Wednesday, December 31, 2008

(Not) Psychic Predictions for 2009

Ok. I'm NOT psychic. In fact, I think there are two types of people who claim to be psychic: those who know they aren't psychic but persist to lie and steal from people and those to are self deluded and actually believe the have paranormal powers. See my previous post "Learn How to by a Psychic (and steal people's money.)" Then go here to learn even more.

I just reviewed some psychic prediction for 2008. The internet is so funny that I really can't trust that these people have honestly kept all their predictions. I shold have printed some out last year. I'll do some searching this weekend and post a few from popular "psychics." There are two main ways that psychics will show their accuracy. First, they will conveniently delete or ignore their misses. This works great for them because people tend to forget the misses too. Second, they will make such broad and general predictions that almost any thing can "fit" the prediction.

I've decided to try my hand at predicting events for 2009. I've sequestered myself in my basement for over 10 minutes and concentrated real hard....

1. There will be a bout of severe weather where many people will die.

2. There will be an increase in violence that will lead to many death.

3. The economy will become more stable and more people will find work.

4. A world leader will face a difficult crossroads with far reaching consequences.

5. A world leader will be threaten and/or assassinated.

6. Scientists will discover a cure for an ailment.

7. A sports team will have an unpredictably great season that will lead to a championship.

8. Britney Spears will cause interesting drama and may remarry and become pregnant.

9. A really horrible movie will debut that will offend many people.

10. There will be great instability in the middle east. Many people will die.

There you go. Now, keep me honest and remind me to update these throughout the year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Angel near the plane


Angel near the plane
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Lot of recent hype about a picture that someone claims is an angel that cured their kid...so sad. Here a similar pic. This one is my flash reflecting in the window along with some lights behind me also in the reflection. It sure looks freaky though...I suppose it could be an orb angel of some kind. LOL

I have a much nicer pic without the flash here.

Have Skeptics Fallen Prey to Confirmation Bias? Wishful Thinking?

removed

Sunday, December 28, 2008

500 Views of Mully410 Critical Blog

I've passed my first milestone in the blog world. Actually, I probably passed it a couple weeks ago because I only just added a page view counter. Until about a month ago, I had no idea if anyone was reading my blog. Now, I know. People do read my blog. Somebody even "Dugg" my blog yesterday. Cool.

Thanks everyone. I'd still like to see more comments and haven't had any one subscribe yet but that will happen some day because I rock.

I personally don't use any blog feeder/readers other than the NetworkedBlogs application on Facebook. Once I get a few more members to join my blog network on Facebook, it will hit the live feeder so you'll be able to see my posts along side all the other great blogs you read.

Try this link to join my NetworkedBlogs on Facebook or look on the right sidebar of my blog page and use that widget.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Digg - Overview: "Go ahead and Digg it!"

For a while now, I've been seeing these little "Digg It" icons on various blogs and stories I read. I finally checked it out this weekend.

Digg - Overview

From the Digg site:

Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users. You won’t find editors at Digg — we’re here to provide a place where people can collectively determine the value of content and we’re changing the way people consume information online.

How do we do this? Everything on Digg — from news to videos to images — is submitted by our community (that would be you). Once something is submitted, other people see it and Digg what they like best. If your submission rocks and receives enough Diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of our visitors to see.

The best thing is that you can customize your Digg homepage to pull up articles that might interest you. It's very cool. Digg can be fed directly to your Facebook wall so your friends can see what you've "dugg." Plus, if you don't have enough on-line friends through your myspace or facebook, you can connect with friends through Digg to see what they are Digging in the news world.

It was simple to add the "Digg It" icon to my blog. I've already started getting Diggs from people I don't know. Very cool. Sign up. It's free. So far, I haven't received any spam as a result of my sign up.

Friday, December 26, 2008

8 Reasons why you don't talk to the police, especially if you are innocent.

I ran across this post while surfing Digg.com. It's very interesting. My civil rights activism has mostly focused on the 2nd and 4th Amendments but now I am a new big fan of the 5th Amendment.

The two videos in this blog provide some very interesting reasons why innocent people should not talk to the cops. It seems counterintuitive that you shouldn't talk to the cops if you think you've done nothing illegal. What's the harm? You could go to prison, that's the harm.

The first speaker is a law school professor. My favorite favorite reason is one of the first he mentions. Basically, there are so many laws, regulations, codes and rules that no one person can possibly keep them all straight. Once you make a statement to the police, the prosecutors can look into every little detail of what you said. The more you say, the more opportunity for them to find something. "Any thing you say will be used against you..."

The second speaker is a law enforcement officer. It's his job to put people in jail. He's done 1000s of interviews. No matter how smart you think you are, you aren't going to fool a guy like this. I never thought of it that way. It would be like me taking on Tiger Woods in a round of golf.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

7000+ Views!


Close Up Bumble Bee
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Wow. It's almost time to end this awful year and begin a new year full of awfulness.

One bright spot for me is my photography. I started taking photo in earnest this year. The impetus for that was my new great camera, a Sony DSC-W150. I used to lug around a 35mm SLR once in a while but found I left it at home more often. This new little camera takes great shots and is easy to take everywhere.

This year, photography got me out of the house more than ever. I explored great and mediocre parks for the first time and I saw lots of cool plants, animals and other stuff.

When I started contibuting to my Flickr photostream, I had no idea so many people would enjoy my art. As of today, people have viewed my work over 7000 times! 30 of my photos are somebody's favorite and I have over 100 nice comments. Thank you all!

Festive medical myths....

I've seen most of these myths in various publications over the years. 
Festive medical myths -- Vreeman and Carroll 337: a2769 -- BMJ
The one that really pisses people off is the fact that sugar doesn't cause hyperactivity in children.  I feel like a witch at an inquisition when I mention this one to parents.  Junkfood Science Blog has lots more information on this one.  This belief is a good example of confirmation bias, if you ask me.
I like the explanation about heat loss from your head.  I hadn't heard about that military study.  I always suspected that myth came from ignorant scientists who thought the brain looked like a radiator.  The brain does kind of look like it would be a good radiator, but since it's inside a skull, it wouldn't work well to radiate heat.  If we lost so much heat only from our heads, we should be able to go outside in below zero weather and be perfectly comfortable wearing only a hat.  Try that experiment and let me know how it works out for you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Everything you need to know about your irrational fear of mercury...the element not the planet.

Junkfood Science: Do fish fly?

This is a long article with lots of links. If your brain doesn't hurt when you are done, you haven't learned anything. Every so often I feel compelled to remind you: do your own research, follow the links, go to wikipedia and follow thier reference links, be skeptical, critically think, don't rely solely on my posts...any questions?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tough Economy? Sort of Employed? What is Shared Work?

This post is a little bit of a departure from my normal photo posting and critical commentary. I've tried to find critical commentary to reference for this post but so far I've had little success. I'll post a review once I know a little more.

Recently, a number of people I know may be put on a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development program called Shared Work. This program is strange to me only because I've never heard of it.

Basically it is:

The Shared Work Program is an option for employers faced with a layoff. It allows an employer to divide available hours of work among a group of employees instead of a full layoff. Affected employees may then receive partial unemployment insurance benefits while working reduced hours. By participating in the Shared Work Program, an employer can maintain morale, productivity and flexibility in the work place.


Here is an example:
A firm facing a 20 percent reduction in business may consider laying off one-fifth of its workforce. However, under an approved Shared Work plan, that company could maintain its total workforce while reducing each worker's scheduled hours by one-fifth or 20 percent. Employees would receive a partial unemployment insurance payment equal to 20 percent of their individual weekly unemployment insurance award along with the income earned for the week under the approved plan.

I found this NPR report from December 24, 2001. I haven't listened to it yet mostly because I'm reluctant to install Real Player. Please post commentary if you've heard this broadcast.

More useful links here:

Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Office.
Minnesota Statute for Shared Work.
FAQ on Shared Work

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why Should Athiests Care about Religion?

I found this interesting video posted on the Life Without Faith blog. This woman really hits the nail on the head with her comments. It's difficult for me to disagree with anything she says in this video.


Go ahead and watch some of her other videos. They are entertaining.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Space Needle and Smoke Stacks


Space Needle and Smoke Stacks (2)
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I recently spent about 20 hours in the Seattle Washington area. Since twelve hours of that was spent in the dark and most of the rest of my time was in a business meeting, I only got a few pictures. The weather was gloomy so the lighting was not optimal. I took this shot of the Space Needle from the car. I think it turned out pretty nice. I have a few more pics on my flickr page.

Update: Last week I had 1495 views of my art. My total views is now at 6360. Some of my photos are getting high ranks in google and yahoo searches. I'm not exactly sure why they find my stuff but it seems mostly likely due to my superior skill and creativity.

This photo has been ranked 3 or 5 out of 1.5M items since last Monday on a google search for "Viking Towel." I took it at the MN State Fair this year. Thanks to Visanthe Shiancoe and Fox News.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sad Face (Moon Jupiter and Venus)


Sad Face (Moon Jupiter and Venus)
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Record week on my flickr page! 1495 views for the week which puts the all time total views of my photostream at 5973. Nice!

Ok...I rotated the above photo 180 degrees to make the sad face. I like the nice Earthshine on the moon. Pareidolia is the reason you may see a face here. This particular photo had 119 views last week and has the most comments at 17. People love it.

The big one was still this photo which had 247 views last week. This is most likely due to the weird chance that it showed up on a yahoo.image search.

Two of my conjunction photos made it into my 100+ views set.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Life-and-Death Cost of Gun Control

I am a civil rights activist. Surprised? I choose to focus mostly on the civil rights guaranteed in the 2nd and 4th amendments. Go here to learn about the largest civil rights activist group.

I don't have the energy to dig deep into this topic today. Thankfully, John R. Lott Jr. does a great job explaining my position in this article:

The Life-and-Death Cost of Gun Control « FOX Forum « FOXNews.com

Someday, I'll post my experience with 911 when I got a busy signal for about 10 minutes and a time when a friend of mine prevented a road rage beating by simply showing that he was armed. Go here for a good book by Lott. By the way, there are now about 51,000 people in Minnesota with permits to carry firearms. Where are all the "wild west" shootouts?...oh wait...it's only the criminals who run around shooting people. huh.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Record on my Flickr Photostream


Jupiter Moon Venus
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Today, I had a record amount of views on my flickr photostream. 566 views! That means my photostream has over 5200 views all time!

The above pic was the most hit today at 143 views (218 all time). This photo just happened to pop up as #1, out of 26,000+ images, on a yahoo image search for "Jupiter Moon Venus." How cool is that? I hope people weren't disappointed because this shot was taken well before the conjunction that took place on Dec 1.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Astronomy is so cool!


Moon Venus Jupiter (4)
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I got some pics of the Moon, Venus, Jupiter conjunction tonight. What really surprised me is a couple space/astronomy bloggers are linking to my photos. Very cool! The photo above shot up to 15 views within a few minutes of posting. Another one of my MVJ photos is almost over 100 views mostly due to yahoo image searches today (weird).

Thanks to this blogger, this blogger, spacetoday.com and to space.com. I'm not sure where my photos got posted on spacetoday.com and space.com but flickr's tracker is claiming some hits from that domain. Very cool.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

ISS and Shuttle by Big Dipper


ISS and Shuttle by Big Dipper
Originally uploaded by Mully410

This is my first attempt at photographing the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle. Shuttle had just detached from ISS earlier today so they were still relatively close. I experimented with some of the settings on my camera and adjusted the contrast with software. I think these shots turned out OK. I'm so proud. I have a set of these pics on my flickr site.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Do you believe in Aliens?


Venus Jupiter UFO Antenna (2)
Originally uploaded by Mully410

So far, I haven't seen any convincing evidence to conclude that aliens are visiting our planet. I've seen all the fuzzy pictures and heard the eyewitness accounts. I've also made a bunch of "paranormal" and "UFO" pictures myself. Each one has a logical, reproducible normal explanation.


I agree with Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, in his post from today. It's probably very likely there is life out there but it's mostly likely microbial. Read Phil's post or go to his link to a video he made. If you don't feel like reading. Then go buy his great new book: Death From The Skies.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I am so


I am so
Originally uploaded by Mully410

This video should push my flickr views over 4000. WOW !WooHoo! Yippee. Thanks for all your views.

Thank you for your personal comments about my end of the world blog. Please post them on the blog if you can...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This how our world is going to end: Not by climate change, nor by asteroid calamity, nor by Obama...it will be from stupidity.

Earlier tonight, I sat down at the dinner table to eat some chips and dip.  Little did I know that I'd be eating a whole load bullshit

I frequently get catalogs from local community colleges and community education organizations.  I always read through them looking for classes that will expand my knowledge and hopefully make me smarter.   Most catalogs start out with their classes for EMT, First Responder and the assorted first aid and CPR classes.  There are courses on how to use MS Excel and MS Word along with everything from auto repair to book keeping and welding.  I'm sometimes inspired by these catalogs.  It brings back memories of college and I get the pleasant feeling that I'm "shopping for knowledge."  

As I start digging into my healthy snack, I open up the latest catalog from a local county's community college.  It came in a newspaper format with photos and brief bios of young pretty coeds and teachers.   It described how to get enrolled and noted some generalities about their available courses of study.  I was comforted by the usual familiar topics:  Art, Business, Biomedical Technology, computers, book keeping and healthcare.   Eventually, I see a section: "Integrative Health and Healing."  Oh Oh.  I started to get a little anxious as I had just read this blog post the other day.

At this point, I have no idea what "Integrative Health and Healing" is but it's sandwiched between the nursing courses and the small business development section.

Blammmy!  My head exploded. 

Here are some of courses they are offering at the accredited tax payer funded college:

"Healing Touch Level 1:  People of varying knowledge and experience will develop concepts and skills in energy-based therapy.  Describe the human energy system relationship to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.  Discuss energy principles basic to Healing Touch.  Access the energy field and energy centers.  Identify a basic Healing Touch sequence.  Demonstrate specific intervention techniques.   Discuss applications of Healing Touch in personal and professional practice."

Wow.  I've been going to medical doctors my whole life.  Who needs college, medical school and residency to learn about medicine when all you need is a $300 course that teaches how to heal with energy?  Wait a sec, you will likely need "Healing Touch Level 2" where they teach "a one-hour healing sequence" and let you "practice back and neck techniques."  Ok.  $600 is still a bargain. 

But wait...there's more:

"Energy Anatomy and Your Health:  Your body has a physical anatomy, but it also has an energetic system.  Learn about chakra principles and how they affect your life, health and energy.  Learn how your body reflects the lessons of your life and how to consciously take back your personal power.  Learn about your own spirit's unlimited capacity for self-healing and divine connection."

Holy shit.  I don't even need a Healing Touch now, I can just learn how to fix my energy and heal myself.  This is getting better and better.  Plus, this class is only $75 and looks like only two 2 hours sessions.  Cool.  4 hours and 75 bucks.  Who needs health insurance?

I could go on for another 10,000 words and describe the 40 or classes they list.  This catalog has it all:  Reiki, Herbalism, Acupressure, Essential Oils, Aroma Therapy and Labyrinth.  Wait. What was that?  Labyrinth?

"The Healing Labyrinth...More than Walking in Circles:  The labyrinth is an ancient pattern and archetypal symbol that transcends centuries and cultures.  Today the labyrinth is re-emerging throughout the world as a spiritual tool and waling medication. Explore the history of the labyrinth and ways that healing can be achieved through waling the labyrinth.  You will have the opportunity to walk and indoor labyrinth.  An optional labyrinth tour is available during the afternoon, weather permitting."

I'm not even sure what to say about that.  I think I got brain all over my monitor.  This is the best bargain so far:  4 hours and only $45.  I only have to walk around in circles and I'll be healed.  That's a whole lot better than listening to a sermon and getting smacked in the head by Benny Hinn.

If it was only as simple as taking a couple courses for a few hundred bucks...I know some of you are thinking "what's the harm? It's their money and their time, why not try it?"  Well, there is harm.  Go here to read up on it.  If that's not enough, then consider:  It's wasted time you could've spent with your kids, it's wasted money you could've given to a charity and it's false hope.  These things don't work.  If they did work, every doctor, medical school and hospital would be relying on them right now. These things are not new.  If they worked, we would use them.

Rather than post a bunch of research links here for you to ignore, I'll give you a couple very fine posts to start you off. 

Go listen to Brian Dunning's short podcast on homeopathy.

Go read Sandy Szwarc's blog posts on healing energy and healing hands.

Go learn about energy.  It's not what these people want you to believe.

Do research.  Spend time with your family and use your money to make the world a better, smarter place.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Irregular Trees


Irregular Trees 4
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I took this shot at dusk on November 10, 2008. It was the 3rd day of deer hunting season. I was sitting on a dirt mound with a pretty good view of this meadow on the edge of a big cedar swamp. These trees are really freaky in person when it gets dark.

Thanks to everyone who has been clicking on my flickr page. 3701 views as of today!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Skepticblog » The Tao of Chinese Medicine - I

Remember Yau-Man Chan from the "reality show" Survivor? He has joined a bunch of skeptics who created a pilot for a television show called the Skeptologists. He is also a regular contributor to a new blog I read: http://skepticblog.org/

This post is the first part of a two part series on TCM (traditional Chinese medicine).

Skepticblog » The Tao of Chinese Medicine - I

After you check you Yau-Man's posts, take a look at some of the other great posts by other illustrious skeptics such as: Brian Dunning, Phil Plait, Steven Novella, Kirsten Sanford and Michael Shermer.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Critically Think About Your Vitamin Supplements.

Read this article at Junkfood Science and follow all the links that she posts. It looks like very good information. Basically, the only thing vitamin supplements are proven effective at is reducing the size of your wallet. (unless, of course, your doctor recommends them for some deficiency)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Learn How To Be a Psychic (and steal people's money)

I did some Tarot card readings back in college. It was weird. At the time, I had little idea what I was doing. I got a deck from a friend and a book from the library. I set up some candles in my dorm room and "conditioned" each person who wanted a reading by explaining the process and emphasized that they had to concentrate etc... I had a book from the library that explained the cards. Each card had so many different definitions, I just picked one that fit the person and the placement of the card. People considered my readings "accurate." Now, I know why. People want to believe. They don't count all the "misses" you have and only focus on the "hits" (the answers you get correct). I really wish I'd have kept track of the misses and hits, but I didn't. I know now that all I was doing was cold reading.
Without knowing it, I was using a technique used by all magicians and mentalist called "Cold Reading." Do a Google search and you'll find links like this: Australian Skeptics and JREF. I'm sure it wouldn't take me too long to get good at this. My problem is that I'm a bad liar and all my friends know me as an irritating skeptic. I also like to think I have ethics and morals that preclude me from taking people's money by preying on their emotions.

Please do some critical thinking before you spend money on psychics, mediums and card/palm/leaf readers. Use your money to pay the rent, feed the poor or save the whales. if you like.
Better yet, get these books and learn how to critically think: The Demon Haunted World or Flim-Flam

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bird of Prey


Bird of Prey
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Ok. I know my blog has become a shameless promotion for my flickr site.

Last night my flickr site topped 3000 views!!!! I'm so cool. "And if you disagree with me, then you sir are worse than Hitler" -Greg Gutfeld (host of Fox's RedEye)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ghosts in the woods


Ghosts in the woods
Originally uploaded by Mully410

This is now the second most popular pic on my flickr site.  117 views as of today.

I believe that this is typical of most "ghost" pictures. I was standing such that a beam of light landed right on my lens. I produced this cool looking flare. What does it look like to you? It really is simply a blob of reflected light. I have a shot right next to this one where I moved about a foot to reduce the flare.

Training bugs is something I have to learn how to do. Bugs flying or moving across camera lenses produce most of the other, so called, ghost shots.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pareidolia Anyone? 2


Pareidolia Anyone?
Originally uploaded by Mully410

(redacted). Since then, it has the most views on my photostream. 60 views as of right now. You might be wondering what the hell "pareidolia" means. Go here to learn more.
Here is a funny rip on pareidolia.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stats for My Flickr Account

's buddy icon Yesterday, I posted "Pareidolia Anyone?" on the Skepchick Flickr page. Now its number 1.

YesterdayThis weekLast weekAll time
Photos and Videos 603581531,580
Photostream 75167811
Sets 366151
Collections 01546
704162312,588



More CO2 info and some Campaign Finance details

CO2 Update:

Here is a follow up to my essay How much CO2 is a lot of CO2?

Found this neat little web site: http://cdiac.end.ornl.gov/pns/faq_othr.html (our tax dollars hard at work)

Q. How much carbon dioxide is exhaled with each breath?

A. According to the text "Biology" by Claude A. Villee (Third Edition, W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia and London, copyright 1957), a person at rest inhales and exhales about 500 ml with each breath. That air consists of 150 ml of recently inhaled air that is in the larger air passages (where no exchange of gases between the lungs and blood stream occurs) and 350 ml of air that has been in the alveoli of the lungs. Thus, 150 ml of the 500 ml may be considered atmospheric air (approximately 0.04% carbon dioxide by volume), and 350 ml of the 500 ml may be considered alveolar air (approximately 5.3% carbon dioxide by volume). The average carbon dioxide content of the 500 ml of exhaled air is thus:

[(150 ml)/(500 ml) x 0.04% CO2] + [(350 ml)/(500 ml) x 5.3% CO2] = 3.7% CO2 by volume, which is equivalent to 5.7% CO2 by weight.

22.4 L of air at standard temperature and pressure has a mass of about 28.5 g (the difference in the average molecular weight of atmospheric and alveolar air is trivial, despite the differences in percent nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor), so 500 ml of air has a mass of about 0.636 g. The 5.7% of this mass that is carbon dioxide would therefore would weigh about 0.037 g (equivalent to about 0.010 g of carbon). [RMC]

Q. What is the annual amount of CO2 that a mature tree will absorb (e.g., deciduous red oak vs. evergreen blue spruce)?

A. A mature tree absorbs no NET CO2 over the course of a year. What it takes up in photosynthesis, it loses in respiration and decay. [GM]

Even more information on CO2 is available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide

Campaign Media Spending:

I saw this article today.

A study by the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin at Madison says the campaigns will spend a combined $30 million a week on ads between now and Election Day, the vast majority negative.

What would you do with $30M to spend each week?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2300+ Views of my great photos!


New TCAAP Trail - Osprey Nest
Originally uploaded by Mully410

For some reason, this is the most popular photo on my flickr site. 21 views so far. One of my very uninteresing deer videos is number 2 with 20 views. Go figure. The new photo of the old bike at the farm is gaining fast.

Thanks everyone.

Yesterday. I had 159 views. Today. 56. I've recently joined a bunch of flickr groups and started posting my pics in them. Its really increaseed the traffic. 2376 views as ot yesterday!

I'm going for 10,000, so keep clickin!

MPR: Campaign 2008: Television Ad Spending

Here is a link that's a good follow up to my media poll essay. MPR has been keeping track of who is spending what on TV time in our market. They have some great data. Lots of $$$ being spent. Lots of revenue for TV stations...

MPR: Campaign 2008: Television Ad Spending

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Swans at Dusk


Swans at Dusk
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I saw the swans again tonight. All 7 flew toward me then veered off toward turtle lake. A few minutes later 3 came back and did wide circles around the lake, honking all the way. Two would land and honk a bunch while the other circled. Once the odd-swan-out would land the other two would take off. It was a lot like a couple kids teasing a third kid on a playground. They all appear fully white and full grown now. I suppose they'll be heading south any time now.

This is an old pic. I tried to get some pics tonight, but it was pretty dark and difficult. I'll work on them to see if I can post a reasonable one on flickr.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More information about Polls

Here is an article at one of my favorite blogs, Junkfoodscience. I swear I didn't know she was going to write about polls today. "This is about polls masquerading as medical research." There is a lot of technical information and links in this article. Check it out to learn more about surveys and polls. Learn to think skeptically.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Media Bias in Polls?

I was watching some "news" on the boobtube today, and I had a thought. I don't remember the story the talking head was rambling about, but I remember the ticker at the bottom on the screen. The ticker mentioned that the Obama/Biden campaign had spent some of their campaign funds on 30 minutes of airtime from a couple networks. Now, that's a lot of prime time on a network. The last time someone did that, as far as I can remember, was billionaire Ross Perot back in 1991. One sure way to the American voter's short attention span, credulous heart is through his TV.

According to Open Secrets.org, the McCain campaign has raised almost $240M and the Obama campaign has raised $460M. For giggles, the next highest fund raising campaign is that of Ralph Nader (I) at $3M. McCain held to his promise to adhere to the rules to receive public financing. Obama, on the other hand, changed his mind, and is not abiding by the limits (lots of rich Hollywood liberals). I digress...the main purpose of this post is to talk about the media.

So, we have almost a billion dollars available to fund these campaigns not including the hundreds of millions being spent by special interest groups and the parties. Now, I realize that some of the money is spent on staff salaries, telemarketing, direct mail, get out the vote drives, food and travel expenses. I'm not sure exactly how much of this billion will be spent on television and newspaper advertising. Let's estimate that half of the campaign money is going to be spent on media, $500M, and that same amount is going to be spent on media by other groups for the presidential election. That will give us a billion to spend on TV ads. I have no idea if this number is correct, but I figure it's a pretty safe bet that WAY more is going to be spent. I saw one watchdog web site that said $4.5B will be spent on paper direct mailings alone. They didn't cite their sources, so I won't quote them here. Let's go with a cool billion for the media.

Ok, so now imagine yourself the owner of small or mid market TV station such as KSTP or WCCO here in Minneapolis. WCCO just laid off their expensive meteorologist and has mentioned that it will be real expensive to upgrade their local sets and camera to HD format. I can only assume that KSTP is in same boat. They are owned by Hubbard who is notorious as a cheap skate (have you seen their Viking's preseason coverage?).

If you are still with me....keep imagining that we are a small time TV station that needs money in the worst way, during a presidential campaign that is going to spend $1B on media. Hmmm. What do we do? We definitely want a share of this money. We already know that campaigns want to spend their money efficiently by targeting the states where they have a good chance to win. I think it was McCain that recently pulled out of Michigan. and Obama pulled out of North Dakota a while ago. Turns out the TV stations in those states are now fucked. No presidential campaign money for them. It should be obvious that we want to be in a highly contested market where both sides think they can win. A few weeks ago, here in Minnesota, the polls (media polls) show Obama and McCain in a statistical dead heat. The stories by the reporters also reflected this close battle. Within the last 2 weeks, both campaigns have dramatically increased their TV ads. I've even noticed that the commercial breaks during the "news" are longer by about 1-2 minutes and are almost all campaign ads...one right after the other. Sometimes it's hard to tell who "approved" what message because they are back to back.

Back in September, I received a phone call from a KSTP computer for a poll they were running. There was obvious bias in the methodology of this poll. The questions were all multiple choice...press 1 for Democratic candidate, press 2 for Republican and 3 for Independent or 4 for other. The bias was that after each question, the "press 1" answer was always a Democrat. This single call I received does not constitute a scientific analysis. That computer could be randomizing the order of the answers on a per call basis without my knowledge. I doubt it, but its plausible. So anyway, a poll like that will bias impatient Republicans and Independents to hang up prematurely.

In summary, lots of money will be spent on television advertising. TV stations are well motivated to capture as much of that as they can. There are polls with bias being conducted.

My question is: Can we trust a poll, or the reporting for that matter, by a local media outlet desperate for cash, who we know is going to make huge money on a contested election and nothing on a sure thing election?

Think about who is running the poll, who is talking about the poll, and what the error and bias could be in the poll. Look up the pollsters, try to find the actual questions.

One last caveat: imagine all the congressional campaigns, state campaigns and some local campaigns that are spending money this year.

PS: Years ago I received a call from a live person doing a poll. This person asked if I was in favor of killing babies. I said, of course I'm against killing babies (without good reason anyway). A few days later, a Minnesota "pro-life" group announced that they ran a poll that showed 90 something percent of Minnesotans were against abortion. (BTW who are the 1-9% who were in favor of baby killing?...)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Read up before you vote...you dope.

Here are some links to all the "other" political parties. I almost never see any coverage of anyone other than the Democrat and Republican candidates (Last week, I did see an article about the crazy woman running for the Green Party)

Ok now I'm tired of cutting and pasting the rest. There are about 20 more parties you can view here. This link has short descriptions of them along with their weblinks. I'm not sure how many of these parties have Presidential candidates...

Good luck with your search. There is something here for everyone.

Moon Over Marsden


Moon Over Marsden
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Woohoo. My flickr page just passed 2000 total views which is a about 700 views of my photostream with over 1300 views of various pictures and videos.

My photos rock!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Windmill of Death


Windmill of Death
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I find it ironic that the "green" movements is so bent on "sustainable" energy. I'm not sure what "sustainable" means but Brian Dunning has a good idea. It sure isn't good for bats. I've read that the mystery is pretty much solved already. Its the vortices's created by the turbine's blades. This article explains:

"Ninety percent of the bats they examined after death showed signs of internal hemorrhaging consistent with trauma from the sudden drop in air pressure (a condition known as barotrauma) at turbine blades. Only about half of the bats showed any evidence of direct contact with the blades."

Thanks to the SGU podcast for this tidbit.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Funniest Onion Ever!

Evolutionists Flock To Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain
While you read this substitute the word "Evolutionists" with the religion of your choice and replace "Darwin" with the god/prophet/saint of your choice and you'll get a perfect reproduction of stories we see in the mass media pretty regularly.

Owls Get Hungry too


Great Horned Owl
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I was at the MN State Fair and got some great shots at a great show. The U of MN Raptor Center brought out a bunch of raptors and told us all about them. This set shows a Great Horned Owl eating a whole mouse. I took a series of photos that are pretty popular on my Flickr site. The mouse was already dead so there isn't really any gore. Go here and click on the slideshow button in the upper right side then enjoy.

Thanks to the Raptor Center volunteer who stood in front of me so I could get these great photos. There are more raptor photos in my misc bird set within my birds collection.

PS: Over 600 views as of today!

Interesting Science Stuff about Earth and Stupid People

My favorite blogger, The Bad Astronomer, hit on another good one today. Click here to learn 10 things about earth you probably didn't know.

Have you been following the coverage on the Large Hadron Collider? Its about to fire up sometime tomorrow. I'm very disappointed but not shocked that media has f'd this whole story up. Go here to learn the science about it. The world is going to end for some people tomorrow just like it does every day but the is not going to end for everyone like these jokers are proclaiming. The thing that really pisses me off is the media (mostly foxnews.com) are giving time to the freaky fringe "scientists" and their ignorance.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Are All Fat People Responsible for their own Fat-ness?

I've been following the Junkfood Science Blog for a couple years now and have learned a lot about the science of obesity. Most of the real science and valid clinical research buck the "conventional wisdom" or "common sense" that people spew forth on a daily basis. We are constantly bombarded with crap about health weights, BMIs, good food and bad foods. Unfortunately, people are as apathetic about their health news as they are about their politics. Whatever the favored talking head says in the 30 second sound bite is good enough for most people. Well, lucky for us, science doesn't survive on sound bites.

Given all that, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this story on one of my favorite programs: Nova Science Now! They interview a couple leading scientists that are studying obesity. These scientists have proven research to indicate that some super fat people have genetic anomalies that prevent them from feeling full. Certain receptors in their brains are unable to receive the proper chemical triggers that signal their brain that they are full. This is only one genetic reason for obesity. They do go on to say that the most important factor that determines the shape and size of our bodies is our genes.

Don't take my word for it and don't rely on one blogger's report either. Do your own research. Look for independent sources. Read the studies.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Over 500 views on my Flickr Page!!!




Today, my Flickr page received its 500th view. If you haven't been clicking and viewing on my site, you are missing out.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Monarch on Red Flower


Monarch on Red Flower
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I got a lot of great photos this weekend. Check out my flickr page.

Lots of butterflies and some cool deer photos and videos. Plus some interesting flowers I hadn't seen before today.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Do you think political campaign are getting dirtier every year?

You might be in for shock but political campaign are not at their dirtiest. They may be getting dirtier in recent years but that's nothing compared to some of the dirtiest campaigns. Even our esteemed Founding Fathers dug out the dirt and slung the mud. See this article for some interesting notes from the Jefferson-Adams campaign and the Jackson-Adams campaigns.

Jackson simply made up stories about John Quincy Adams procuring prostitutes for the Russian Czar. Adams pointed out that Jackson's wife was married when she ran off with Jackson. I guess now-a-days this kind of philandering would be a badge of honor but back then it was a big deal.

And if all else failed, campaigns simply said their opponent died. Back then it could take months to get word out to everyone so the campaigns just printed up slander just before the election so their opponent couldn't respond.

Funny...in a sad kinda way.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pareidolia Anyone?


Pareidolia Anyone?
Originally uploaded by Mully410

This is simple a picture of two holes and joint between two boards. What do you see? Pareidolia is one of my favorite words. Look it up on Wikipedia.

Then read Carl Sagan's book The Demon Haunted World to learn more. Then go to my flickr page and click on a bunch of stuff.

Comcast Email Issue Solved

So I've spent the last 3 weeks with comcast tech support, MS tech support and on an MS usenet group trying to solve an issue. About 3 weeks ago my emails stopped sending to the outside world. I could send between my 3 comcast email accounts but could get emails to my yahoo address or my work email address. Plus, nobody I know got any of my emails. We tried everything: Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Comcast's web client and Mozilla's Thunderbird. I got a couple emails out of Thunderbird right when I installed but then they stopped sending. Very strange.

Finally, I got a strange voicemail at work today. A comcast techy called and said that my signature was over 100 characters so "some servers" blocked them. Ok, I was willing to try anything at that point so I deleted my signatures with my blog address and my flickr photo address. Lo and behold, emails will now send. I'm not sure if its actually a 100 characters as the problem, I think it’s the web links. I've tried test emails to yahoo and my office and nothing with a web address will send but every simple email I send works fine. Must be some new anti spam thingy they have.

Have you heard of anything so stupid?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where do you get your health news?

This is a great post to help you think critically about who is making health decisions for you. Sandy provides tons of great links for further reading.

Do we really think politicians know what's best for our health? They do such a good job running everything else so maybe they are right.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bigfoot Part 2

As I predicted in my previous post, the bigfoot people are full it. They won't show anyone the "body" they found. They won't let any actual scientist examine their data. They don't provide a chain of custody for their DNA samples which, by the way, didn't show any unknown primate DNA.

Ironically, real scientists discovered a new bird in Indonesia. They likely followed the same procedures as any real scientist: discovery, documentation, peer review, publication and more peer review. This is how you discover things and make people aware of them.

Think skeptically.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bigfoot Found?

I saw this article on Foxnews.com today. Two men are claiming that they have a body of a "big foot." Now, this would be real cool. It would be the first real evidence that can be scientifically examined and verified. I'm all for finding a bigfoot or an alien but so far the only "evidence" anyone can produce are blurry photos and sketchy eyewitness accounts. This is not sufficient for their extraordinary claims.

Here are my predictions:
1. This is a hoax. I think its highly probable that this bigfoot body isn't real. If there was a sustainable population of primates in remote areas of our country, we should have lots and lots of bodies, feces, hair, foot prints, etc... (not to mention quality pictures since everyone has a camera now-a-days).

2. These men will not let real scientists such as anthropologists, biologists and DNA experts examine their find.

3. If the examination of the evidence by qualified scientists produces a result other than a bigfoot, the true believers will label it a conspiracy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What can we see on the Moon?

Have you ever wondered why we can't see the landers and rovers we left on the Moon with Hubble or similar telescopes? Phil, the Bad Astronomer. does a great job explaining that here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Comcast Email Sucks!

To whom it may concern,

For some reason, Comcast is no longer able to send my emails from Windows Live Mail. I spent about an hour with their chat tech support the other day. They finally stated that they are doing an "upgrade" to their email stuff. Funny. While they are upgrading, my emails won't send. I have to use their webmail client if I want to send anything. Even more funny. Emails sent from the webmail client don't always send either.

So far, I think I'm receiving all your great emails. Who knows though...

I have no idea when this send issue started. The last email I sent that someone said they received was around 7-27-08

Later,

Mully410

UPDATE

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Neuroscience and Magic?

This article will really make your brain hurt if you are not smart. Attention and awareness in stage magic: turning tricks into research from Nature Review - Neuroscience.

Its written, in part, by James Randi and Teller (of Penn and Teller fame). Here is an abstract: "Just as vision scientists study visual art and illusions to elucidate the workings of the visual system, so too can cognitive scientists study cognitive illusions to elucidate the underpinnings of cognition. Magic shows are a manifestation of accomplished magic performers' deep intuition for and understanding of human attention and awareness. By studying magicians and their techniques, neuroscientists can learn powerful methods to manipulate attention and awareness in the laboratory. Such methods could be exploited to directly study the behavioural and neural basis of consciousness itself, for instance through the use of brain imaging and other neural recording techniques."

I think it would be a great idea for neuroscience researchers to incorporate magic and illision into their studies. Even the smartest people can be fooled by magic.

Thanks to the Skepchicks for this heads up.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Favorite Pod Cast!

If you haven't entered the world of podcasting yet, you are really missing out. I didn't really get into them until I got an IPOD Nano but you don't really need an IPOD to listen to podcasts.

My favorite pod cast is The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe. You can download and listen from their website or you can sign up on iTunes and have them automatically downloaded to you computer. SGU is basically a talk show lead by Dr. Steven Novella. They often analyze the latest popular headlines with skepticism, scientific method and humor. They will make you smarter.

If you have a short attention span, check out Skeptoid. Brian Dunning has short 10-15 min podcasts on the latest popular headlines and woo. I've referred to Brian's movie in this previous post.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Red Bug Sex


Red Bug Sex
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Woo Hoo someone finally picked one of my photos as one of their favorites. Very cool. I have little idea who they are since I can't read their language. Click here to visit their flickr page.

Go to my flickr site by clicking here. If you sign up using your yahoo id, you'll be able to see a special set of my pictures...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pretty Cool Day!


Flapping Loon
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I think I had the coolest visit to the TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area tonight. This picture is of a Loon that flexed his wings for me (it was likely a "he" because the little loon was hanging with the other adult off to the left of this one.out of frame). I zoomed in pretty far with the editing. The original shot has 2 adult trumpeter swans with their 5 cygnets.

The coolest part of today's visit was the otters. At least I think they were otters. I watched 3 of them swimming and diving for about 40 minutes. They were pretty far away for my binoculars but it sure looked like they would dive down then come up on their backs and reach their hands up to their faces. They were shiny black or brown. They weren't beavers... too small and wrong habitat. They weren't muskrats either...too long and muskrats don't dive like they did. I'm going to do some research but I'm almost certain they were otters. (maybe Mink?) (8-7-08 Update: I spoke to our city forester/environmental officer today. He said he picked up a dead river otter near Marsden Lake a couple years ago. That's enough confirmation for me.)

I tried to get some pics of them but none turned out. I need a gigantic expensive lens for that, I guess.

At one point, I had the 3 otters, 7 swans and 2 deer in my field of view. Just off to the left a little bit were an adult loon, little loon and 2 osprey. More of my great pictures here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

8Swans3


8Swans3
Originally uploaded by Mully410

I've been watching these swans grow up all summer. In this shot, there are 6 cygnets (baby swans) with the 2 adults. Last week, I saw all 8 again on Monday but on Tuesday there were only 5 cygnets with the 2 adults. I think something got a free meal overnight. So far this week, I haven't seen any swans. That's not all that unusual. Marsden lake is mostly floating bogs so it changes it configuration every day. They could be on the other side of lake out of view.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

If you're fat, you're fucked.

Sandi hits another home run with this analysis of another shitty job of reporting.

Of course, its well documented that if you feed people rice and water or bugs and rats far below what they need, they will lose weight. You can see that on shows like Survivor or watch old concentration camp footage on the Hitler Channel. Is this healthy? Read the research! Sandi has links all over her posts to the original data and other posts she's made.

My Favorite Astrophysicist

Neil Degrasse Tyson is my favorite Astrophysicist. He is super smart, so that's a plus. He is also host of the best show on public TV: Nova Science Now He recently gave a talk at TAM6 (The Amazing Meeting) sponsored by the JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation). I'd like to go to the next TAM.

Anyway, in this video, Tyson talks about many of the greatest scientific minds (think Newton.) He explains that even the smartest of the smart people can reach a point where they can explain things with their science. Often these great minds will then attribute the unexplained to a divine power of some kind (ie...god, God, Allah, Yawah, Jehovah, Thor, Ra). Luckily for us, more smart people come along to figure out what they couldn't.

Go here: tinyurl.com/68d5q8 and you'll get smarter.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Coyote


Coyote2
Originally uploaded by Mully410

My first experimental post from my Flickr account. This is so cool.

Guide to Critical Thinking

This probably should have been my first post. Its good video by fellow skeptic, Brian Dunning. Brian provides some basic tools for critically thinking about anything.

It really is a must see for anyone who wants to be smarter.

Tornados are cool unless they kill you.

Since I'm a Metro Skywarn weather spotter, I know a little bit more about scary weather than most people.

This video contains two elements I find interesting...stupid people and tornados. It is, by far, the coolest tornado video I've seen and I've seen a lot of them.

Theory of Gravity - Evangelical Refute

I'm constantly amazed by people who don't understand logic and critical thinking. This article is fake news but still is a good example of the logic that creationists use to refute natural selection and evolution.

Junkfood Science Blog Rocks!

Whenever you see a new scary headline about health go here. Sandi is really smart. She doesn't just spew bullshit either. She almost always links to the original studies and sources. It will take some brains to comprehend all the science so if you are stupid, don't bother. Stick to Oprah and the rest of the talking heads on TV.

Here is a good primer on how to think.

For example, when someone you knows starts running off at the mouth about the dangers of "processed" food and nitrate/nitrites in food see this post.

Astrology is Crap

Here is another good example of why astrologers are stupid.

Phil is one of my favorite bloggers. He is real smart.

First Post

This is the place where I will post examples of smart things and the real stories behind stupid people. I'll also post interesting links on subjects only smart people will be able to comprehend.

If you are stupid you probably don't want to read this blog, but then again maybe you won't be able to stop reading it.

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