Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mully410 Flickr Photostream Hits 50,000 Views

50000 views (click pic to embiggen)
Originally uploaded by Mully410

50,000 views. Wow. I never thought there would be so many people interested in my photography. Thanks for viewing.

This photo below is the most viewed photo with 2253 views. It's titled "Old Naked Statue." Flickr stats show that many of the views of this photo come from searches for "Old Naked." Kinda creepy, if I think about it too deeply:

Old Naked Statue (3)

This Photo of Moon, Venus and Jupiter is my "most interesting" photo according to Flickr. Not sure how they calculate that, but this photo has been favorited 8 times, 396 views and has 13 comments. I think it's interesting because I rotated this photo 180 degrees in order to show the frowny face.

Sad Face (Moon Jupiter and Venus)

And last but not least...nobody has viewed this photo yet:

Yellow Cone Flower

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beware the Spinal Trap - Simon Singh - Chiropractic Therapy

Looks like I'm jumping on the band wagon on this issue. Simon Singh is one of the authors of Trick or Treatment. He is currently being sued by British Chiropractic Association. Go to the Science Reason and Critical Thinking blog for the whole story. Also see this great article by Dr. Novella at the NESS.

If you are thinking about chiropractic treatment for whatever ails you, please read my previous post and read the story below.

Here is the obligatory repost of Simon's article:

Beware the Spinal Trap

Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the research suggests chiropractic therapy has mixed results – and can even be lethal, says Simon Singh.
You might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that “99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae”. In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.
In fact, Palmer’s first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.
You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact some still possess quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything, including helping treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying – even though there is not a jot of evidence.
I can confidently label these assertions as utter nonsense because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.
But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.
In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.
More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.
Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.
Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: “Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck.”
This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Edzard Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.
If spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.

Simon Singh is a science writer in London and the co-author, with Edzard Ernst, of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial. This is an edited version of an article published in The Guardian for which Singh is being personally sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association.

Twin Cities Skeptics - Mesmeric Trance State - August 3rd

The Twin Cities Skeptics are hosting an interesting talk on Monday August 3rd. This month's speaker is Dr. David T. Schmit from the Psychology Department at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

Here is a snippet:
Given that I am talking to the skeptics, I would like to describe some of the ways that the mesmeric trance state was employed in emerging 19th century discourse addressing the nature and legitimacy of religious experience. I would like to tell the story of La Roy Sunderland, a key figure in American mesmerism, who began his career as a Methodist revival preacher, became an itinerant mesmerist, and eventually a freethinking atheist.
Go ahead and email your RSVP for this event to Jerry at: and check out Minneapolis Skeptics Meet-Up Group for more details.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

International Space Station and Space Shuttle Endeavour Slide Show

I got to catch the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavour flyby over my neighborhood last night. Here is a slide show:

This will look best in full screen.

There is another good opportunity to view the ISS and Shuttle Endeavour tonight. Look to the north again, just under the north star (Polaris). They will pass between 10:12pm CDT and 10:22pm. This sighting will be a little higher in the sky than last nights.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

See Shuttle Endeavour and International Space Station Tonight

For those of you in the upper midwest, the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Endeavour will be visible tonight. Provided there are no clouds, you'll be able to see them pass from west to east in the northern sky on a line that will pass between the horizon and the north star, Polaris.

This mission for Endeavour is called STS-127. They are connecting another module to the International Space Station. There are currently 13 people on ISS so be sure to wave as they fly by.

For us here in Minnesota, the ISS and Shuttle will be visible beginning at 9:47pm CDT through 9:57pm CDT. The ISS and Shuttle make one complete orbit around earth in about 90 minutes. That's about 17,500 miles per hour relative to us.

It looks like the next pass begins at 11:22pm CDT to 11:33pm CDT. This pass will appear to go straight up beginning from North West horizon and will proceed towards the end of the handle on the Big Dipper.

Go to NASA's Human Space Flight (HSF) Realtime Data site to plug in your location and search for your own sightings.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Amazing Meeting 7 - Flickr Photo Group

SGU Gang Day 2 (2)
SGU Gang - Day 2 (2)

I created a Flickr photo group where all of us TAM7 attendees can post pics. This will give those poor souls that could not attend this year something to pine for.

Go here to share your pics:

James Randi at The Amazing Meeting 7 - Day 1 Welcoming Speech

If I had thought about a proper chronology for my TAM7 posts, I would have put this one up first.

It's a short video I made at the kickoff party the first night of The Amazing Meeting. I just happened to be near the door that James "The Amazing" Randi used to enter the event. He stopped for a minute or so and gave us a brief intro. Just previous to Randi's speech, we were informed that he is recovering from an ailment of some kind and were asked not to shake his hand lest he get some germs from us. I suspect he is probably on some immunosuppressive drugs of some kind now.

Here is a link to YouTube, if you can't view it from my blog.

Bill Prady at TAM7 - Skeptics Need to Be Sensitive to People's Beliefs

To many of the people I know, the word "skeptic" is synonymous with "asshole." I know I'm guilty of representing that stereotype, as those who know me can attest. I am working on it but it's a slow process that I know has little chance of changing those who have already decided what I am.

One thing that really impressed me about The Amazing Meeting 7 was that many of the speakers and presenters are also trying to fight the "asshole" stigma of skepticism. There really is a time and place for ripping people about their ridiculous beliefs...think anti-vaxers for example. However, in order to be more effective skeptics and better people in general, we would be wise to be more sensitive to beliefs we do not share.

Bill Prady, executive producer and creator of the CBS show The Big Bang Theory, really put it best in his keynote address at The Amazing Meeting 7. Here is a snippet that was posted by the great Boston Skeptics group.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Amazing Meeting 7 - Photographic Documentation

Where Orbs Come From Day 2

I just got back from The Amaz!ng Meeting 7 which was held in Las Vegas this past weekend. I had a wonderful time. It was so full of awesome that I'm very tired. I've taken some notes from the various workshops, panels and presentations and hope to start a (short) series of post over the next week or so.

Despite my tiredness, I've just completed culling 76 fairly decent photos from the 200+ I took during the event. If you are regular reader here, you probably already know that I don't specialize in people pictures. In fact, I much prefer bugs, flowers and landscapes as my photography subjects.

The picture above was quite interesting given the whole focus of the conference. I found it fitting that I finally have proof of where those pesky orbs original.

Below is a direct link to the slideshow for my TAM7 pics or you can click on the pretty butterfly on the right sidebar to get to my Photostream directly.

Click the four little dots on the lower right side for the full screen slideshow. You can also click the "show description" button for the file names. Please comment on the photos within Flickr.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Some Evidence on Goverment Funded Healthcare

Falling Down Sign

Personally, I'd like to see government exit all aspects of my health. I fail to see much evidence that government can be as effective and efficient as other options. It surely won't cost less cost.

Here is a snippet from Junkfood Science Blog:

The Massachusetts Experiment

Readers will remember when Massachusetts signed the nation’s first state universal health insurance program into law. This program was to be the test ground to see how universal health coverage by the government would work here in the United States. “This is the healthcare plan seen by many as a model that could be replicated around the country,” the Boston Globe noted yesterday.

The VA Example

The American Legion, which visits and inspects Veteran’s Administration health centers, reported that doctors at a facility in Pennsylvania gave 92 veterans incorrect radiation doses for treatment of prostate cancer, and that 53 veterans were possibly infected with hepatitis and HIV from unsterilized equipment at three VA health centers in Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.

Please read the full post: Real life evidence --government funded healthcare.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My Best Fireworks Pics - Independence Day July 4, 2009

Here is a set of my 46 best fireworks shots. This slide show looks best when viewed in full screen (click the four dots in a square in the lower right corner of the frame after you start the slide show by clicking the triangle).

Keep in mind that this display was not organized or sponsored by any government entity. This was just bunch of rich people on a lake trying to out do each other. It peaked for about 2 hours but continued intermittently for many more. I rode my bike, had plenty of space and didn't have to fight traffic or pay for parking. Awesome!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday America

Lake Fireworks
Originally uploaded by Mully410

Happy Independence Day! Be safe and keep in mind the sacrifices that people have made for your freedom for the last 233 years.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wave at the Space Men

ISS July 4

For those of you in Minnesota, particularly the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, the International Space Station will be making some passes overhead this weekend. It makes an orbit about every 90 minutes and sometimes is passes over us, here in the mid-west.

I think the most convenient time to catch this brief show will be on Saturday July 4. The ISS will streak by in the northern sky just under the north star, Polaris at exactly between 1:16 and 1:19 AM. That means early morning Saturday NOT after the fireworks Saturday night. It's very bright, almost as bright as the brightest Venus and moves very fast and steady. Click on the pic above to embiggen and to see a map and some numbers. Don't forget to wave as they go by.

If you want detailed flyby times in your area go to Bad Astronomer's post on it or go to this page for Shoreview, MN. (yes, I know I could post all the links myself but Phil deserves the extra traffic) Also, check out My Favorite Essential Astonomy Sites.

Critical Thinking Club of St. Paul Meeting July 12.

Although I often enjoy CTC meetings on Sunday mornings, I can make this one because I'll be at The Amaz!ng Meeting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are the details:

Critical Thinking Club, St. Paul Chapter

Location: Kelly Inn, Rice Street and I-94

Date: July 12, 2009

Time: 10:00 a.m. to Noon

Presenter: Todd Torkelson

Subject: “The Confederate Flag.”

Breakfast Buffet $10.00 Coffee only $3.00. We need to plan for the room setup and meal, so if you are going to attend, please RSVP to

This month we will be applying our critical thinking skills to the controversial topic of the Confederate Flag. For some it evokes pride in southern culture and heritage. For others it evokes trauma of slavery and racism. With more states removing the emblem from their flags and Confederate monuments being vandalized, is this a symbol of heritage or hate? To answer this question we will take an in-depth look at the evolution of America including slavery, the involvement of Africa and Europe, social attitudes towards race and the politics that ultimately tore apart the nation during the Civil War. We will hear a compilation of arguments for and against the flag, and conclude with a Q&A session and discussion.

Todd Torkelson is a graduate of St. Olaf College with a bachelors degree in Psychology and American Racial Multicultural Studies. For him, history is more than a hobby but less than a career as he is currently in the process of returning to the IT field. Originally born and raised in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, after graduation Todd moved up to St. Paul in 1997 "for the weather" as he puts it. He is involved in the Minneapolis Skeptics group, fiction writing groups and the Minnesota Atheists organization.

Join the CTC Facebook Group here.

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