrenched some people can get in their positions. I’ve had a “cell phones cause cancer” proponent posting on an older post about a local garlic farmer that impeded the erection of a radio tower because he had a gut feeling it would cause mutations. This troll points out they’ve actually studied garlic mutations in 1959 in the presence of a high-radiation field — I can’t find this study specifically, nor has the troll any intention of ever posting it.

The point is, every study that’s been posted claiming there’s no statistical link or even correlation between cell phone usage and cancer rates, every study that claims such radiation can’t even harm DNA to begin with, is dismissed out of hand as invalid by this guy, without citations. Why I’m countenancing putting him in his place is wholly beyond me. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s relatively local to me, or the fact that he’s spent hours posting his pseudoscientific claptrap to try to “convert” me. News flash, pal: you can’t just cite studies with science whose conclusions agree with you, without also explaining away the science that doesn’t. Especially not when the balance of that science weighs against you. I am convinced by evidence, not by people really, truly, and dogmatically espousing viewpoints then building “evidence” to corroborate.

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Open letter from Dr. Sell to the Sunday Times of London

Remember the study I mentioned last week, where Dr. Aaron Sell had supposedly claimed blondes are “warrior princesses”? Remember how it was mostly fabricated by the media and has yet to be properly corrected in the outlet that initially fabricated the story? Well, Dr. Sell certainly didn’t. Nor have I. It appears neither of us like to be made fools, though my own self-inflicted foolishness must by necessity be dwarfed by the outrage of having your scholarly name dragged through the mud.

I contacted Dr. Sell upon reading this letter and requested permission to republish it in its entirety in order to correct the record here, as I had also taken their “quotes” of him at face value. He has granted me free leave to do so, and in fact wants the widest dissemination possible — please feel free to republish. If nothing else, this is yellow journalism and must be squelched. One does not fabricate pullquotes for an intentionally sexed-up story from whole cloth, no matter how bad your sales are flagging.

The original paper is available here, and you’ll quickly note if you search it, the word “blonde” does not appear even once. A copy of this paper was included in the following letter to the Times of London.

To: The Editor of the Sunday Times, London
From: Dr. Aaron Sell, University of California, Santa Barbara
Re: Fabrications in Times article

Today the Times published an article, “Blonde women born to be warrior princesses” by John Harlow, purportedly based on my research. Journalistic ethics requires, at a minimum, that you remove from this article all references to me, and to the research I and my collaborators have conducted. This article consists almost entirely of empirical claims and quotes about blonde women that Mr. Harlow fabricated, and then attributed to me. Please take the article offline immediately. Once your investigation is completed, please issue a retraction. I trust that the Times is committed to being accurate, and the clearest measure of this is the speed with which it removes obvious and demonstrable falsehoods. I have appended the research article, so you can see for yourself.

The rest below the fold…
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Challenger

I was seven years old when this happened, and I remember when I first saw the video I was absolutely horrified.

Watching it again, I still get a catch in my throat.

On January 28th, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff. During deceleration, the O-rings used to seal the solid-fuel rocket boosters, which had frozen in the cold weather by the time of launch and could not be extruded in time to seal the joints, disintegrated. This caused the catastrophic failure of the structural integrity of the shuttle under its extreme acceleration, tearing it apart. The shuttle capsule then went into freefall. Three of the astronauts managed to get their emergency air turned on before they passed out. All aboard died when it hit the surface of the water at 333km/h. The crash caused a deceleration of 200 g — well beyond the momentary survivable crash impact of 100 g, and also well beyond the “likely death or injury” level of 50 g.

Richard Feynman famously took NASA to task over their wagon-circling during the blame game that ensued. He performed a modicum of science in a courtroom showing that the O-rings when frozen didn’t have the resiliency to seal the rocket boosters, exposing their internal self-perpetuating blindness to proper safety protocols. Like the parable of the man who wills himself into believing the boat he just sold to some emigrants will make one more voyage across the Atlantic despite knowing it cannot — the scientists within NASA were intentionally blinding themselves to the possibility that they had done something wrong. And in so doing, they were endangering the very new practice of reaching out and discovering the universe.

Thank science for men like Feynman.

“Girls brains are much stupider than mens are…”

“… so they should always listen to us coz WE’RE SMART!”

WikiwikiWHAT!? Break it down!

I was a pedantic dick to @dELYSEius on Twitter today, teasing her over her choice of words in a tweet immediately after she said she was going to find out the sex of her baby today (and not her baby’s GENDER, which she’ll rightly wait 10-20 years to allow it to form itself). Anyway, in the course of the conversation I promised to post this video as atonement for my lack of hilarity. So here it is.

It’s kinda catchy, actually. And I dance just like him!

Christian Video Games Part 2: Wisdom Tree’s roots

When I left off yesterday, I’d given you an overview of Wisdom Tree’s more horrible offerings. But of course, I’m not done yet — not while they still exist. And they do still exist, you know. And their idea of taking existing video game concepts and grafting Bible quizzes on them is now practically a time-honored tradition in Christian video games today, so you can’t say they weren’t influential.

In case you missed it, Part One is right here.

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Christian Video Games, part one: Noah’s Ark and Wisdom Tree

A few days ago, Dan J‘s wife @chaosagent23 tweeted thusly:

I’m a gamer and I have to ask myself why? Why does this exist? http://bit.ly/6D7XPV #games #fundietarded #nonsense 8:57 PM Jan 25th from TweetDeck

She was referring to Bible Navigator X — a downloadable X-Box Live “game” that you can purchase for 400 Microsoft Points ($5 USD). This reminded me of the expansive library of absolutely horrid Christian video games I have forced myself to try, and the expansive library of other such horrid video games that I have yet to see outside of Youtube videos and Seanbaby reviews.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized, this is exactly the type of thing that’s my particular bailiwick. Thus, a multi-part blog post was born.

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