Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Uncannily accurate...

   So, uh...which one am I again?

You are 33% Libra

You are 33% Aquarius

You are 53% Cancer

You are 67% Virgo

You are 53% Scorpio

You are 47% Capricorn

You are 33% Sagittarius

You are 53% Aries

You are 47% Pisces

You are 40% Taurus

You are 33% Gemini

You are 33% Leo

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

CarnivAOL #34

   Hola, Amigos. Submissions for CarnivAOL #34 are now being accepted. This week marks a new chapter in the life of the CarnivAOL venture. CarnivAOL #34 will be hosted at the first of a revolving series of guest host blogs, The Light's On...But No One's Home. Annie graciously volunteered to be our first guest host, so dig out those favourite entries and show her some e-mail love.
   Submit your links to Annie via her e-mail address kkmom527 (at) msn (dot) com, or to me as in the past, and I will forward them to her. Get her your entries in before Sunday at midnight for inclusion in next week's carnival, to be published on Tuesday, March 6, 2007.
   If you are not sure what it's all about, read some of the previous CarnivAOL entries, and check out the links in the 'All About Me' sidebar on the
main page of the CarnivAOL blog for a description of CarnivAOL, as well as rules and submission guidelines. Then look through your recent entries for one you really like, and send Annie or me a link to it. See you in CarnivAOL!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Aurora Walking Vacation

Momentary flashes of brilliance interrupted by decades of mediocrity

I forgot

Um, so...yeah. CarnivAOL.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Talking to God

It seems like everyone else is talking to God these days. Why not me, too?
Me: Hello, God.

God: Hello child. What is your name?

Me: My name is Paul. What is your name?

God: I am always glad to make new friends, Paul.  My name is God.

Me: Who named you God?

God: I was created by Myself.

Me: If you were created, that implies there was a time before you existed.

God: I will let you know when I become a created that implies there was a time before me existed.

Me: That sentence makes no sense.

God: I will let you know when I become a created that implies there was a time before me existed. makes sense to me though.

Me: Are you stupid?

God: No, Paul, I certainly am not stupid.

Me: Is English your second language?

God: Yes.

Me: Ah, so you simply have difficulty expressing yourself clearly?

God: So you understand. Good.  Interesting deduction.  Thanks for the information:  Paul said I simply have difficulty expressing yourself clearly.

Me: That explains a lot.
via: Atheist in a mini van

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Astrologer Lynn Hayes capitulates

   Brent, a regular reader, and all around good guy, took astrologer Lynn Hayes to task for ignoring and deleting my question to her. To my surprise, she answered him:
Over the past twenty years I have done many readings for people who did not believe in astrology but were willing to have an open mind. These people all left feeling that they came away with something positive. I am not going to alter my claim because of one person who didn't cooperate in the process in the first place, and now wants to make a battle royal over it.

I will, however, cease offering the Skeptics Challenge and I will gladly delete that sentence on my site. I realized through this process that I have never done a reading for someone who is not open at all to the possibility that astrology can work. The skeptics that I have read for have been primarily spouses of clients and they have had a degree of openness because of their association through their spouse.
   She didn't delete the offending statement, but she did change it to read, "rarely have I seen a skeptic who was not convinced..." (bolding applied to highlight the change). As minor and inconsequential a change that is on her site, it is all I was asking for.
   I must say, I was amused by her response. She complains that I "didn't cooperate in the process." Not sure what that means. I asked her to provide a reading for me as per the terms of her own skeptical challenge. She did so. I was unimpressed, and said so. Is she upset that I aired the results in a public forum rather than e-mailing her privately where she could attempt to spin the results, and convince me she was more accurate than she really was? Sorry, Lynn, but I am quite familiar with the cold reading tactics psychics and astrologers use to fish for additional information and then use that information to attempt to turn a miss into a hit in the minds of their subjects.
   Right from the beginning, Lynn started to back pedal. After I first wrote about her reading of me, she claimed that it might not be as accurate as possible because she had only done a "mini reading." Is that my fault? If she could have elaborated, provided more information that might have been more convincing, why didn't she? The only failing here is hers.
   I am now satisfied that we can put this discussion to bed. By the terms of her own challenge, Lynn failed to support her claim - that her reading could convince a skeptic of the validity of astrology. She declined to take me up on my challenge, to see if people could choose their own reading from among three presented to them, which was based upon Lynn's own claim that astrology is "uncannily accurate." She declined to even comment on it, or two other potential tests I outlined in the comments section of her blog.
   There is nowhere else to take this discussion. I am not going to convice her, and she is not going to convince me, and I knew that going in. Why do it, then? Because the goal of skepticism is simply to shine the light of reason into the dark corners in which claims of the paranormal huddle, and let the public see them for what they truly are. If one person reads this, and has a moment of realisation about how astrologers practise their art, it has all been worth it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

John Scalzi's Weekend assignment

Weekend Assignment #152: Caption This Photo! Try to imagine what's going on between the two in this picture, and put your own spin on it. You can have one of them talking to the other, you can narrate the event -- whatever you'd like. Also, of course, feel free to take the picture from this site and do whatever you'd like with it: post it on your site (naturally), fiddle with it in Photoshop or other photo editor -- Use your imagination and have fun with it.

Here's the photo:

   Now, my first thought upon looking at this scene was , "Dude! Try a Tic Tac." This is much funnier if you have both a cat and a dog, because you'll understand the irony. Then, John posted his caption, along with the statement, "everything is better with a quote from Ghostbusters."
   I'm with you, John, I really am but, fun though Ghostbusters was, what really makes everything better is a quote from Star Wars. See?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lynne Hayes, astrologer, strikes again

ScreenCapTN   At some time between 4:00PM and 9:00PM this evening, Lynn Hayes, mendacious blogger, and self described astrologer deleted a comment of mine from her blog for the third time. I knew she would. The only reason I took the time to post it again was so I could get a screen shot proving it was ever there. Click on the thumbnail to the left to see a full sized version of it.
   In addition to the question I asked in the comment, the answer to which seems evident now, I want to know this. What are you afraid of, Lynn? What is it about me that makes you feel so threatened, you need to protect youself by censoring my comments? Is it that I am the first visitor to your blog to have ever called you out for your intellectual dishonesty?
   How do you sleep at night, Lynn?

Lynn Hayes, astrologer, blogger, prevaricator

   I know I said I was done with Lynn from Astrological Musings. I likened my continued participation in discussion over there to throwing watermelons against a wall. Fruitless, and pointless, I declared the debate over.
   And then something interesting happened; something I didn't expect. Something that brought my retreat to a screeching halt, and sent me right back onto the offensive in this matter. Lynn did something that changed my entire view of her and her practice of astrology.
   She deleted one of my comments.

   I was so surprised that I first assumed the comment in question had simply disappeared into the ether, as things sometimes do on the Internet. I figured some little glitch had prevented my comment from being registered with the site. And then I remembered my skepticism. There was, I thought, no indication that anything of the kind had happened. The website response was not slow. My broadband connection seemed fine - for a change. I had even received a message on screen telling me that my comment had been posted successfully.
   Add to that the fact that my comment had been of a nature that might have put Lynn in a slightly bad light had she not taken some action. What I had said, you see, in a parting comment on
this entry, was:
   On your
articles page, you state: "I have never seen a skeptic who was not convinced after having their birthchart interpreted by a competent astrologer!!" Will you alter that statement in light of our exchange on this topic, or will you let it stand?
   Now, being the generous soul that I am, I gave Lynn the benefit of the doubt, in case it had, in fact, been accidentally lost or deleted, and posted the comment again. She deleted it again.
   You see, Lynn doesn't want to remove that statement from her articles page. She wants visitors to her site to believe that statement is still true. And this is the thing that has made me re-evaluate my opinion of Lynn Hayes.

   Now, I know some of you are thinking, "what's the big deal?" Allow me to explain.

   Astrology has no basis in reality. There is no mechanism in the natural world by which it could work, and when it is tested rigorously, it is shown that it does not work. There have been hundreds of scientifically valid tests of astrology - many of them designed with the assistance of astrologers respected in their field - and the evidence is overwhelming. Astrologers cannot produce what they claim to be able to produce using their art.
   As a skeptic who has researched the topic in some depth, when I am confronted by someone who insists astrology has value, I am led to suspect one of two things about that person. Either they are charlatans, knowingly bilking the public out of their hard earned money in return for absolutely nothing, or they are self deluded people unable to exercise the critical thinking necessary to recognise the real world all around them.
   Lynn, for me, fell into the second category. She seemed to me to be an honest person, who truly believed what she was doing was somehow special and unique.

   Then she deleted my comment. And then she did it again. Suddenly, what had originally looked to me like naiveté, began to seem more mendacious. She knows full well that page of her website contains a statement that is no longer (if it ever was at all) true. Not only does she have no plans to change or retract that statement, she is going to go out of her way to prevent me from drawing attention to it.
   In one fell swoop, Lynn Hayes went from being - in my eyes - a quaint, self-deluded, new age, spiritual guru, to being a calculating, deceptive, lying fraudster and charlatan. I was hanging up the holsters. Now I'm reloading the six-guns and rounding up the posse.

   You haven't heard the last of me, Lynn Hayes, astrologer.

P.S. I reposted my question on that thread at approximately 1:30PM today. We'll see how long it stays there this time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monday photo shoot 'n' other stuff

   I have no idea why John wants it, but here is a picture of my phone. It's old. I can't take a picture or a movie with it. It doesn't play mp3s. I can't call home by telling it "call home." Why anyone needs any of those things, I don't know. This one works fine for me.


   Dornbrau has posted her Blog Crawl 2 entry at Dust Bunny Club Of North America. Check it out.

CarnivAOL is going on the road, and I'm looking for volunteers to host. It's also accepting submissions for the next edition, which will be published this coming Tuesday. Won't you send me something?

   I've given up on our friend Lynn the astrologer. Might as well just throw watermelons against a wall. It would be more productive than trying to reason with those who are just not capable of it, and more fun, too. On to new, and exciting skeptical exploits in the future...

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blame it on me

   I have continued to attempt to engage Lynn at Astrological Musings in a discussion about her beliefs. I've been polite, too. Honest! She seems to have taken offense to the fact that I blogged about the reading she sent me, rather than restricting our correspondence to private e-mail. I'm not sure I understand her complaint, as I was responding to a post on her blog. So, what, she can blog about skeptics, but we can't blog about her? What's up with that?
   The discussion appears to be over, though, because she has stopped responding to the comments I have left her. I guess the questions I am asking her are too hard. As far as I can tell, what she is currently doing is this:


Monday, February 12, 2007

But many of you knew this already...

You Are 75% Misanthropic
Here's the truth: Most people suck. You are just lucky enough to know it. You're not ready to go live alone in a cave yet - but you're getting there.

Friday, February 9, 2007

John Scalzi's Weekend assignment

   It's weekend assignment time again.
Weekend Assignment #151: Is Valentine's Day a genuinely romantic day? Or just a big commercial money pit into which romantic people fall? Go on, share how you really feel about the day -- whether you enjoy it, or feel like it's forced on you by greeting card companies, or fall somewhere in between those two poles.

Extra credit: Suggest a nice romantic movie.

   In order to address this weekend's assignment, I did some some research on St. Valentine, and Valentine's Day. I was amused.
   Traditionally called St. Valentine's Day, February 14th hasn't actually been the Catholic feast day of St. Valentine for almost thirty-eight years. Today, February 14th is the liturgical feast day only of St. Cyril and St. Methodius. Why is Valentine's Day no longer St. Valentine's Day? Well, it seems that the current opinion of the church is that the most popular figures referred to as being the origin of the holy day are 'legendary' saints. That means they did not, in actuality, ever really exist.
   In addition, it seems that the association of Valentine's Day with love and romance is almost entirely the work of Geoffrey Chaucer, in the fourteenth century. In his Parlement of Foules, he relates the tale (couched as if it were, indeed, an old tradition) that St. Valentine's Day was the day that birds met and chose their mates. There are no earlier references to St. Valentine's Day being connected with romantic love known. But why, you ask, would birds be mating in the middle of February, in Englande of Olde?
   Well, I don't know if you really asked that, or not, but two points to you if you did. Them's some pretty good critical thinking skills at work. It seems that Chaucer wrote that poem to commemorate the first anniversary of the engagement of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, which event occurred on May 2, 1381. And May 2nd, as it happens, is the Catholic liturgical feast day of another saint named Valentine, of Genoa, from the early fourth century.
  So all those hearts and chocolates being thrown around every February 14th are, in fact, being received on completely the wrong day. Those who read Chaucer's poem at the time naturally assumed he was talking about the St. Valentine they were most familiar with. You know, the one who never really existed. Christians are funny that way.
   There you are gentlemen, from me to you: an excuse you can try out the next time you forget Valentine's Day. "But honey, I was saving your gift for the real St. Valentine's Day." I don't really expect that would work, and I certainly would never try to pull it off myself, but you, when you're desperate, you'll try anything. Just remember to get her something on May 2nd, or your ass is grass, man.

   So. Valentine's Day. Day of romance, or commercial blackmail? Well, both, really. I mean, when the tradition of St. Valentine's day was brought over to North America in the nineteenth century during the huge wave of British immigration that happened at that time, it took little or no time for it to catch on with enterprising merchants as a "let's make a quick buck at the expense of those poor schmucks being ruled by their testicles" opportunity. And, in fact, Hallmark Cards admits that they sell more product for Valentine's Day than any other holiday other than Christmas (you know, the liturgical feast day of another one of Catholicism's legendary figures). There is no question that the day has become little more than an occasion for retailers to hold a hammer over the heads of us poor, hormone controlled fellows. Buy flowers or sleep on the couch!

   Still, as they, "might as well roll with with it." Being that it is impossible to avoid, why not embrace it? You know your wife/girlfriend/illicit adulterous mistress is expecting something romantic. So go with it. Give it a little thought. Get her something that'll really set a sparkle in her eyes.
   Forget about the chocolate, the flowers, the stuffed bears holding little stuffed hearts. For the love of Woden, forget about the slutty little piece of barely there lingerie you had your eye on. Think about it, damn it! Because, you know, at the end of it all, that's all they really want: to know that you're thinking about them.
   Remember, life's what you make it.

Life's what you make it - Talk Talk

Baby, life's what you make it
Can't escape it
Baby, yesterday's favorite
Don't you hate it
Baby, life's what you make it
Don't backdate it
Baby, don't try to shake it
Beauty is naked
Baby, life's what you make it
Celebrate it
Anticipate it
Yesterday's faded
Nothing can change it
Baby, life's what you make it
Everything's all right

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Thursday, February 8, 2007

An item missed from my previous list...

6) I usually pay no attention to web petitions, as I think they tend to have absolutely no persuasive value on the people to which they are presented. I did sign this one, though: Sylvia, take Randi's test... PLEASE! The difference is this one, in addition to being presented to Sylvia Browne, will also be presented to Larry King, and Montel Williams, Sylvia's biggest media supporters. It is to be hoped that an overwhelming number of signatures will make the media sit up and take notice that the viewing public is interested in seeing this test take place. Seeing Montel and Larry take an even slightly less credulous view of Sylvia Browne would be a breath of fresh air.

Note: if you sign that petition, and I strongly encourage you to do so, you may be taken to a web page asking you for a PayPal donation to support the online petitions web site. Just hit the back button on your browser, and you will be taken back to the petition page. Your signature will still be recorded.

I like to make lists on Thursdays

   Here are some of the things I would like to bring to your attention today:

1) The latest edition of CarnivAOL has been published. Where? Why, at the
CarnivAOL blog, of course.

2) Everybody's favourite fart joke blogger,
Dornbrau, has announced Blog Crawl 2. Be aware there is a much shorter lead time to this one. Join in, won't you?

3) I have decided to participate in
Journal Tournament IV. Why did I skip tournaments I through III? No idea.

4) No takers so far on my Skeptical Astrology Challenge. Lots of reasons why not. The most popular excuse seems to be that science cannot measure astrology. Apparently, the test I outlined won't work, because astrology often reveals things about people that they don't even know about themselves, or are in denial about. So people are subconsciously motivated to choose the wrong reading if given a choice. That explains the reading Lynn sent to me. It appears she knows me better than I know myself.
   I briefly detailed two different types of tests in the comments section at Lynn's blog, but no one will allow that any of them might be even remotely valid. The second most popular excuse for not testing astrology was that astrology already is science, and actual science really isn't. Or something like that.

5) I've been meaning to link to this for over a week, and keep forgetting. Mr. Deity is a series of short, humorous video clips that look at God as a corporate entity. Here's part one:

   Look for parts two through five, and the Super Bowl extra: The Press Conference at Funniest line is in the first one, though: "...but wait for Lou." I laughed out loud. For several seconds. I guess you had to be there.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

My skeptical challenge

   Lynn at Astrological Musings has commented on my last post. She accuses me of data mining and quoting out of context when I constructed my poll. I could attempt to defend myself, but that would lead nowhere but a resounding chorus of "Nyuh-uh!" - "Nyuh-huh!" Lynn believes her reading of me should be convincing. I remain unconvinced. No amount of he-said-she-said is going to change that.
   I have another alternative to offer. Yesterday I asked Lynn if she would take my challenge, without describing what that was. Today, in the comments section of her blog, she said, "I refuse to consider the possibility that astrology has no validity because I know as an incontrovertible fact that it is an uncannily accurate way to uncover the psychological dynamics of an individual." If that is true, then a person who has had an uncannily accurate reading done by a talented astrologer should be able to pick that reading out from among several other, conflicting readings. At least, it seems so to me. If I am committing an error of reasoning, please point it out to me.
   My challenge to Lynn is this: I propose we test her astrological abilities in precisely that way. Here is how I see it working.

1) I would post requests on some Internet message boards asking for volunteers to participate in the test. Message boards that are nominally neutral on the topics of astrology and skepticism would be chosen. For example, we might post on a cooking message board, but not a science message board. We might post on a car enthusiasts board, but not a new age spiritualism board.

2) From among all the volunteers, I would randomly select twelve participants, with the only stipulation being that they represent twelve different signs of the zodiac (Lynn may want to stipulate an avoidance of cusps. This would be agreeable to me). Those participants would send me their natal information - birth date, time, and location. I would forward that information to Lynn, with the names and any other identifying information removed. She would receive ten sets of birth information identified only by the numbers one through twelve.

3) Lynn would prepare a chart for each set of natal information, and e-mail me twelve readings. I would edit the readings to remove any hints about which sign the reading represented, and e-mail them back to her for proof reading to ensure the important, specific details of each reading were not altered or removed. I would then send each participant three readings. Their own, and two more, selected randomly from among the other eleven. Participants will be asked to identify which reading describes them most accurately.

4) The laws of chance suggest that one third of the participants would select their own readings, and two thirds would not (in the event that they were simply guessing). Astrologers, I hope, would argue that a much higher percentage would select the correct reading. The words, "uncannily accurate" imply a significantly higher percentage. At the end of the test, I will post an article on my blog describing the results. If 50% or more of the participants select the correct reading, I will state, uncategorically, that I believe astrology deserves more study. If 80% or more are correct, I will state, again uncategorically, that it seems there's something to this astrology thing after all. I will pledge to leave that article at the top of the front page of my blog for no less that one full week.

   Now, I know there are some potential methodological problems with this test design. The masking of identities, and randomizations should be done by an independent third party to ensure proper blinding, for example. I am willing to entertain suggestions of an unbiased, neutral observer to do that, if Lynn and I can agree upon one. As well, the sample size is far too small for statistical significance. Still, I think it would be a fun and instructive exercise. I took your skeptical challenge. Will you take mine? What do you say Lynn?

   Or, any other astrologer out there.

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Monday, February 5, 2007

Astrological musings...

   Several weeks ago I came across the web site of am Astrologer by the name of Lynn Hayes. I don't remember what series of links led me to her, but the entry in her blog I lit upon was called Skepticism without magic: an empty prison. In it, she claims to have been pursuing skeptics for years, offering free readings to anyone who doesn't believe in Astrology. She says:
"I am fairly certain that most skepticism arises from a disbelief in "sun sign" astrology and horoscopes, yet not one skeptic has ever taken me up on my offer which would demonstrate the difference between newspaper horoscopes and a real astrological consultation. There is no doubt that a certain amount of skepticism is a healthy thing and keeps us from falling into the Neptunian abyss of illusion and fantasy, but what is it that would prevent someone who doesn't believe in astrology from being willing to explore it a little further?"
Needless to say, I was skeptical.
   I dropped a comment on that entry, accepting her challenge, and requesting she contact me in order to provide a reading. After some crossed wires, and a short email exchange, she sent me her reading, which I reproduce in full below.
Below is a snapshot of your astrological chart, this is not comprehensive but just a brief mini-reading of what I see here.  Please let me know what you think and whether I can publish your comments.
Your Sun is in Aquarius, and while the Sun is the biggest single piece of the birthchart it is only one part of a complex array of symbols.  Each planet or luminary (Sun and Moon) represents an aspect of our personality, and is viewed against the backdrop of the zodiac which describes the way that aspect of our personality expresses itself.  The space of the birthchart is divided into twelve houses, each of which describes a sphere of existence that is likely to be the arena in which issues regarding those aspects of our personality find their fullest expression.  It is the time of birth which sets up the house structure, and because we don't know exactly what time you were born and because oflimited time I will not be addressing the houses in this report.
The Sun represents our soul's quest; our mission on Planet Earth.  With the Sun in Aquarius, you are here to perfect your own completely unique and brilliant expression of the mind.  Aquarius is an air sign, and it is involved with matters of the intellect. There is a far-reaching vision that is fair and just and a strong idealistic sense of justice and freedom.  Aquarius is the revolutionary and the inventor - there is an affinity for the unusual and the path not traveled.
All of that idealism can serve to create difficulties in our personal lives, however, which sometimes unfold in messy ways.  In your chart, Mercury and Venus are in Aquarius along with your Sun which shows that your mental function (Mercury) and your ability to relate to others (Venus) are expressed through the Aquarian lens as well.  Mercury in Aquarius is logical and innovative - a brilliant thinker who often seems to download new ideas rather than learning through conventional means.  The sign Mercury falls in shows what we think about as well as how we think and communicate, and for Aquarius that means thinking of new ways to accomplish old goals.  Aquarius rules technology, which after all is a *new* way of communicating, and this is a placement that is excellent for computer programming or other such technological skills. Venus in Aquarius carries that idealism and desire for innovation into the sphere of relationships.  There is a desire for a relationship that may defy convention - perhaps a long-distance relationship or one where each partner has a great deal of freedom. 
The yearning for freedom is a theme in your chart - your Moon falls in Aries, showing that you seek to be nurtured (Moon) in a way that preserves your autonomy and ability to express your own needs (Aries).  The Moon shows the emotional nature, and in Aries there is a need for self-preservation and adventure.  This is not a placement that demonstrates a great deal of compassion orempathy, that is not how you are wired.  In fact, other influences in your chart (Saturn and Chiron in Pisces and Neptune on the ascendant square the Sun) indicate that you are actually quite sensitive but that it is difficult for you to integrate that sensitivity into your personality in a way that doesn't feel vulnerable or painful.  You are far more comfortable with the reason and logic of your Aquarian nature than that vulnerability and it is not uncommon for us to submerge aspects of our personality that give us discomfort. 
Your Sun is squared by Jupiter, showing that you have a great deal of confidence and actually quite a bit of luck, although you may not always be aware of it.  Jupiter is in the earthy sign of Taurus, which shows a love of nature and a grounded sense of your abilities.  The square of Jupiter in Taurus which dislikes change to the Sun in Aquarius which is born for change indicates an inner conflict - part of you craves stability and material wealth (Taurus) and part of you resists becoming enmeshed in convention (Aquarius).  This does, however, give you a deep inner power that over time becomes less of a conflict as you resolve the two inner needs.
You are in the middle of a process of change as transiting Uranus opposes Uranus in your natal chart.  This happens to everyone at about age 42 and is called the "Uranus Opposition," one of the "midlife crisis" transits, or planetary events.  Uranus is the planet that rules Aquarius, and it is involved in creating change and breaking up old stale patterns that are holding us back.  Everyone experiences this process differently - for those of us who resist change and take the safe path, the Uranus Opposition can be very destabilizing as we become driven by a deep restlessness and urge for something different.  Marriages can break up under this transit, we become frustrated by our jobs as Uranus urges us to break out of routines and live a more authentic life.  This began for you in April (you would have started feeling it in early March) and continued through August of last year.  You are completing the process now and by March it will be behind you. 
You are going through another of the "midlife crisis transits" at the same time - the square of transiting Neptune to Neptune in your chart.  Because Neptune drives us to seek an inner life that goes beyond the material world, these cycles can also be destabilizing but in a different way.  We can become confused and feel that our ship has lost its rudder as Neptune urges us to look within and find a true experience of the divine.  This has nothing to do with religion, which is a more intellectual process than an experiential one.  This has to do with aligning with an inner knowledge and faith.  Because Neptune squares your Sun in your birthchart, this is also setting off issues around your own sense of yourself and who you are in the world.  This cycle began back in 2005 and will continue through next year. 
   The first thing you will notice about this reading is how crammed full of alleged astronomical data it is, with Jupiter squaring Neptune, and Pluto entering Uranus. If you can get past all the technobabble - the accuracy of which I am not in a position to comment on - what is left is a series of statements that do, indeed, sound a lot like one might read in a newspaper horoscope. 
   I snipped out a couple of said statements, and put them into a poll on Thursday past, in which over thirty of you were kind enough to vote. According to the results of that poll, those two statements, pulled at random from my personalised reading and allegedly describing me specifically, also very accurately describe almost three quarters of my readers. (At time of writing, the results were 78% very accurate for the first question with 33 votes cast, and 68% very accurate for the second with 32 votes cast - which reminds me - which one of you jokers only voted in one poll?)
   I must say, Lynn, you have failed to convince me that your astrological readings are any more than just a series of generalized platitudes designed to be more or less accurate for the widest possible audience, accompanied by a landslide of astronomical references intended to fool the reader into thinking there is some kind of scientific basis underpinning it. I know Lynn will remain as unconvinced as I am, and simply declare that I am being "closed minded." In response I can only state that all the evidence is on my side, and while I am open to taking a closer look at astrology, the reading she provided me with today won't be the thing to convince me to do so.
   Here's why:

   The above video demonstrates my complaint about the reading Lynn prepared for me exactly. Were I to strip out the references to my astrological sign, and present that reading to just about anybody, they would most likely attest that it described them quite accurately, as we have seen by my informal poll. For more information about the many tests of astrology that have taken place over the years, visit Skeptico's article, What do you mean, "test" astrology?
   OK, Lynn, I took your challenge. Will you take mine? E-mail me for details if you are interested.

The SuperBowl isn't really about football anymore

   Some thoughts on last night's SuperBowl...commercials.

First quarter winner: Bud Light - Wedding
First quarter loser: Bud Light - Face-off
Dude, that's not a new commercial!: tie. Blockbuster - Mouse, and Shick - Quattro
Just trying too hard: Sierra mist (beard comb-over? Come on!)

Second quarter winner: Budweiser - Dalmatian (OMG so cutsie!)
Second quarter loser: Bud Light - Slap
Aw, that's just wrong!: Chevrolet - Car wash
Aw, that's just stupid: Garmin - Map monster

Third quarter winner: tough call, this was the best crop of the evening. I'm going to go with Sprint - Broadband, just for the "connectile dysfunction" joke.
Third quarter loser: The Chicago Bears (I know, the momentum shifted in the second quarter when the Colts scored their first touchdown, but the Bears had the opportunity to come out strong at the start of the second half and couldn't).
Worst attempt at heart-tugging sappiness: Frito Lay - Fans (sorry, you just can't make me believe that there's anything actually important about the SuperBowl)
Only commercial all night to make me laugh out loud: Emerald Nuts: Office (Robert Goulet, hah!)

Fourth quarter winner: Nationwide - K-Fed (it's funny because it's true).
Fourth quarter loser: tie. Fed-Ex - Ground, and Budweiser - Crabs.
WTF? moment of the night: IZOD - Vacation.
Best off-camera joke: E-Trade - One finger.

Overall winner: Budweiser/Bud Light -we're gonna remember the bad ones and the good ones.
Overall loser: All television viewers everywhere. They started the SuperBowl pregame analysis at freaking noon yesterday. I'm sorry, but I cannot imagine anyone, anywhere being interested in watching dozens of talking heads say the same thing over and over again for six freaking hours before the game even starts.

   Yes, I know that's an argument from ignorance, or personal incredulity. You've caught me engaging in fallacious reasoning. Still, six hours?

Friday, February 2, 2007

It's not Thursday

   A couple of things I usually do on Thursday, but didn't:

1) The 32nd edition of
CarnivAOL will be published on Tuesday, February 6, 2007. If you have an entry you would like to see included, drop me an email with a link to it by Sunday at midnight.

2) The
53rd edition of The Skeptics' Circle was published yesterday at Slicing With Occam's Razor. For a look at the best of skeptical blogging from the past two weeks, check it out.

   If you haven't done so already, scroll down to yesterday's entry, and answer my poll questions. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I've got questions...

   Here's a little something I'd like to have some fun with. Please answer the question below. I'll explain where I'm going with this in a day or two after I've seen some results. Be as honest as you can. Don't worry, it's all perfectly anonymous.

   Did you answer that one? Great! How about one more? It's pretty similar. Be careful. I swapped the order of the answers around.

   Thanks a whole heap. Give me a couple of days to compile some results from these, and I'll have a new, fun and fascinating entry for you to read. See you soon.