How physics helps me identify and ignore woo

I feel that I have obtained a huge benefit from having studied physics, especially quantum physics. On the one hand, it has given me a sense of wonder and awe at how the laws of nature work to produce the universe we occupy. The theories are really quite beautiful, the experimental methods used to study them incredibly ingenious, and the implications quite profound. [Read more…]

COINTELPRO all over again

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the massive NSA spying program has less to do with combating terrorism and is instead just a modern and highly sophisticated version of COINTELPRO (COounter INTELligence PROgram), the secret spying network the FBI set up in 1956 to supposedly combat the threat of Communism but expanded to infiltrate, monitor, subvert, and destroy those organizations whose activists were simply engaged in actions that the US government did not like. Rising public protests against the Vietnam war and social and economic injustice was something that the government was determined to suppress. [Read more…]

Glenn Greenwald blasts another BBC journalist

By now it should be clear to practically anyone who follows news with even the mildest critical gaze that the leaders of governments lie. In order to serve their purposes, they are willing to lie routinely, unscrupulously, shamelessly, and indiscriminately. The only thing that stops them from lying is the fear of getting caught and even then, in the case of James Clapper who still has his job even after lying under oath, it is sometimes not enough to stop them. [Read more…]

The power of acting

The comment threads, especially on highly popular sites) can rapidly degenerate into ugly name-calling. But in this funny sketch (via Neetzan Zimmerman), two actors give a dramatic reading of a comment war between two people in which the topic of discussion is whether Harry, whom I’m guessing is a member of the singing group One Direction, is gay. They actually manage to elevate to something that could have been written by David Mamet. (Language advisory) [Read more…]

Stop with the ugly neologisms

One of my biggest peeves is the media creating ghastly and unnecessary new words that are mash-ups of two perfectly good words. We have had abominations such as ‘snowcalypse’ and ‘snowmageddon’ for what could be more simply described as a severe snow storms, and ‘staycation’ to denote a vacation spent at home. I am sure there have been many others in the past that I have deliberately driven out of my memory because I despise them. [Read more…]

My annual Thanksgiving appeal

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US, an occasion when family and friends get together to go shopping and fight with other people to get the best bargains. No seriously, at its best, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, free from commercializing and just spent socializing. In fact, it has become my favorite holiday for reasons given here. (This year we received a Happy Thanksgiving card, which I view as an ominous sign of attempts to commercialize this holiday as well. It was from a firm we deal with and I hope that the practice does not spread.) [Read more…]