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Flat Earth Society Wants YOU!
October 29th, 2006 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: none ]

So about two weeks ago, my roomate sent me this link to the Flat Earth Society. For those of you who don’t know, this society has been around since the 19th century in various forms and (obviously) believe that the earth is flat. You can imagine that their stance got rather complicated when pictures like this started showing up. The society started claiming that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. This, I think, is an example of where Occam’s Razor breaks down. I mean, which story would you be more inclined to believe?

  1. A large government entity spent billions of dollars to put a man in space and go traipsing about on the moon because it was hard.
  2. A large government entity spent billions of dollars pretending to put a man in space and go traipsing about on the moon to strike fear into the Communist infidels.

If I were to follow Occam’s Razor, I think option 2 seems the safest bet. Then again, I have been known to be cynical.

What’s your Tension Quotient?
October 25th, 2006 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: none ]

Personally, I’m not usually one to go for these “Check Your IQ” or “What type of Personality Test” type online tests as I find them over-simplified and they don’t explain your score well enough (if at all). However, I found a test on reddit today called the “Philosophical Health Check” (sub-titled “Check your Tension Quotient”) which I really think is worth the effort. In this test, they ask you a bunch of philosophical questions and then give you value indicating how contradictory your beliefs are. The important bit is not so much the value but that they actually explain why your beliefs contradict. You can then obviously choose to agree or disagree with what they say.

Sadly, my tension quotient was 33%, worse then the average. Guess I have some reconciling to do.

P.S. The lower the percentage, the better.

Chiropractors = Nonsense
October 19th, 2006 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: 1 ]

Okay. I’m going to start off this entry by relating a story. About 4 years ago, I was having severe back pain. It was probably from acting the fool on stage when I was still in a band. Anyways, so my mom ships me off to a chiropractor. I think I went twice and the pain didn’t really subside. Fortunately, over the next couple of weeks, the pain went away. Because of the ineffectiveness of the treatment, it started me thinking about the validity of the profession. Anyways, I carry on regardless. Then about 2 years later, I get back pain again. True to form, my mom ships me off to the chiropractor. During the consultation, the chiropractor proceeds to tell me that if I regularly go for checkups, it’ll improve my guitar playing. IN MY FINGERS! After that consultation, I swore never to go back to another chiropractor ever again. And the research began…

Did you know that chiropractic is based on pseudoscience? The Skeptic’s Dictionary has a lot to say on the matter so I’ll quote:

The basic idea of classical chiropractic is that “subluxations” are the cause of most medical problems. According to chiropractic, a “subluxation” is a misalignment of the spine that allegedly interferes with nerve signals from the brain. However, there is no scientific evidence for spinal subluxations and none have ever been observed by medical practitioners such as orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, or radiologists. Chiropractors think that by adjusting the misalignments they can thereby restore the nerve signals and cure health problems. This idea was first propounded in 1895 by D.D. Palmer, a grocer from Davenport, Iowa, and a vitalist who considered intelligent energy to be conveying information among various body parts.

Intelligent energy? Are you kidding me? Does the average person know this? If you look at the wikipedia entry, it’s listed under “Alternative Medicine”. Yup, right up there with Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Acupuncture and Magic Pixie Shiatsu Massage. I ‘ve had a friend tell me they’ve followed Ayurveda to the letter, and has made absolutely no difference in there lives. The problem seems to be that everyone seems to rely on anecdotal evidence (Oh the irony). The major problem with that is you can always find someone with a different opinion. Does no one do research anymore? The entry in Skeptic’s Dictionary goes on:

For years chiropractors rarely worked with medical doctors and they were almost never on staff at hospitals. The American Medical Association (AMA) made no bones about its disapproval of chiropractic, which was discredited by their Committee on Quackery. The chiropractors fought back and won a lawsuit against the AMA in 1976 for restraint of trade.

Restraint of trade? What? No jumping to the defense of chiropractors everywhere by providing factual evidence of it’s validity? No shouting of, “Liar liar, pants on fire!” Instead, they go after the AMA from an economic standpoint. They are effectively saying, “you’re getting rid of your competition”, something more akin to Microsoft(Read here for more information). It seems they didn’t want to get tangled in a my expert has a bigger research pool than your research pool debate.

Doesn’t that seem a little suspicious to you?

Dog > Tank
October 18th, 2006 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: 2 ]

I came across the following wikipedia link on reddit today. What the hell were people thinking half-way through the last century? Typical Russians you say? Oh but wait. It’s not just them. As if entertaining the idea of remoteviewing (e.g. the Stargate Project) wasn’t bad enough, the CIA developed the purrfect secret weapon. That’s right. Operation Acoustic Kitty! Oh but it gets worse. I did a little bit of digging on the net and found this site which details the use of animals throughout the ages.

Okay anything before the turn of the 20th century I can sort of understand. Men were probably little more than apes back then. But I would think that an army would not be able to be brought to its knees by a mangy mutt in search of sustenance. I’m just waiting for gorillas with bazookas/rpgs. It’ll give the poachers one hell of a surprise.

Reinventing The Tweel?
October 16th, 2006 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: 1 ]

Programmers love to shout, “Don’t reinvent the wheel!“. I suppose they’ll call this inventing the Tweel then :P. Apparently there’s still problems with noise with regard to this “tweel”. To be honest, after 60 or so years of radial tire indoctrination, I don’t think these tires are going to go down with the boyracers of this world. I don’t forsee these things rolling around the Cape Flats somehow. Also, I have a few questions about the potential safety hazards.

Ever had a kid shove a stick between the spokes of your bicycle wheels?

Palms Up gig
October 14th, 2006 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: 1 ]

So I get IM’ed on Thursday from Martin acting like an excited, crack addicted, Jack Russell. Apparently he went to Cafe Miam the previous night to go watch a band called Palms Up. I could sense how excited he was. He went on about how great they were, their awesome jazz sound, how he wanted to have the lead singer’s children, etc. So I figured ol’ Mcfly has been known to have some taste on occasion so I checked out their web page. Next gig was going to be the next day so I decided to get some friends together and made a trip to Rafiki’s.

We got their on time, and then found out that the Palms Up was only due to start at 10 and the support band would be on from about 9. I’m pretty sure there is a definite Cape Town time zone that people that live here are born with. And I seem to consistently half an hour ahead. I think it’s a sign that I’m growing old maturing. Anyway, so the support act (Unbranded) weren’t that bad. Guitar work was interesting albeit not that technical. I guess I found their lyrics a little bit too one dimensional for me. I guess I’m just a bit too old over the hill past being able to identify with being in my late teens and out of school obsessing over girls. Regardless, they kept the crowd (of mostly groupies) entertained more than I could so props must be given. I think their was one song that was played that really stood out as a good song for me.

So Palms Up took the stage at 10 and I tell you, within about the first 30 seconds, I could tell I was going to enjoy this. The lead singer’s (Matthew Davidson) voice just oozed class (which is exactly what I told Gary when he lent over and asked me what I thought). You can tell that these guys are professional musicians and anything else they’re doing is just a day job. The band was so tight and practiced. The guitaring was excellent considering that the lead singer was playing at the same time. I didn’t think much of the drummer but Rachel (who knows more about such things) said he was good and she enjoyed his playing. As for the bass player, anyone who can play the double bass is practically virtuoso by my standards. Coming from playing guitar, I can’t understand how anyone can play without frets.

I’m not sure who has the majority of the songwriting duties (I suspect it’s Matthew) but I found it clever, witty and heartfelt. Even though the majority of their songs were also about girls, it didn’t feel like I was reading some teenage angst-filled diary. It had depth which I felt the other act lacked.

Since they seem to be regulars at Cafe Miam I’m sure I will be making a trip their more often to go check them out. And quite frankly, anyone who’s reading this should to.

Bleh to helicopters
October 12th, 2006 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: none ]

Sheesh. Got woken up at 2 o’ clock in the morning by some helicopters. Whenever I see them flying so low, it makes me think of black helicopters only without the cool whisper rotors (if only) and covert ops that extend the power and influence of government.

Can’t the police forces just do their jobs without waking me up? I guess I wouldn’t be South African if I didn’t complain about crime on the one hand and then complain when they do something about it.