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OBAMA BREAKS BUSH’S RECORD!

EVIL NICK - Well, President Obama’s done it. He has broken Bush’s record for number of days in his first year without a catastrophic terrorist attack. Bush said it best after receiving an August 6th 2001 briefing entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in the US.” The then President didn’t ask follow-up questions. He didn’t order more investigation into the threat. His only response to the aid was “Ok, you covered your ass.”  And let’s not forget the 7 minutes of inaction President Bush wasted after being told a plane hit the second tower. Ok, you’re right, you got me. The 7 minute thing is just liberal propaganda dreamed up by Michel Moore. The filmmaker got it completely wrong. According to the independent 9/11 commission it was just 5 minutes Bush sat doing nothing after he was told the United States was under attack.  Watch the You Tube split screen of those minutes.  In this nuclear age do you know how long 5 minutes are? Try sitting there now, not talking, not doing anything, f…

DOES DIGITAL MEDIA MAKE PRINTED BOOKS WORTHLESS?

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For the last couple of days I have been corresponding with someone on Facebook about healthcare. (I promise this Post will not be about healthcare) He would write something and I would respond. And yes, all of my responses were just as lengthy and boring as you might imagine. Yesterday, my computer alerted me that my sparring partner had struck again. Another challenge! I couldn't wait to rush home and post yet another, oh so clever retort. The strange thing is when I went to respond, my adversary’s latest post was gone, along with all his previous posts. All that were left were my responses. Standing alone they looked like the rambling of a crazy person. If you read them without seeing his stuff it seemed very much like I would write something then wander away only to return moments later to answer questions no one had asked, as though I was responding to voices in my head, only I could hear. I was arguing about Lyndon Johnson for god’s sake. But I swear he brought it up first! A…

FIGHTING WITH MYSELF

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EVIL NICK: God! have you seen all those conservatives screaming at town hall meetings. I have news for them. Contrary to their convoluted belief, none of the healthcare bills currently in congress say anything about “death panels euthanizing your grandparents.” Nor have they ever. These republicans are panicky little crybabies. It reminds me of that study that came out a while back that proved that conservatives act the way they do because they are less brave then liberals.

GOOD NICK: I assume you are referring to the study last year published in the “Journal Science” by Kevin B Smith. It suggested a link between the positions people hold on such controversial issues as gun control, pacifism and capital punishment with their reaction to disturbing images and startling sounds.
EVIL NICK: Yah, that’s the one. They measured perspiration and eye reaction and found that conservatives are three times more afraid of stuff then progressives. Damn pantywaists. Every little thing in the world se…

A MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE

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At parties, you’ve heard me say that when it comes to my world view I am a “Skeptic.” (Right now, I am addressing only the people I have gotten drunk in front of, which it turns out is more of you then I wish to admit) Some of you think I use the word Skeptic as a general adjective, as in: “I am skeptical, please refill my wine glass.” To be clear, when I say I am a Skeptic I mean, I belong to an organized group calling, themselves “Skeptics.” Yes, there is such a group. You’ll be surprised to hear there are a number of such grumpy sounding groups. They publish grumpy magazines like "The Skeptic” and “Skeptical Inquirer.” They have grumpy podcasts like “Point of Inquiry” and “The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.” They have grumpy congressional lobbing groups and they even hold grumpy conventions. They just had one this month in Las Vegas where I’m sure no one gambled because no one believed they could win. That’s all a pack of lies of cause. They are not a bunch of grumpy people.…

JACKSON'S CONTRIBUTION TO NEWS QUALITY

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The Michael Jackson media circus reminded me of something I thought of a while back. Remember the Anna Nicole Smith nonsense over here estate and custody of her children? Well in the wake of her death I created a formula called the Anna Nicole Smith Inverse News Quality Index (© Nick Farrantello 2009). I think it also fits for Jackson. It works like this – The amount of air time that a particular news program gives to such stories (like Anna Nicole or Jackson) is inversely equal to the quality of that particular news show's overall performance. Not just its performance in covering Anna or Jackson, its performance covering all news. If you are listening to a station that is devoting all it's time to Jackson then (when it comes to news) that station probably blows. If the station you’re listening to doesn’t give the Jackson story much air time then that station is a quality new outlet. I believe that this relationship between air time and how reliabile and accuracy a particular…

OPRAH'S A BAD DOCTOR

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Check out the current issue of Newsweek. The magazine takes on the Goddess of all quack medicine, Oprah Winfrey. Wow, Newsweek’s got balls!
Celebrities get to where they are by wearing blinders. They must have the ability to ignore other people’s opinions. To succeed in Hollywood (along with a mountain of luck) you have to have persistence. Persistence entails the ability to ignore everyone who doesn’t agree with you.
You must ignore critics who question your ability (that is to say the people criticizing the methodology by which you do things). You must ignore friends that might tell you it’s time to give up this acting thing and get a real job (that is not accepting results). And you must ignore odds that tell you your chances of succeeding are one in a million, (that means you must be bad at math). All those qualities that make for a successful celebrity make for a lousy scientist.
A good scientist (or doctor) should listen to his or her critics. If others can show a scientist’s met…

TRADING MY FINGERS FOR ALIENS

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I don’t believe in a damn thing. UFO’s, Bigfoot, ESP, the Loch Ness Monster, ghosts, you name it. In my mind it’s all a bunch of poop. Despite that, I still consider myself very open minded. The reason for this is nothing revolutionary. It’s a reason that other Skeptics sight as to why they too are open minded. Simply put, I want there to be flying saucers. Are you kidding? Alien visitors from another planet, how awesome would that be? I want there to be a Loch Ness Monster. The idea of some animal surviving from the age of the dinosaurs would be fascinating. I want there to be ghosts. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want there to be an afterlife? ESP? Bring it on. Mindreading would be the bomb. Now, in the spirit of complete disclosure, Bigfoot doesn’t do anything for me. If there really is some big, hairy, naked guy running around in the woods of Montana, I’d just as soon not know about it - but UFO’S?
To make it absolutely clear, as to how much I would love it if there where aliens…
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Want to not be a zombie? Change your Mind about something. Find a subject that you hold a specific position on and actively and honestly try to change your own mind on that subject. Do some research, read some of the opposition literature, really make an effort to understand the other side of that position.
I’m not saying give in to some something. I’m saying actively seek out a subject in which you can honestly say “I use to hold position A but after doing more research I now hold position Z which is it’s direct opposite.” You don’t have to change your mind about everything, just find one thing, anything. Start with something that is not to close to you, something you can give up without it meaning much.
You might even try arguing that new position with a friend just to test whether you really understand it. I'll explain using the A and Z thing again. Let’s say you hold position A and your friend also holds position A. (That’s probably why you're friends) I’m saying make an hon…

GOING GAULT

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There is a new term floating around the conservative blogesphere - It’s “going Gault” It refers to the protagonist John Galt in Ayn Rand's novel, “Atlas Shrugged." In the book Galt convinces all the captains of industries to go on strike to protest the fact that the rest of the world feeds off of what they (the executives) produce. Many conservatives are suggesting that executives in this country do this very thing to protest against Presidents Obama’s proposed tax hikes targeting the rich. (It’s not really a tax hike but actually just going back to the rates we had under Clinton and Reagan) They say they are going to stop showing up at board meetings and show us workers who the real producers in this country are. I say go right ahead. I would love to see them try. I guarantee if one hundred of the top executives in this country disappeared tomorrow the world wouldn’t even skip a beat. How full of themselves can these people be? The only billionaire that I can think of who ac…

THE BEST I CAN DO?

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After blasting the Freedom from Religion Foundation last week for coming up with what I thought were lame bus signs, I thought I would try to make one myself. I apologize to them. It’s not that easy. This one I made is clumsy but I am posting it for your amusement anyway.

THE BEST YOU CAN DO

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It started with signs in London that read “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.”
Next came signs in DC saying, “Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness sake.” They pictured a young person wearing a Santa outfit and looking like they belong in a Benetton commercial. This is good advertising.
Recently the group Freedom from Religion Foundation paid to have these signs displayed on buses in Madison, Wisconsin. I think promoting Atheism is great. The London and DC sign campaigns were brilliant. With that said, these Madison posters are awful. There are so many things wrong with them, I can't type fast enough. First, they are all too negative. The sepia tone makes me feel like the Atheist movement belongs to the past like buggy whips, and baseball. What’s with Clarence Darrow? He looks like a Vulcan! And butterfly McQueen! Who in God’s name is Butterfly McQueen?
Besides that, if you want to show some famous people who are Atheists don’t quote Richard Dawkins. I…

Godless In Orlando

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A local Atheist group whose meetings I have attended recently wants to start a website and asked its members for name suggestions. Here is my response:
On the question of whether we should use the word atheist in the name of the site - I think it depends on what the purpose of the webpage will be? Do we want to recruit? Then maybe it should like a sports team (O-TownAtheists.com). Do we want to push for policy changes in local government? Then I suggest TheCollisionforLegislativeReason.us. Do we want to have influence on school boards? Then we absolutely have to drop the word Atheist and shove the word family in there someplace. How about AmericanFamiliesForReligiousTruth.org Who could be against Truth? Do we want to get exposure on local news? Then I suggest GodlessOrlando.net. If you want to get on nathional news - ChristiansAreDumb.com. Do we want a Facebook hookup site? Then go with FreeThoughtChicks.cc. Or, do we just want to alert members as to where the n…
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METEORS AND TAXES

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Have you heard of the “fair tax?” Throw away all taxes and just institute an across the board sales tax on everything. It sounds like a good idea at first, right? The problems arise when you stop to really think about it.
Forget about the problem with the actual legislation. It doesn’t eliminate the IRS as promised just changes the name. It doesn’t eliminate state income taxes, local city sales taxes, lodging taxes, or even federal gas taxes as promised, just adds to them. It would encourage the expansion of a nearly impossible to monitor underground economy. And it has built into the actual legislation a system of rebates basically neutralizing its “non-progressive” selling point. Forget about all that.
Let’s take a few seconds and look at the basic idea itself. Is the basic idea really fair?
As I see it the “fair tax” falls short do to one basic flaw. It mixes essentials (things we all need to exist) with nonessentials. Here are four scenarios that will help you understand why this is …

THE DOWSING MACHINE

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My friend who is participating in the dowsing test emailed me. Here is part of the email:
Please bear in mind that we are testing a specific and limited form of dowsing - I have never made any claims regarding dowsing for water, underground cavities, or anything other than ferrous metals - in fact, I am very skeptical about these other types of dowsing. We could also test the subterranean flowing water type of dowsing in another experiment, but it would require a different, and more complicated, test setup. I'd also like to build a dowsing machine to totally remove human subjectivity from the process, but this too is for later. Do you have a date or place in mind? We need to make this into a fun interesting event!
My response:
You are correct. First priority is that the test must be fun. I propose that all the guests at the party state which result they think will prevail, Skepticism or Dowsing. They are each given something to identify their position (preferably a silly hat). Each t…

DRUNKEN DOWSING: cherry picking

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I want to talk a little bit about a logical fallacy called “Cherry Picking,” but first I should bring you up to date on the dowsing test that my friend and I are working on.
I was really pleased with what my dowsing friend Tom (not his real name) said at the last party. He suggested for the dowsing test I hide rebar in one of several PVC pipes. I went to Home Depot and purchased some 2 ½“ PVC and 4 pieces of rebar. I plan to cluster the 4 pieces of rebar together and place the cluster in one of five PVC pipes for him to pick.
I was thinking that the day of the test Tom could designate 5 spots in the backyard that he feels are clear of any interference. We could put towels down to mark those spots. I would then place the PVC pipes on those spots. He would use his dowsing ability to pick which PVC pipe contained the cluster of rebar. We would do this a number of times. Each time I would switch out which piece of PVC contained the rebar.
Tom thought each round should have 10 choices (10 pie…

DRUNKEN DOWSING PART 2

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Here is the next installment of the dowsing test.

(DOWSER- TOM – not his real name)
Let’s make the Dowsing experiment into a kind of performance piece/party! I'll bring plenty of dowsing rods - I know that after I prove that dowsing is true, everyone will want to learn how. Maybe even you!

(ME)
A test at a party would be great but not at the one coming up. We have not yet come up with the protocol for the experiment. And as the Wicked Witch of the West has said, "These things have to be done delicately."
I would love to learn how to dowse. You may not know this but there are a number of science organizations around the world which will award you large sums of money (we are talking a million dollars) if you can demonstrate to them that you can do what you claim. But we are getting a little ahead of ourselves. Why don't we see if you can dowse first? Then we can have a dowsing rave because you are going to be rich.
From what I have read these science groups usually start out…

AS CLEAR AS MUD

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First off, I would like to say Happy New Year. I can’t seem to shake this nagging feeling that 2009 will be a really good year.
Recently our local, progressively minded, free newspaper, The Orlando Weekly, printed an article in which they asked local newsmakers what they thought 2009 will be like. They chose some county commissioners, a radio news personality, and some local charity board members to use their crystal balls to pear into the future. The responses the paper received were interesting but not outstanding with the exception of one, Kim Wade, resident “psychic” at a New Age Shop in Orlando called Avalon. I want to compliment Wade for her STUNNING AND DARING predictions for 2009.
Without the benefit of ESP, gay activist, Michael Wanzie foresees Florida’s ban on gay adoption being lifted in 2009. Kim Wade, on the other hand, went out on a limb to say “Political things will be front-row center” in 2009.
Because of the slowing economy, reporter, Mike Synan of WDBO radio was willing…

DRUNKEN DOWSING

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Well, I found myself at yet another party, with too much wine in me. There I was with five others arguing about the paranormal. As is generally the case, I alone was defending Science and Skepticism against assaults from all sides. I wasn’t doing very well. My losses were completely due to the amount of alcohol that I had consumed and in no way related to my position, which I assure you was rock solid. Or at least that’s how I remember it. Although the next morning I woke up with a terrible headache and my socks were missing.
Sensing vulnerability, one of my friends decided to attack on another front by reminding me that he is an accomplished dowser. They all know exactly where my buttons are and have no qualms in pushing them liberally.
The long and short of it is I have a challenge. I must come up with an experiment to test my friend’s abilities. I will try to document this experiment and keep you posted as to how it is progressing. The following is the first email exchange:

(ME)So I’v…

MESSAGES FROM WATER

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Last week at a party a friend of mine started talking about the experiments of Masaru Emoto. The following is an entry from Wikipedia:

Masaru Emoto , is a Japanese author known for his controversial claim that if human speech or thoughts are directed at water droplets before they are frozen, images of the resulting water crystals will be beautiful or ugly depending upon whether the words or thoughts were positive or negative. Emoto claims this can be achieved through prayer, music or by attaching written words to a container of water.

Two things came to mind when I heard this claim. Don’t you think it is an amazing coincidence that nice thoughts produced white orderly crystals, while angry thoughts produced black splotchy disorderly crystals? I understand that the bad guys are supposed to wear black hats and the good guys are supposed to wear white, but, come on. What are the chances that a chemical reaction would somehow correlate to old Hollywood western stereotypes? Couldn’t it have …