Monthly Archives: March 2009

Actor Andy Hallett Dies

Goodbye Lorne.


1975-2009

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Peekaru – It’s like stupid product month or something

Seriously. Anyway, Peekaru is like a Snuggie (a.k.a. the wtf blanket) for you and your baby. It’s a baby carrier that’s also a sweater! Why? I have no fucking idea. I don’t even want to imagine the mechanics of getting this on before your autumn morning park walk. But my favorite part is this:


It’s not so much a kangaroo sack as it is your own personal Kuato. Open your mind to me, mommy! Open your miiiiiiind…

Also a great way to still look pregnant after you’ve had your baby. So that’s a plus. You inventors keep reaching for that rainbow.

UPDATE: Just look.

YouTube shit the bed

Sigh.

I don’t know why yet, but the JREF YouTube account has been suspended. Yeah I pretty much wtf-ed all over myself, too.

To complain show support go here. To mirror a “protest” video on your YouTube account go here to download the video and upload it to your YouTube account. Please put the instructions on how to do so in your notes like so. Thanks.

Sigh. That an EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION can be banned on this site now is too ridiculous for much comment. Just go. Complain. And sigh.

UPDATE: The interwebs are abuzz. Also, many mirrors have already appeared. Keep it up.

UPDATE #2: Apparently Rational Response has also been suspended. And Atheist Media. [Apears to be not a thing anymore. Atheist Media can still be found here. So there’s that, anyway.] SIGH.

UPDATE #3: I sent in another complaint to YouTube after my initial complaint about the JREF:

It appears that not only has JamesRandiFoundation been suspended, but also AtheistMedia and RationalResponse — and possibly others. This sends the message that there has possibly been a flagging campaign against these accounts from those who do not appreciate their shared message. I hope that YouTube will rectify this immediately.

UPDATE #4: Ok everyone. Calm down. 1) Phil Plait is on the case. He assures that details will come. Sit tight. 2) Please don’t make the assumption that the JREF wants or appreciates any kind of “retribution” for this. Be proactive, but civil.

Being skepical at work #2

Statement: “Did you know KFC changed its name because they couldn’t claim their food was chicken because they actually grow headless, feetless chickens in a lab? I saw it on 60 Minutes!”
Claim(s): The restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken grows in vitro meat. This story was on 60 Minutes.

My immediate response: “No, dude. No.”

Results of research: FALSE

Right off the bat, I figure this claim is ridiculous because I’m pretty sure that we (humans) don’t have the technology yet to grow in vitro meat. I would imagine if we did, it would not be limited to a single restaurant chain so they could produce chicken-like meat to sell to people looking for a quick meal. I’m thinking it would be a Nobel prize winning achievement that would cure world hunger. PETA would be THRILLED at the prospect of meat that doesn’t involve killing a living animal and would be huge fans of KFC. Lastly, if such a thing were true and was on 60 Minutes (or any other TV program) I would probably be able to find clips of it on the internet.

So off I went and surprise, surprise, no such clip was found on their site nor were there any stories related to the restaurant in relation to growing meat in labs. Instead, I found a story that mentions protests of the restaurant by PETA which contradicts the prediction above (ie. PETA would be fans of in vitro meat). I also found stories that talk about animal cruelty accusations against the chain which pretty much throws the idea of in vitro meat out the window on its own. Why would they be torturing animals if they could just grow a chicken breast or leg in a lab?

But I pressed on. Turns out this urban legend is actually pretty old and Snopes has already covered it so my work was already done. Yay! It actually goes back to at least 1999, a full 8 years after they changed their name. Snopes does a good job of debunking the myth on the link so I won’t step on their toes but my favorite part is that despite the “justification” of this myth being that they had to change their name because they can no longer advertise their product as chicken, the KFC website uses the word “chicken” numerous times.

Lastly, my old friend wikipedia has a whole host of links about in vitro meat. Remember that KFC changed its name in 1991 and yet according to New Scientist in 2002, scientists are still not able to produce edible meat in the lab. Also, as recently as 2008, PETA launched a $1 million challenge to the first people who can create edible, tasty in vitro meat. So if KFC has had this highly advanced capability for the past 20 years, and it was well-known enough to appear on 60 Minutes, why is PETA running this contest in 2008? And why hasn’t KFC (or its parent company Yum!) claimed this prize? Why is PETA still accusing KFC of animal cruelty and boycotting its restaurants today?

Obviously, none of the facts add up to support the claim and, in fact, counter the claim quite handedly. For the record, I WISH this were true but alas, wishful thinking is a dangerous thing sometimes.

Lost Live Blog: He's Our You

Let’s get it on. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

1:40 WHAT A GREAT CHESS GAME!! YES, LET’S PLAY ANOTHER!!

2:45 Haha. You losers thought the kid who didn’t want to kill the chicken was Sayid didn’t you?

3:10 Oooooh, the kid who did kill the chicken was Sayid! :) Geez, show, catch up.

4:20 He already knew Richard, eh? Well perhaps I can’t blame Sayid for the downfall of Dharma society after all…

4:45 Young Ben is like Dakota Fanning evil…

7:05 You know how you know it’s the past (well, technically the future)? He has different hair. Beard and brushed out curls = “past”/future. No beard and curly curls = now.

7:50 How exactly did random foreign dude pose a threat to any of the Oceanic people? Or anyone else Sayid killed (just because Ben told him to, by the way – !???) for that matter?

8:55 “Put out your hands”, I ask menacingly for no reason just so that you can assume I’m going to torture you even though I’m just going to cut your bindings.

9:05 Sigh, it’s a burden being this good. Or it’s a shame Lost is so predictable.

10:55 “The next level” is really loud Celine Dion…or would be if she had released any albums in 1977. Stupid anachronistic joke…make me look dumb…grumble grumble…

11:10 Either this guy is a bad actor and doesn’t mean to sound this way, or he knows more than he’s saying to test “LaFleur” seeing as how he came to the camp under equally odd circumstances.

11:50 “A [wicked creepy] 12 year old Ben Linus just brought me a chicken salad sandwich. How do you think I’m doing?” LAWLS!

12:50 Wow Sawyer, could you have done a worse job of explaining the situation and why Sayid should cooperate? Now he’s going to go all apeshit stupid. “Then I guess I’m on my own.” Told you! Sayid, what is your fucking problem? Ever hear of a phrase that goes “benefit of the doubt”? WHY ARE YOU THERE?

13:40″And you’re going to?!” SO it’s not just me that’s surprised by Jack obeying Sawyer then…

14:30 So is Kate sort of upset because Sawyer is with Juliet or because she’s socially inept and didn’t pick that up?

15:10 Ben’s an abused child. That’s why he’s evil. All abused children turn evil, doncha know, and/or all evil people have an excuse for being that way.

17:10 WHYYYYYYY does anyone listen to Ben EVER? I will never understand this.

20:20 Is this supposed to be some weird self-inflicted punishment as a form of retribution for the people he’s killed? Or do I think too much?

20:50 Sawyer really should have done a better job at convincing him to go with the story. What if he snitched on all of them? What is the point of any of this?

27:10 If that guy is going to be annoying, and he is routinely annoying, WHY DID YOU BRING HIM?

30:55 “Let’s kill him!” If these people were ever stuck in the Andes, they would resort to cannibalism in about 5 minutes.

31:40 WHAAAAAT? You tried once not very hard to convince Sayid to join you without explaining why and he didn’t want to so now you’re voting kill him just not to get found out so you can try to help him escape later and somehow get caught for it? Good plan.

32:40 Imagine that, Miss Femme Fatale was really a femme fatale.

33:00 Oh that’s why he “happened” to be going to Guam.

34:20 If this was all just one big plot contrivance just to kill off Sayid, I’m going to be pissed.

36:40 “Everyone get to building 15 now!” Don’t you see?! It’s a decoy! Ben did it!

37:35 “Yes, Ben, I will. That’s why I’m here.” Did Ben hypnotize him the way TV hypnotism works? I can’t tell because Sayid’s got that crazy look in his eye. That “I’m calm on the outside but…” look. PS: I told you Ben did it.

40:30 Of course it’s Jin, because if it was anyone else Sayid would be shot so the plot requires that it be Jin who hasn’t been in the episode at all other than to serve this purpose.

42:00 Well, either it’s not that Ben like we thought or he isn’t dead because it’s already been explained to us about a bajillion times that only things that happened can happen. OR Sayid is magically exempt from the laws of time travel and Ben will poof out of existence thereby pissing off any fan of the show with a science degree.

While part of me wants to go “oh cool, the Losties were secretly in on everything”, another part of me is going “what a bunch of lazy retcon bastards”. How convenient that the Losties are linked to every important event on the island. That doesn’t answer any questions of why things happens, it just fills in extra coincidences for how things happened. I want answers. If the show ends and I get none, I declare Lost an epic fail.

Being skepical at work

Lots of people claim to be skeptical. When people see or hear a wild claim or something that is too good to be true, most of us perk up, raise an eyebrow and go “I don’t know about that.” This is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But unfortunately, most people stop there. For those of you who know me personally… you will probably remember an instance where I didn’t stop there. I usually don’t. I usually do a bit of research in my spare time to investigate the subject with a little more depth. Thankfully, since the advent of the internet, this is very easily done.

Most people don’t do this for a variety of reasons but the one I have had explained to me a lot is that they just don’t care. It’s true… most of the topics are such trivial minutiae that they don’t affect your daily life, but why would anyone want to continue to believe something that is blatantly false? Or why would anyone settle with not knowing either way when a cursory search of websites can provide a solid means of finding out? I understand if you don’t have time… but most people can afford the 5 minutes here and there.

SO, with that introduction out of the way, I will describe various things that I have heard at work that have lead to research and the fruits of those endeavors.

#1: I’ll start with one of the older ones I can remember that actually turned out to be pretty interesting to study.

Statement: “I saw this show where an engaged couple broke it off and the man took the woman to court to get his wedding ring back and the judge ruled that she had to give it back to him because it was considered a contract. Since they broke up, the purchaser of the engagement ring was entitled to get it back”

Claim: A legal ruling was handed down stipulating that an engagement ring had to be returned to the person who bought it if the engagement is broken off.

My immediate response: “That sounds retarded.”

The result of research: TRUE!

So if you didn’t already know about this, your initial reaction may be similar to mine. As far as I knew at the time, returning an engagement ring was simply a matter of politeness or etiquette or at best, a social more. In conventional wisdom, you would tend to think that if a dude got engaged, shelled out the money for a ring and then they broke up, well… tough luck for the dude if the woman decides to keep it, right? To suggest that a judge can impose such a thing on a person and be backed up by a law seems a bit crazy. Turns out however, that engagement rings and engagements in general have their own little sets of laws attached to them. In fact, an engagement ring can be considered a “conditional gift” that represents a contract. The woman may keep the ring ON THE CONDITION that a marriage will happen at a later time. If that doesn’t happen, the ring should be returned to the person who purchased it. Of course it depends on the state/country in question… but that was not the point of the argument.

So there ya go… I wanted to start off with this one because I don’t want to give anyone the impression that this series will be all about me being right and my coworkers being dumb. Not at all. In this case, I fell for a common sense fallacy. When I went into work the next day I freely admitted that my coworker was right.

In this case, as expected, my coworker was fine with the results of my research…. you will soon see however, this is not always the case. :)

[Edited to clarify links.]

Happy Birthday Leonard Nemoy!

Not to be outdone by The Shat’s 78th birthday, Leonard “I am not Spock” Nemoy turns 78 today as well. Happy birthday you logical bastard! ‘Cause I’m pretty sure you were Spock.