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

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: (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:

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, 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 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 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 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!

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