Epic Rap Battles: Mitt Romney vs Barack Obama

Guess I should post this before it’s no longer relevant. NicePeter’s run-in as Abe Lincoln really made this one, though that Obama impersonator is awesome as always. How many videos has this guy been in? I’ve seen him like a dozen times now.

For what it’s worth, the Frank Sinatra vs Freddy Mercury battle was far and away better than this one. Mostly because Mercury easily and handily won, as well he should. You need to see it for the Tay Zonday cameo as Sammy Davis Jr.

The rest are here. You can apparently download the mp3s and get merch if you’re so inclined. I can’t say I’m not considering it.

And people complained about MY Venn diagrams!

These ads for some service called Speck apparently ran recently in New York. I’m sure New Yorkers have more important things to worry about right now, but I thought I’d catch the rest of you all up on this ad, which completely mangles the very concept of the Venn diagram to a far greater degree than I ever could.

Speck ad: Venn diagram of three circles labeled 'People who live in SoHo', 'People who live in NoHo', and 'People who can afford their rent', with the Speck logo in the triple overlap.

Copyranter has more. Apparently the entire ad campaign is predicated on making three mutually exclusive categories and saying their service, Speck, is for people who are in the overlap between them. When people got annoyed, their response was apparently “lol we’re dumb.” Yeah, I have to say that advertising a service as being for exactly zero people isn’t the best way to sell your service.

Okay, in THIS case, Speck might be for the super-rich people who own two houses in two separate districts of town, and can afford them both. That’s still not exactly defining a huge niche for your product.

(Inb4 trolls saying “they’re still better than yours!”)

Video of ConEd building explosion in NYC

Apparently this is the ConEd building at E14th and FDR. Pretty cataclysmic. Shouldn’t be long before news outlets start picking this up. If you’re in the path of this hurricane, get off my damn blog and get to a hurricane shelter ASAP.

And remember, Mitt Romney will get rid of FEMA. He said so himself. But don’t worry, his sons are invested in disaster recovery companies.

Mock The Movie: Bride of the Monster Transcript

Bah! In the middle of repairing a busted desktop, which I’ll need if we intend to go through with this 24hr gameathon I’ve got planned with JT Eberhart ready to roll any time soon, so I’ll come back and edit in the subtitle files ASAP. CA7746 also sent along a hilarious screenshot of Bela Eyebrows.

Avicenna of the newly-assimilated A Million Gods joined in on this mockery. Enjoy!

Update: Here’s the subtitle file. Save as (moviename).srt in the same folder as the movie. Also, a screenshot of the kinds of hilarious moments you’ll see if you watch this movie with the subtitle file.

Screenshot: Bela Lugosi's eyes with the caption "@brx0: Bela eyebrows! DRINK!"

All the extra interface stuff is from CompulsoryAccount’s subtitle generating app, which lets him shift people’s views/tweets around and produce an actual, polished, properly-timed mockery. It is truly a work of art to watch one of these movies with our mockery in-line. Trust me. Or don’t even trust me — download the subtitle file and try it out yourself.

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Hard drive recovery 301

Let’s say you have a hard drive whose media is failing but whose controller card is still functional. Let’s further say you have a desire to pull a partition off that drive and see what’s still salvageable. And let’s further say you have a computer you’re okay with leaving on for a month or so to do it. All of these things were true about a hard drive that Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite, sent along to me to try to recover — there were some family photos and tax returns that he hadn’t had backed up anyplace when the drive started failing. Being the samaritan that I am, I took the project on as a way to hone my own skills. I also had a feeling I could write a blog post afterward so others might benefit.

This isn’t a 101 level course. Hell, it’s not even a 201, as it assumes you know enough to use Linux’s terminal (no GUIs in this post!), and how to connect your hard drive through a USB adapter or directly. It also assumes the hard drive is in a specific state that it might still be readable even if Windows itself can’t get at the data. This last one is a fairly big assumption, and I trust you’re going to be able to identify when that’s the case.
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First world problems discussed by people with third world problems

Yeah. Our lives, our hyper-privileged lives, spent not having to worry about clean water or health care or food. Okay, some of us do, but very likely not the people reading this blog right now. These Haitians (I presume, by the French and the conditions) certainly put things into perspective.

I know that we can all focus on more than one injustice in the world at a time. I’m aware that every one of us — while we all work to further atheism and skepticism and social justice in our societies — at least has a computer or mobile smartphone on which to read blogs and write comments. That makes us all extremely privileged. That doesn’t make us bad, that doesn’t mean we should be ashamed, but it does mean we’re deprived of perspective sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong. Focusing on our problems, our squabbles, our attempts to use social disapproval as the only tool at our disposal to force those without working empathy centres in our brains to actually care about treating one another properly in our lives is not a waste of time or resources. It is not the same thing as focusing on how terrible an injustice it is that you have to buy two wireless routers. But still, it is beneficial to get a little perspective once in a while.

If trolls get you down, go make yourself a cup of tea, and remember that you don’t have to worry that there are parasites in your water. And if you have some spare coin, consider giving it to Water Is Life.

Keep doing what you can to improve your lot in life. When you can, do what you have the spare resources to do, in order to improve others’ as well.

Mock The Movie: Bride of the Monster

Yeah, yeah. We know. MST3k already pretty much pulled this apart and reassembled it into funny faces like so many Mr. Potatohead parts. But watching people mock crappy movies is not nearly as fun as mocking them ourselves. So, this Thursday, we’re going to take on the Ed Wood “classic”, Bride of the Monster. The trailer:

It’s free to watch via Youtube, and this Thursday we’re going to mock the ever-loving crap out of this movie, Bela or no. (Seriously, I love Bela Lugosi, but he probably would have taken any job at all as long as it paid.)

The instructions for playing along:

  1. Start following @MockTM on Twitter.
  2. Start watching the movie on the appropriate Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT.
  3. Once you’ve got the movie going, tweet your snarky comments to @MockTM.  Directing our tweets to @MockTM will keep our followers from being overwhelmed with our snark!
  4. Set up a search for @MockTM on Twitter for the duration so you can follow along with everyone else sharing your pain.

If you have suggestions for other movies that can and should be mocked, send them to @MockTM (or on this post’s comments might work too). Preference will be given to movies that are free or stream on the major media delivery services. Watch the feed, and we’ll set up the calendar for more terrible, mockable movies.

Martin S Pribble on “The Hyper-Skeptic Problem”

Sorry. It’s shaping up to be another one of those weeks. Seems a lot of us around these parts are being struck with Real Life all at once. I don’t have it as bad as some, certainly, but I’m pretty swamped out at the moment. So I’m more than happy to spread around what few hits I can direct to others who are out there taking and throwing the punches that I wish I could be.

Like Martin S. Pribble, and his fantastic treatise on the “hyperskepticism problem” that I’ve touched on myself a number of times.

Hyper-skeptical viewpoints give rise to conspiracy theories, paranoid delusions, and, surprisingly enough, misinformation. The hyper-skeptical mind will not accept facts, much in the same way a religious mind cannot accept facts. The hyper-skeptic is so deeply entrenched in the idea of “not believing in anything” that the world becomes a huge bully, just trying to feed them falsehoods in order to make them “part of the system”.

It’s difficult to know how someone can arrive at a hyper-skeptical viewpoint. Could it be that there is no way to “know” anything, as all information is presented from information from another human mind (which could also be a delusional mind)? Added to this is the concept of “irreducible complexity”, one where a person may look at a situation, and step-by-step, ask questions that are increasingly out of the realm or scope of the original question or statement. Bill O’Reilly is famous for such questions, able to flippantly throw aside all claims by asking “But how did it get there?” when talking of unrelated topics such as tides.

The main point here is a concept known as “reasonable doubt”. It is an evidentiary concept, used both in courts of law (“A standard of proof that must be surpassed to convict an accused in a criminal proceeding”) and in scientific discovery (where enough evidence is presented that doubt is diminished beyond consideration). It is the standard of evidence to which we must hold all claims in order to evaluate their efficacy.

It applies in a lot of ways to the internecine warfare we experience in our atheist and skeptic communities. Every time one of us employs a sociologically sound and evidence-based scientific concept that conflicts with someone’s dearly-held point of view about some topic or another, you couldn’t hit the buttons on a stopwatch fast enough to measure how long it takes before the person presenting the concept is decried as dogmatic, shrill, or some other pejorative term that amounts to a shorthand for “they disagree with me, therefore they’re being mean to me, therefore they’re wrong”. The main examples that spring to mind immediately are the so-called “race realists”, the climate “skeptics”, and (yes, definitely) the anti-feminists and MRAs and misogyny-apologists.

While we call them “trolls” as shorthand, they certainly don’t think of themselves as such. Sure, they use troll tactics to derail and damage conversation, but they really, truly believe that there’s a scientific reason to be racist, that the evidence for global warming isn’t overwhelming, that Schrodinger’s Rapist and the concept of privilege are dogmatic and the real problem with gender. So while there’s no “for the lulz” aspect, these people are definitely trolls in the exact same way as the average conspiracy nutter with tin foil hats demanding that Obama prove he’s not a Bigfoot reptiloid from the alien planet of Kenya.

At any rate, go read Martin’s post. It’s top-notch.

That Mitchell and Webb Look on gendered TV ads

That Mitchell and Webb Look is the same series that resulted in that Homeopathic Hospital sketch that like everyone in the skeptical blogosphere has posted at some time, that ‘atheist miracle watermelon’ sketch that everyone in the atheist blogosphere has posted at some time, and the “How would BBC1 handle an alien invasion” sketch I featured here a while back.

I said then that they appear to be eminently meme-worthy. Here’s yet another brilliant example of how meme-worthy they are.

Yep. That pretty much sorts it all out.