Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A replicator of cultural information that one mind transmits (verbally or by demonstration) to another mind

   I'm not even gonna really think any more. I'm just gonna keep ripping off the stuff that Dan has ripped off from someone else. Did that sentence make any sense?

     Here's a meme [Dan] swiped from Miss Jackie's journal Waiting to Exhale

1-What do you want people to say about you when you die?: I really won't care, you know, being dead and all.

2-How long does it take you to get ready to go out?: Let's go!

3-If you were an animal what would you be?: I am an animal. I am a human being.

4-What's your biggest fear?: Fear itself.

5-What’s your most prized possesion?: My Canadian First Edition Hardcover copy of Guy Gavriel Kay's novel Tigana. No, wait. I lent that to someone andthey never returned it. Damn!

6-What’s the funniest word you can think of?: "Real psychic."

7-Do you get along with your parents?: See? Every one of these things has at least one dead giveaway question that proves it was written by a teenager. Of course I get along with my parents. I'm over 40 years old. I long ago let go of any teenage angst I had over that.

8-What do you look for in the opposite sex?: Great...tracts of land.

9-What was the most difficult thing you had to do?: Take my pregnant wife home from the emergency room after being told the the child she was carrying was no longer alive.

10-If you were given one day to live what would you do?: Being an evil atheist, I'd probably go on a mad killing and raping spree.

11-If you could relive any day of your life either for good or to change it what would it be?: I would have worn a different shirt on school picture day in 1983.

12-What's the worst feeling in the world?: Losingsomeone you care for.   The best?: This is AOL, remember. PG rated journals. Sorry. Use yourimagination.

13-If you could meet anyone who ever existed who would it be?: "Holy Mary Mother of God"   why?: To ask her who really knocked her up.

14-What was the meanest thing you ever did as a little kid?: Mean? What are you talking about? I was a little angel.

15-What have you learned about love?: Yeah, right.

16-How have you changed in the past year?: Well, according to my annual check up, I've gained seven pounds... 


It's always a rainy day without you


   Today marks the second anniversary of the creation of this blog. The graphic above represents the past year of traffic here.

Some artifacts of interest:
The huge spike right at the left edge of the picture marks the week I was the Guest Editor.

I think the abrupt canyons in mid August and mid November are the result of AOL glitches that prevented the counter from registering hits. At least one of those was the time all of the data in my about me section disappeared into the ether, never to return. I had to recreate it from memory.

The large depression from mid December to mid February marks the period I was without a working computer, and so not posting any more frequently than once every couple of weeks.

A similar, but smaller depression in what looks like the second half of September doesn't ring any bells with me. I can only assume I was being particularly boring for those two weeks. (Having just gone and looked, I can only say, "hellooooo? You were in Italy for three weeks and couldn't make a single entry during that time, remember? D'uh!)

   The graph only shows one year of traffic because I had just installed my third party counter about ten days before my first blogiversary. I have no stats on record for that first year. According to Journals Editor Joe, and the journals development team, is one of the websites whitelisted to allow a limited form of javascripting in the future. Hopefully, this means I'll soon be able to track referring sites and search engine strings to find out even more about the people who visit, where they come from, and what they want (although to judge by what my friend Jaquandor regularly discovers about his visitors, that may not be a good thing).
   If I squint my eyes, and turn my head just so, it seems to me that the graph displays a general upward trend in traffic. That would be cool, if true. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who comes by and reads regularly, whether you comment or not. It is rewarding having an audience, even a small one. I appreciate you.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

CarnivAOL 16

   The sixteenth edition of CarnivAOL has been published, with a dozen links to great entries in a dozen great journals. Actually, it's a baker's dozen, but if you're here now, you've already read the thirteenth one. Go, Go now, and read.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Out of context quote of the week

"I did it with my dad. … We're country."
     --Britney Spears


Friday, June 23, 2006

Why I won't seethe a kid in its mother's milk

   Dianna (The Conscientious Objector, and Dianna's Mindless Musings) left the following comment here the other day:
Comment Added
A comment has been posted to the Journal:
Aurora Walking Vacation
Thursday carnival info
Comment from: sazzylilsmartazz
"Paul, this is probably going to sound like a dumb question but if a person is an atheist, i.e. does not believe in the existence of any deity, do they still have a moral conscience? What about lying, stealing, cheating, murder and all of the other things that are actually harmful to other human beings? How does an atheist feel about those things and what do they teach their children?
I'm agnostic, meaning I do not know if there is a god or not. Whenever we look at the history of religion we see nothing but bigotry and bloodshed. Yet, when I read the Ten Commandments in Exodus, I feel all the laws are "good" for people but the ones who seem to break them most are the religious leaders themselves.
What do you think the world would be like if everyone suddenly became atheist?
   Rather than respond privately via e-mail, or in the comments section where she asked the question, I felt it was necessary to answer here. This is probably one of the most commonly asked questions, or at least one of the most commonly expressed opinions about atheists; that without a belief in a God, we would somehow lack a moral compass in our lives.
   The short answer, Dianna, is yes, I do still have a moral conscience. I do believe that "lying, stealing, cheating, murder, and all of the other things that are actually harmful to other human beings" are bad. But, I don't believe that they are bad just because some alleged, invisible sky-daddy said so. I believe they are bad because they are harmful to other human beings.

   This is the thing that makes atheists shake their heads in frustration. We hold our morals, which really aren't any different from your morals, out of respect and consideration for our fellow human beings. According to religious people, they hold their morals only because God tells them to. Only through a fear of hell does a Christian not covet his neighbour's monster truck. Only through a fear of eternal damnation does a Christian not lie, steal and cheat. Only through a fear of the loss of his immortal soul does a Christian plunk his ass down in the pew every Sunday morning. Who would you rather trust, the guy who would screw your wife if only God hadn't said it was wrong, or the guy who wouldn't, because he knows it's wrong without having to ask a dead guy nailed to a tree first?
   Here's the mistake many Christians make. They think that an atheist's rejection of God constitutes a complete rejection of all that Christianity stands for; of all that The Bible says. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I say in my list of 100 things about me, I've read The Bible from cover to cover (well, I kinda skimmed the begets). I think it is a marvel of human literature, and full of much wisdom. I also think that great, honking sections of it are full of shit, but for the most part, it offers a lot of wisdom.

   I think I have mentioned before that whenever my family and I visit my Sister's family in Ottawa, we accompany them to church on Sunday. The Pastor of their church has a remarkable ability to give biblical teachings relevance in our twenty first century world. I often walk out of the chapel with moistened eyes, humbled by something he has made me realise about myself, and my relationship with those around me. At no time, however, has one of those experiences led me to question my atheism. I believe that there is great wisdom to be found in The Bible. I simply believe that it is human wisdom. 
   There are some things that cannot be denied. It is clear that there is morality in the world. The vast majority of the common people in the world live their lives according to some moral code or another. To deny the existence of that morality would be silly. It is evident in every single thing we do, each and every day of our lives. So, denying the existence of a God is not equal to denying the existence of morality. It simply reassigns the source of that morality. To us. To you and me.

   The Golden Rule is where it's at, baby. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That's all there is to it. I understand how I would be harmed were someone to lie to, steal from, cheat on, or murder me. That translates into understanding how others would feel were I to lie to, steal from, cheat on, or murder them. Or do any of the other things that are actually harmful to other human beings. The expansion of that concrete knowledge of how I would feel, into the abstract, empathic knowledge of how others would feel in the same situation is the very basis of humanity's moral compass. As far as I'm concerned, humanity developed that moral compass first, and attributed it to the Gods later.
   We're really not all that different, the theistic, and the a-theistic. We both teach our children exactly the same morals. I just don't attribute mine to Invisible Pink Unicorns, Blue Fairies on the Moon, or other silly things for whose existence there is no supporting evidence.
   And that's all I have to say about that.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Thursday carnival info

   In what is becoming a regular post for me every second Thursday, I would like to now call your attention to two matters:

The latest edition of the Skeptics' Circle has been published at Autism Diva.

2) I am actively seeking submissions for the next edition of
CarnivAOL, to be published next Tuesday. Get your e-mailed submissions to me by Sunday at Midnight to be included. For more information about CarnivAOL, go there and read all about it.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I'm getting a 'B' it an 'S'?

   I was watching my favourite local morning show again. This morning they had a psychic as a guest. Yesterday (when they had a homeopathic doctor on) both of the hosts expressed skepticism at the idea of psychic powers, and said they were going to ask this guest some skeptical questions. That, of course, did not happen.
   Did the producers nix that idea? Or did the psychic refuse to appear under those circumstances? Or are the hosts just unsure of what constitutes skepticism? I have no idea, but the segment was a completely credulous one, with the one host eating up everything the psychic said, and the other host not even in on the interview.
   The (alleged) psychic did make some predictions for us to examine.

1) Germany will win the World Cup. Well, she couldn't very well have taken Brazil, them being the favourites and all. Germany is a pretty safe pick. Several places I have looked have them as the second favourite, and I have seen no one suggest that they rank out of the top four.

2) While the USA will have to contend with several hurricanes this year, none of them will be as bad as Katrina. This is also a fairly safe prediction. Katrina was the worst hurricane ever measured, according to some sources. It's likely we may not see another one that strong for a long time. It's like predicting that no major league baseball player will hit 400 this year.

3) Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will marry this year, and have another child. That child will not be adopted, but via a pregnancy. While she predicted the marriage to happen before the end of this year, there was no time frame set for the child. Another safe prediction, because, in this case, true or not, who really cares?

4) Jennifer Lopez is pregnant right now. The news will come out soon. Big deal. The tabloids have been buzzing with pregnant J-Lo rumours for two years. Lopez herself has recently admitted to the media that she and her husband, Mark Anthony, are actively trying to get pregnant. Not a very difficult prediction to make.

5) The morning show interviewer, who is pregnant herself, will deliver her child on July 1st or 2nd. She is due July 7th. No comment.

6) Toronto will have a bad year for shootings, but 2007 will be better due to improved enforcement. Well, last year was the worst year for gun related crimes in Toronto history. With this year half over, and with a significant number of shootings already, including several very recently in the news, this is a pretty safe prediction as well. So far this psychic hasn't really gone out on any limbs. She's making predictions that anyone who follows the news regularly could also make with confidence.

7) Toronto need not worry about a terrorist attack. I hope she's right. Based on recent happenings here in Canada, I think we need worry. However, vigilance may prevent tragedy, and I'm going to believe that's what she meant. I'll be happy if she gets this prediction right.

   There they are. Seven "psychic" predictions made by "celebrated" Toronto psychic, May Miller. I have reproduced them here so that we can check up on her accuracy later. Two or three of them we will know in short order, and two or three more within six months. Stay tuned.


Other times I can hardly see

Nicked from Dan (who later pointed out that questions number 20 and 29 were missing from the list, so I did some googling and found them, and really, they're pretty lame, but I put them in there anyway):

43 of the MOST random questions...

1. Where were you 1 hour ago?

At the stoneyard buying flagstone and chipped red brick. 

2. Who will be your next kiss?

Probably my wife, but you never know.

3. Is there anything pink within 10 feet of you?


4. When is the last time you went to the mall?


5. Are you wearing socks right now?


6. When was the last time you went out of town?

Define "out of town." 

7. Have you been to the movies in the last 5 days?


8. What was the last thing you had to drink?

Coffee. Ah, swwet, sweet addiction.

9. What are you wearing right now?

Shorts and a t-shirt...and socks. Well, sockettes, really. And underwear. I'm wearing underwear. I'm not one of those perverted naked computer stalkers.

10. Have you been in a car wash?


11. Last fast food you ate?

DQ Chili Cheese Dog. I'll never do that again. Oh, I went through the Wendy's drive thru and ordered a Soquid the other day. The lady didn't know what I was talking about.

12. Where were you last week on Saturday?


13. Have you bought any clothing items in the last week?

Underwear and Sockettes. 

14. When was the last time you ran?

Never. I don't see politics in my future either.

15. What's the last sporting event you watched?

Right now I'm watching the World Cup football match between Germany and Ecuador.

16. What is your favorite class?


17. Your dream vacation?


18. Last 3 people's houses you were in?

In-laws. Parents. Um... Ah, bpslider45's 

19. How old are your parents?

Not quite 70.

20. Are you in love?


21. Do you miss anyone?

Occasionally. I usually have time to reload. 

22. Last play you saw?

... No idea.

23. What are your plans for today?

Stuff. And junk (used without permission). 

24. Who is the last person you commented on myspace?

I don't go to Myspace. It's silly. 

25. Ever go to camp?

Yes. Not recently. 

26. Were you an honor roll student in school?


27. What do you want to know about the future?

Anything. Make any concrete, verifiable predictions. I don't have high hopes, though.

28. Are you wearing any perfume or cologne

No. But I plan to shave later.

29. Are you hungry?


30. Where is your best friend located?

Do people have "best friends" at 40?

31. Do you have a tan?

Yes. In places.

32. How old do you want to be when you have kids?

I suspected this was a silly meme created by a silly pre-teen. Now I'm past halfway through it, I might as well finish. That's another fallacy, by the way. It's called the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Remember, it's never too late to cut your losses.

33. Do you collect anything?

Not with a passion. I dabble in antique cameras.

34. Last time you got stopped by a cop or pulled over?

You know, the HPV incident

35. Have you ever drank your soda from a straw?

Never had soda. Drink pop, though. Through a straw when I get it at the fast food places. Straight out of the can or bottle otherwise.

36. How do you like your drinks?

In my hand.

37. Do you like hot sauce?

I like spice. It's a flavouring, not a challenge to your manhood, OK?

38. Last time you took a shower?

Sunday. I'm heading there next, though. Wanted to wait until I had finished hauling all that stone around.

39. Who do you have a crush on?

My wife. What did you expect me to say? She might be reading.

40. What is your mood?

Not sure. What's this mean?

41. Are you someone's best friend?

No idea.

42.Are you rich?

I have my health, my wife, my son. I have a roof over my head, a car in the driveway, and food in the fridge. But, no.

43. What do you think of the person who took this survey before you?

I'm pretty sure he's not a terrorist. At least, not a very good one.


Sometimes the light's all shining on me

   Teresa invented her own meme. This is it.

What high school did you graduate from? Bayview Secondary School, although I only spent one semester there. Most of my high school life was spent at Langstaff Secondary School.

What year? 1985. OK, I have a question here. I entered my final year of high school in the fall of 1984, and graduated in the spring of 1985. So am I the class of '84 or '85? I have never been able to figure that out.

Do you remember your schools newspaper name? I don't think there was a school newspaper.

How about your school mascot.What was it? A "Golden Bear."

What were your school colors? Blue and Gold

Did you belong to any clubs, academic or otherwise clubs? No. Well, I joined the chess club one year, but that didn't last, because I wasn't very good.

Were you in student counsel? No.

Were you involved in sports? Curling. Stop laughing.

What crowd did you tend to hang out with? I hung out with the same group of guys with whom I had been hanging out since kindergarten. We weren't really part of any "crowd."

Were you named "most likely to" in any category for your graduating class? No.

Did you have a favorite teacher and subject? The first couple of years Math was my favourite class because it was easy for me. By mylast year English was my favourite subject because it was actually interesting. I can't think of any one single teacher who made a significant, life altering impression on me.

What did seniors do traditionally at your school do to celebrate graduating? (by this I mean an activity not condoned by the school).  No idea. While I graduated, I did not take part in any of the traditional graduation activities. My parents don't even have a High School Grad picture of me, nor does one appear in my yearbook(s) from my graduating year.

Did you have a high school sweetheart? And if you did, what became of that relationship? I dated a couple of girls in high school. One of whom it would be fun to meet up with and reminisce, and one of whom it wouldn't. And then there was this girl I met in the last few months of my high school career. I married her.

On a scale of 1-10, just how cool were you in high school? I'd have to say depending on the year. I varied between 3 and 5.

Name a few popular things (bands, type of clothing, catch phrases) from your high school days.  Oi! The early eighties. Where to begin? Thin leather ties. White socks under black pants and black shoes. Cabbage Patch Kids. Rubik's Cube. Reganomics. Boycotted Olympic Games. Falklands War. Yuppies. Personal computers. Compact discs. Sony Walkmans. The Space Shuttle. MTV. Michael Jackson's Thriller. Break dancing. Glam metal. New wave. The Star Wars Trilogy. Tron. The A-Team. Knight Rider. Dallas. Trivial Pursuit. Donkey Kong. Space Invaders. Asteroids. I say again, Oi!

Lastly, got your high school year book picture? Post it.

Preview   Preview   Preview
        1980                             1981                        1982

   There don't appear to be any class pictures of me in either the '83 or '84 yearbooks. I suspect that's because in'83 I should have appeared in a Grade 12 Graduation photo, and did not, and in '84 I should have appeared in a Grade 13 Graduation photo and did not. Or maybe I just wasn't paying attention. Those years are all pretty much a blur these days.
   There is, however, this rather odd shot near the back of the '83 yearbook labelled 'Halloween Dance.' I'm the goofy looking one with my eyes closed and a cancer stick in my hand. What a long strange trip it's been.


tags: ,

Monday, June 19, 2006

Would you like to play a game?

Can you spot the logical fallacy?:
1) The bible is the best selling book of all time. Millions of people believe in it. Therefore there must be something to it.

2) Evolutionists claim that a monkey gave birth to a human being. This is obviously ridiculous, and they can present no evidence to support that position. Therefore evolution is false.

3) It is inconceivable that a world this complex could have arisen by chance. Therefore, there must have been some intelligent design agency.
   It was, of course, a trick question. Each of the above statements are examples of fallacious reasoning.

   The first is what is known as an argument from popularity, which asserts that popular support for a position gives that position validity. This argument is fallacious because it is easily possible for many people to believe in something that is untrue. Several hundred years ago it was almost universally believed that the Earth was the center of the universe, and that all other heavenly bodies revolved around it. That idea is now known to be completely false. The fact that millions of people believe something to be true in no way proves that thing to be true.

   The second statement is called a strawman fallacy. In it, the arguer has constructed a strawman replica of his opponent's position. It resembles his opponent's argument in some ways, but is weaker, and can easily be refuted. Having done so, the arguer wants his listeners to believe he has successfully refuted the actual argument.
   In the above example, no evolutionary scientist has ever claimed that a monkey gave birth to a human being. Refuting that argument does not, in any way, refute the real arguments put forward by proponents of evolution.

   The third statement is what is known as an argument from personal incredulity. Just because the arguer cannot conceive of a situation does not mean it is impossible for that situation to arise. Someone with more imagination may be able to reason it out. In many cases, the particular event or situation may already be adequately explained by current science that the arguer is unaware of.

   Of course, pointing out to someone that their argument is based on a logical fallacy does not disprove their position. It only means that they have failed to prove it themselves. Believing that pointing out to someone that they have failed to prove their point refutes their point is another logical fallacy called the fallacist's fallacy.
   This is an important thing to remember. Just because you catch the person you are arguing with in a logical fallacy does not exempt you from falling into the same trap. As skeptic, it is my job to argue effectively, without using any of the same fallacious reasoning I might come across in the arguments of those I engage. 
   So, for example, calling Ann Coulter a fatuous, lying, stork-like, ugly witch is an Ad Hominem attack, and completely irrelevant to any discussion of the opinions expressed in her book. So I won't do it.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Screaming headlines

   The headline on the AOL welcome screen said, "sunscreens slammed as cancer risk." Holy Cow, I thought. Don't tell me Kevin Trudeau was actually right about something. I'd better click through to get more information.
   When I did so, the headline on the AOL News page was a little bit different:
Sunscreens Faulted on Cancer Protection. That sounds similar to the first headline, but it doesn't quite read the same, does it? When you read the article you find that sunscreens are not, as stated in the first headline, "slammed as [a] cancer risk." No, what you find is that most sunscreens do not offer as much protection against skin cancer as they could, but mostly because they tend to be applied incorrectly and too infrequently by users:

Many sunscreens say little about when to reapply - doctors say at least every two hours and after swimming or sweating. Nor do they say much about how much to use, roughly two tablespoons for an adult.

``Most people who use an SPF 15 get the protection equivalent to an SPF 5 because they put it on'' too thinly, said Dr. Martin A. Weinstock, chairman of the American Cancer Society's skin cancer advisory group and a Brown University professor.

While a higher SPF number means more protection, the difference is small: SPF 15 blocks about 93 percent of UVB rays and SPF 50, often more expensive, blocks about 98 percent.

Most sunscreens work by reacting chemically with the skin, so they don't start absorbing damaging rays right away and must be applied a half-hour before going outside, something many labels fail to note.


Still, doctors say people shouldn't abandon sunscreen: They probably should use more.

``Sunscreens do protect against skin cancer,'' said Dr. Babar Rao, a dermatologist at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. ``We definitely still need sunscreen, even on a cloudy day.''

Research has shown heavy sunscreen use lowersrisk of squamous skin cell cancer, which has a high cure rate if caught early. Another study found heavy sunscreen use in children reduces the number of moles, which can turn cancerous later, Weinstock noted.

(Bolding mine in the above.)
   So, is sunscreen a cancer risk? Sorry Kevin, no validation for you today. What's the moral of the story? Don't believe the headlines? Partly. I think a broader moral would be, think critically about every single thing you hear. Everything is not always as it seems, or as it is stated.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006


You Are 56% Gross
You're more than a little gross, but probably no more gross than the average person. Maybe it's time to drop some of those disgusting habits that could eventually embarrass you!

via. Courage.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006


   We will serve no [CarnivAOL] before its time.

It's time!


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

AOL journals R6 upgrade

   My fears appear to have been unfounded. Edit controls abound this morning. Still no spell check, though...


Monday photo shoot

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Find a picture in your files that is technically bad, but is still interesting to look at. By "technically bad," I mean things like people are partly out of frame, your subject is out of focus, everyone has red eye, people's heads are cut off, there are in appropriate blurs, so on an so forth. But even so, it's still an interesting picture to look at.
   Well, I don't have very many pictures that could be classified as "technically bad." I don't take very many because I worked in the photographic industry for several years and am very familiar with photography from both a technical (how a camera works) and conceptual (how to take an acceptable picture) standpoint. That's not to say that accidents don't happen, but I tend to delete those in camera almost immediately.

Edited to add: you know, having just read this back, it comes across as pretty darn arrogant. I'm not trying to say that I don't take bad pictures. I'm just trying to say that I don't take very many pictures that are bad for technical reasons. Artistically bad pictures, on the other hand, account for a good 85% of all the photographs I take.

   So, my photo, much like the one John used to accompany his entry, is more of a happy accident, than a technically bad photograph. After a soccer game a couple of years ago, I was taking pictures of Matthew and a couple of his friends. They were, as ten year-olds are wont to be, somewhat rambunctious and playful. One time, Matthew threw up his hands to block the camera. Luckily, the auto-focus had already locked on his face, so his hands are blurry, but his face behind it is in focus. Also luckily, the camera caught one of his eyes, and the corner of his impish grin.
   I think this picture really shows Matthew's personality, even though you can only see about 20% of his face. This is one of my favourite photographs of him. I like it so much I often use it as a wallpaper on my computer.


p.s. The next scheduled upgrade of the AOL journals software goes live Tuesday morning at 4:00 AM. If it resembles the beta version currently running (and Journals Editor Joe says it will), then I will wake up tomorrow with banner ads across the top of my journal, and a complete inability to add or edit entries. So, if I don't update for several days, don't get too concerned. I'll just be over testing's software.

A late addition to the Monday Photo Shoot:
   I just remembered this shot I took in Italy last year. We were driving down the Autostrada from Messina to Catania, on our way to visit Mount Etna. At one point, just north of Catania, there is an open portion of road with a great view of the mountain. I quickly stuck my camera out the car window, and snapped one frame. When I looked at the picture later I found that a road sign was positioned just so. Another, as Wil said, 'serendipitous' occurence.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Green sleeves

   This is mostly for the edification of personal friends and family. Click on the link below to see Matthew playing in his first public recital.

note: post edited June 10, 2007 to embed video rather than having a clickable link.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


   A suprise update alert in my e-mail today. Just One Girls Head Noise.

We all miss her too, Christina.

"Paul Little is..."

   Karen reminded me about Googlism. I couldn't remember what it was called when I put together the previous entry last night. Here are some highlights of what, according to Googlism, "Paul Little is..."

paul little is cautious
paul little is the station manager of an fm radio studio in texas
paul little is also concerned about the oaks project
paul little is unimpressed with his first contact with the rovers
paul little is a quito
paul little is emphasising absolute truth
paul little is calling for an independent inquiry into the murder
paul little is perhaps her best sex scene
paul little is clear on the implications that this has for christians
paul little is the chief information officer of verge technologies group
paul little is seeded second at 14
paul little is recognized on his most worthy selection
paul little is a classic bestseller that has been revised for a new generaton
paul little is optimistic
paul little is the kind of person we can do without in the industry
paul little is an asshole

   Without a doubt, there are a few ironic statements in the group. For many of you, that last one will be what is referred to as a "googlegasm."


What's under the burkha?

   I dropped by Dan's place today, and he had another one of those meme things going on. So, I figured, since he's stealing material from me, it's only right I return the favour.
   The deal with this one is, you type your name, and the word 'needs' into the Google search box. You then copy the first ten non-repeating complete sentences it presents you with. Like this:

Paul needs free music downloads. The first ten or so results were like this. Apparently, there is a musician somewhere named Paul Needs.

Paul needs a haircut. When you keep your hair this short, that's pretty much always true.

Paul needs your help... Please call the number on your screen, and give whatever you can afford.

Paul needs happiness. Don't we all?

Paul needs volunteers. To answer all those calls. To bring me happiness.

Paul needs specs. Actually, my old ones are getting pretty scratched up. And I probably need a new prescription anyway. (I think this one is referring to that musician again).

Paul needs enough light to create a nice even wash across the stage. Because, you know, presentation is everything.

Paul needs to focus more on capital management. 'Nuff said.

Paul needs to get out of New York for a while. Sure. I'll go with that. Because, in order to get out of New York, I would have to be in New York, and that would be cool.

Paul needs to stay away from drug users like George Michaels. Aw, Mom! Why can't I pick my own friends?

   I'm told Dan stole this one from
Pat, who in turn got it from Carly. Yeah, I know. It's not nearly as fun as it sounds. Instead of doing that, you might check out this video evidence that the American presence in Iraq is having a westernizing influence on their society. Girls Gone Wild Baghdad.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Weekend assignment

PreviewWeekend Assignment #115: You'll find an online highway sign generator here. Go there, write your own highway sign, and post it in your Journal or Blog.

   As you can see, I have decided to participate in John's weekend assignment this week. I love playing around with these sign generators, but I'm never happy with the captions I come up with. They just never seem to be as witty as I think everyone else's are.
   So, with that in mind, I present to you the mediocre comic highway sign. (By the way, we call them highways here in Southern Ontario. What do you all call them where you live?)
   The sign to the left isn't from the exact generator John linked to, but that page had links to several others, including this one. I was struck by the fact that this is what about 75% of the Greater Toronto Area looks like from May to October every year. Except that we usually have those big barrel shaped pylons. And more trucks. And more workers. I swear, I don't think there's any other place in the world where a work crew going around filling small potholes with asphalt consists of twelve men in four trucks. Everywhere else I've seen it's two guys with a wheel barrow and a shovel, and they fill as many holes in an hour as we do up here. That's what happens when you let the socialists run your city for too long.

   Okayyyyy...moving on. Sorry about that little rant. It just kinda slipped out. Back to the topic at hand. This is what all of those electronic highway signs should say as far as I'm concerned:

   Seriously, if more people would just look at the road in front of them, we wouldn't need special, programmable, electronic, overhead signs to tell us that traffic is slowing down up ahead. Look up past the license plate of the car in front of you. See those red lights coming on up the road? Those are brake lights. It means people are slowing down. GET READY! That's all I'm saying.

Extra Credit: What was the worst traffic jam you've ever been in?

   I can't remember the worst traffic jam I've ever been in, but I sure can remember the stupidest. It was only a couple of weeks ago. I drove downtown on a Friday morning to do a little shopping at the St. Lawrence Market. I needed some rice, and some bagels. My wife had taken the train into work that morning, and was leaving early, so I hung around and picked her up at her office shortly after 1:00PM. A couple of short stops later, and we were ready to head back North up the Don Valley Parkway.
   Well! We had just turned off the Gardiner onto the Parkway (I know, I said we called 'em highways. We call this one a parkway. I don't know why. At rush hour, though, it's called the Don Valley Parking Lot ::grin::) when traffic came to almost a complete stop. We proceded to inch along at a stop and go pace all the way up to Lawrence Ave. It took us forty minutes for what should, even in moderately heavy trafiic, have been a fifteen minute ride. When we finally got to where the slow down ended, we realised that there had been a minor fender bender at some point. All of the cars were already pulled off onto the shoulder ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BLOODY ROAD!
   That's right, we had a ten mile long freaking traffic jam due to bloody rubberneckers. There was no obstruction of any kind on our side of the road.



Friday, June 9, 2006

Here's a memey (me-me?) thing

1 - Accent: I don't have an accent, you have an accent.

2 - Booze: Quality beverages in moderation, any variety will do. (Well, I'm not a big drinker of white wine).

3 - Chore I hate: Dusting. It's such a pain in the ass having to move the hundreds of knick-knacks around.

4 - Dogs/cats: Shadow/Lady. Also: fishies.

5 - Essential electronics: Computer, audio/video system, Death Star (in progress).

6 - Favorite perfume/cologne: I couldn't care less, but my wife likes it when I wear Hugo Boss.

7 - Gold/silver: Engagement ring and wedding ring. Used to wear a chain, but it broke.

8 - Hometown:
Maple, Ontario.

9 - Insomnia: is a way of life.

10 - Job title: Father.

11 - Kids: Well, duh!

12 - Living arrangements: In a house.

13 - Most admired trait: Couldn't say. You'd have to ask someone who admires me.

14 - Number of sexual partners: I don't understand the question.

15 - Overnight hospital stays: None. Well, maybe when I was a born, I guess.

16 - Phobia: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."--Franklin Delano Roosevelt

17 - Quote: ?

18 - Religion: is
unnecessary for me, but thanks anyway.

19 - Siblings: Sister.

20 - Time I usually wake up: Morning.

21 - Unusual talent: Heck, I'd settle for some usual talents.

22 - Vegetable I refuse to eat:
Brussels sprouts.

23 - Worst habit: I'd ask my wife for her opinion, but I haven't got all day to listen to the list.

24 - X-rays: Lotsa teefies. My wrist, once (turns out I'm not gay).

25 - Yummy foods I make: Most recently,
rainbow trout fillets with onion and bacon.

26 - Zodiac sign:
The Curmudgeon.

42 year old loser, or am I?


Thursday, June 8, 2006

Is it Thursday already?

   The thirty sixth edition of The Skeptics' Circle has been published at The Examining Room Of  Dr. Charles. For the best in skeptical blogging over the last two weeks covering topics like Avian flu, edible gold, crystal therapy, UFOs, ancient Bosnian pyramids, and much, much more, head on over to the good Doctor's place and check it out.

   Note also that I am accepting submissions for the next edition of
CarnivAOL. Get them to me before midnight Sunday for inclusion in the fifteenth edition, to be published on Tuesday. I can't wait to see them.

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Feeling good

   Several weeks ago I bought a pair of roller blades for myself. Matt has a pair, as does my wife, so I thought I'd join in as well. Now, Matt and the wife have some quality blades that ran us going on two hundred dollars a pair, but there was no way I was spending that much on a pair for me, considering the use to which they would likely be put (read: very occasional). So I bought a pair at Canadian Tire.
   They were regularly $79.99, but were on sale for half price. I figured I couldn't go wrong. The first time I put them on it was instantly apparent that one of the differences between an eighty dollar pair of skates and a two hundred dollar pair of skates is in the wheels. My wife got gliding slightly downhill on the father-in-law's driveway, and ended up twenty feet into the lawn at the end of it. I went farther up the hill, starting at a much steeper part, and didn't even reach the lawn.
   No, it wasn't because I fell down. It was because my wheels didn't run as freely as hers. Believe me, that's a good thing. Means I'm less likely to run into a situation where I need to bail at high speed to avoid hitting a bus, or something.
   But that isn't what this entry is about.

   At the same time as I bought the roller blades, I bought a set of pads to go along with them. Knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards, because, you know, safety first. especially for my big old ass. If I fall, I'm going down hard, take my word for it. I didn't buy a helmet, because I honestly don't think I'll ever be going fast enough to need one.
   Because I thought the set of pads I bought only had elbow and knee pads in it, I also bought a set of wrist guards separately. When I opened the set, I realised that it did, contrary to the way it was labeled, contain wrist guards. The extra set sat around for weeks, and I finally got around to taking them back to Canadian Tire yesterday.
   But that isn't what this entry is about.

   I arrived at the store at exactly the wrong time it seems. I walked through the doors behind two other people, and they both proceeded directly to the returns counter. Still, I expected a short wait. Humph!
   The man in front of me was returning a steam carpet cleaner, and inquiring whether he could pay the differenceto step up to a higher model. That took a few minutes to clear up, but really wasn't a problem.
   The woman in front of him, though. Grrrr. Pardon me while I take a few deep breaths and count to ten...



   OK. So here's the thing. According to the law, once a product has been delivered to the consumer, no retail outlet has any obligation to take it back, under any circumstances. Wrong colour? You should have thought about it more carefully before you bought it. Doesn't work? Well, there is a warranty from the manufacturer that takes care of defective products. Bought it twice by accident (blush)? Try engaging your brain before you take out your wallet next time, schmuck.
   Still, most retailers do have some kind of return policy. Canadian Tire, being one of the largest national chains in Canada, and wanting to be as consumer friendly as possible, has a very generous return policy. They will take almost anything back, subject to a few very specific terms and conditions. Terms and conditions, by the way, which are printed quite clearly on each and every receipt issued, and in giant letters on a six foot by six foot sign board behind the counter at the returns desk.
   That sign says, in part, "if you do not have your original purchase receipt, we will refund you the lowest advertised selling price for that product over the last 90 days in the form of an in-store credit only." Seems clear enough to me. It wasn't, it seems, clear enough to the woman in front of me.
   Why do some people seem to think that rules they expect everyone else in the world to follow don't apply to them? Regardless of the fact that she did not have her bill, this woman wanted a full refund to her credit card anyway. Regardless of the fact that the store's official policy was staring her in the face in six inch tall letters, she wanted special treatment. She wanted the rules not to apply to her. A store credit just wasn't going to work for her. "I'll never use it," she protested. "I never shop here."
   Um, helloooo? You bought the freaking thing here, didn't you? Finally, the young girl behind the counter offered to call a manager over to talk to the woman, and I was able to step up to the counter. I gave the frazzled girl a big smile, and announced, in a very loud voice,
"I would like to return this item. According to the clearly stated and prominently posted return policy, I understand that, because I was irresponsible and lost my bill, I will only be offered an in-store credit, and that's OK with me." I have no idea if the woman heard me or not, although it's hard to believe she could have missed it, being a mere six feet away. She made no sign of having heard, anyway. The girl behind the counter, on the other hand, burst into an ear to ear grin. I made her day. That made me feel good.
   That's what this entry is about.


There's no sight she'd rather see...

   Amanda's been people watching again. This time, she's doing it in the car:
There is always the classic singer-slash-song writer. Their windows are rolled up, but you can still hear the music from 2 car lengths away. Their hand is tapping off beat because they have no rhythm . . . this is your next American Idol. The second they think someone has spotted them, the get all serious and act nonchalantly as if it had never been going on, they give it 2 or 3 minutes and just go back to the same old Celine Dion impression as before.
   She's hit the old nail on the head there. That is so me. Except there ain't no Celine Dion playing in my car. Sure, she's Canadian, but Vegas can keep her. No really, it's no problem. Just put it on our tab.
   These days, if you pass me on the highway, belting out a tune, it'll be either
Bedouin Soundclash, or The Trews; two new Canadian bands that we'll keep, thank you very much. (Both of those websites have music samples available for your listening pleasure. On the Bedouin Soundclash site, click the "media" link. On The Trews site, click on the "myspace" link.)
   Other than the musical selection, however, Amanda has pretty much nailed the description. I can commonly be seen singing lustily...until I realise someone is watching me. Then I go straight to the nose picking. It's a lot less embarrassing. I'll be tapping off beat too, because I have no rhythm. I don't have any illusions about being the next
Canadian Idol, though. The music is up loud enough to be heard two cars away for a reason. I have to drown out my own voice. It's that bad.
   I used to sing in the shower, until my darling wife asked me to stop. I believe the words, "for the love of God" may have been employed, but I can't be sure as there was soap in my ears. It may have been something less polite.
   You know that look of complete disdain that you can only get from a cat? Yes, so do I.


Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Misha Barton has public tantrum

via. AOL Entertainment:
The 20-year-old starlet apparently had it out with her mother in the elevator of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in New York. Seemingly paying no mind to witnesses, Barton berated her mother for having difficulty with the elevator key. "You're so [expletive deleted] retarded! What idiot can't put a [expletive deleted] key in?" shrieked Barton. "What the f*ck, Mom, give it to me! You're so stupid it takes you 10 hours to do anything!"
   Now we see why the producers of The O.C. had her written out of the show. Would you want to deal with that crap on a daily basis? I mean, her mom doesn't have a choice. It's kind of a made your bed, sleep in it thing, but nobody else has to put up with that kind of bull.
   Misha, however doesn't seem to understand.
Next Barton reportedly complained about an upcoming interview, whining, "Do I have to do that interview later?" When Barton didn't hear the answer she wanted, she was apparently miffed, "I hate this [expletive deleted] job."
   You hate your effing job, Misha? Poor baby. Let me give you some advice. You could always get a different job. There are plenty of jobs out there you are qualified to do. You could be the person at McDonalds who puts out the "Caution: wet floor" sign. No, not the person who uses the mop, that may be a bit of a stretch for you, but you could, you know, unfold and stand up the sign.
   Or, maybe, you could join one of those crews that drive along the bus routes and stop at every shelter to squeegee the glass and sweep the concrete floor clean. I hear they're hiring. In fact, I hear there's an opening in the Motel6 laundry. Sure, there's some training involved, and rubber gloves, but you might be qualified.
   So quit your effing job, Misha. Nobody should have to put up with all those demanding interviewers, and photographers, and make-up artists, and publicists. It's inhumane, I tell you. Besides, I hear they're raising minimum wage again.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Not wolf

   The sky is falling! Wait, that was last week.

   Don't look for me  tomorrow, I'll be hiding out in my nucular fallout shelter. Why? Well, it's 6/6/06 tomorrow, doncha know. The
date of the beast, end of the world, or some such. I have actually read news reports of pregnant women who were worried about giving birth tomorrow asking for inductions or scheduled caesarian sections to avoid it.
   Of course, it's only 6/6/6 if you ignore the first three numerals of the year. If you are going to do that, then why didn't the world end a decade ago, on 6/6/(199)6, or the decade before that in 1986? Perhaps we can only ignore the first two numbers, because they are commonly dropped in short form notaion of the year. And then, the third number would have to be a zero. But the world was still here the morning of June 7, 1906, so that can't be it either.
   In fact, if you are going to refer to a date as having some connection to the "number of the beast," why not the real 6/6/6: June sixth, of the year six? Clearly, the world did not end on that day, either, although there is significant disagreement about when exactly that date occurred. The
Gregorian calendar, which we currently use to measure the year, wasn't set until 1542. Prior to that, the passsage of days, weeks, months and years was marked by the Julian Calendar, according to which, tomorrow will be May 24th. And, according to the Julian calendar, what we would mark as 6/6/6, was actually June 8, year 6. "Missed it by that much." Of course, that calculation is based on the revision of the Julian calendar made in the year 8 (C.E., A.D., whatever you want to call it). It had actually been adjusted several times since its inception in 46 B.C.

edited to add: Oh, yeah, let's not forget that the Book of Revelations wasn't even written until almost 90 years after June 6, year 6. There's a paradox for you. If the world had actually ended on 6/6/6, it would have ended almost a century before the prophecy predicting the cataclysm was written. Try not to think about that too much, OK?

   There are many other calendars we could look at as well. According to the
Hebrew calendar, tomorrow will be the twenty second day of Sivan (which is the ninth month), 3766. Well, there are a couple of sixes in there. In the Islamic calendar, tomorrow will be 9 Jumada al-awwal (fifth month), 1427. Isn't even a single six in there, not that any Muslims would be that concerned if there were.
   In the
Persian calendar, it will be 16 Khordad (third month), 1385, and according to the Mayan long count calendar, tomorrow will be Note that the Mayan calendar does allow for a periodic destruction (and recreation) of the world, but that isn't scheduled to happen for another 2500 years, or so. It won't be June sixth then either.

   My purpose here is to point out that June 6, 2006 is an arbitrary date in a numbering system created by man that has been fiddled and fudged with over and over again across the course of centuries. Believing there is any significance to a date on the calendar is like believing you can foretell the future from patterns in the left over leaves on the bottom of a used cup of tea.
   Maybe that was a bad example.


Thursday, June 1, 2006

The top 100 albums OF ALL TIME!!!!1

   I've seen a few comments around the blogosphere about this list of the "Top 100 Albums Of All Time," compiled by British music magazine NME. According to the list, the top ten albums OF ALL TIME are:
1. Definitely Maybe, Oasis
2. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, The Beatles
3. Revolver, The Beatles
4. OK Computer, Radiohead
5. (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis
6. Nevermind, Nirvana
7. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
8. Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd
9. The Queen Is Dead, Smiths
10. The Bends, Radiohead

   I understand that all these lists are open to discussion, and that different people can have differing opinions and differing tastes in music, but come on! The top ten albums OF ALL TIME include two Radiohead albums, two Oasis albums, and... a Smiths album? The Smiths? I can see them on a list of the top 100 worst albums of all time. And The Stone Roses? OK, so I'm getting on a bit in years, but I've never even heard of them. And they are one of the top ten albums OF ALL TIME? Sorry, I just don't buy it.
   Upon a closer look at the list, I find there are sixteen albums on it by artists I have never even heard of before. So I'm not necessarily studied on all the newest music, but I'll wager I'm more familiar with it than 95% of the parents of my son's schoolmates. I don't own 3000 pop music albums, but I do own 600; considerably more than the average person. And they're not claiming that the list is the top 100 alternative pop albums of all time. No such qualifications or restrictions are mentioned. They blatantly announce that these are the top 100 albums OF ALL TIME.
   I do own 25 of the albums on the list, including the Oasis album listed at number five, and the Radiohead album at number four. But they, and several other of the twenty five are albums I would place much lower on the list, or not on it at all. Another seventeen albums of the 100 are albums that, were you to offer to buy them for me, I would politely decline. The Smiths? Joy Division? Human League? ABC? I recognised these bands as crapback in the eighties when they were charting. All of them currently reside in the 'where are they now file.' Go ask someone in your local record store when they last sold an album by Joy Division or Human League. It's likely they've never heard of those bands, and don't have a single copy of one of their albums in the store. Now ask them about Machine Head, by Deep Purple. Not only will they have a copy in stock, they've probably sold one within the last month. And that album is not even represented on this list.
   Other albums that aren't on this list, and I think should be:
Blind Faith
Blind Melon
Boston's first album
Led Zeppelin's first album
The Cars' first album
Jethro Tull's Aqualung
King Crimson's In The Court Of The Crimson King

   What are your thoughts on the matter?