Thursday, June 7, 2012

Our Wacky World—6/7/2012

"Taking the Demon Test® may be the most important spiritual decision you make. This Test is the result of more than 30 years of research and thousands of hours in personal ministry with troubled souls. Through this vast experience we have been able to design this test so that we may quickly determine an individual's spiritual condition."

It seems as if everyone is dying this week. Now the "Trololo" guy has died. He was still kicking earlier this year. Meanwhile, FaceBook is zucking us up:

"I call this shift from the private to the public self 'digital narcissism.' Behind the communitarian veil of social media, we have fallen in love with ourselves. But this is a super sad love story. Because the more we self-broadcast, the emptier we become; and the emptier we become, the more we need to self-broadcast."

"The local Catholics spotted water dripping from a crucifix in Mumbai’s western suburbs. They eagerly lapped up the 'miracle water', thinking it had magical powers. Sanal Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Association and Rationalist International, inspected the site and pinpointed the source of the water. A leaking toilet drain."

"The Catholic Church has released, for the first time in English, its rules for figuring out whether a claimed apparition of the Virgin Mary, or a message allegedly received from the Virgin Mary, is genuine or not."

Just another keynote address at a convention of skeptics and then...WTF??
How about a better spelling checker?
"A minute or so later, I had a 'wait… what?' moment, then flipped the card over and looked at it not peripherally to discover I had not been handed a business card, but a card with a naked photo of the two of them, with their information on how to contact them should I want to fuck."

"No writer who misspells 'vagina-desiccating' is safe in bringing up the notion of shame. Nor does his invention of this phrase show much familiarity with the vagina. I have never encountered a desiccated vagina in my life. Have you?"
Roger Ebert

"When Last activated the jammer, the ship went haywire. According to the electronic display on the ship's bridge, the Galatea was suddenly flying at Mach speeds over northern Europe and Ireland. Then alarms sounded. The ship's navigation backup – its gyrocompass – crashed, because it uses GPS to provide corrections. The radar did the same. Even the ship's satellite communications failed, because GPS points the antenna in the right direction. 'The crew were well trained and briefed, so they knew what was going on,' says Last. 'But, like us, they were surprised.'"
New Scientist

"This is starting to sound a lot like the Unification Church’s document called A Cloud of Witnesses, wherein they claim that the dead founders of all the world’s religions, along with nearly every great leader in history, met in the “spirit world” to declare that the Rev. Moon was the true savior of mankind. It’s one of the most insane things ever written, but this is just as crazy."
Dispatches From The Culture Wars

“When there is violence it’s going to be Jesse Jackson’s fault... It’s going to be Al Sharpton’s fault. It’s going to be Louis Farrakhan’s fault, and to a certain degree it’s going to be President Obama’s fault.”

"it confirms that both the US and Israeli governments developed and deployed Stuxnet. The goal of the worm was to break Iranian nuclear centrifuge equipment by issuing specific commands to the industrial control hardware responsible for their spin rate. By doing so, both governments hoped to set back the Iranian research program—and the US hoped to keep Israel from launching a pre-emptive military attack."
Ars Technica

"Critics decried the creation of a fake Wikipedia page as digital vandalism. 'Things like that really, really, really annoy me,' fumed founder Jimmy Wales, comparing it to dumping trash in the streets to test the willingness of a community to keep it clean. But the indignation may, in part, have been compounded by the weaknesses the project exposed. Wikipedia operates on a presumption of good will. Determined contributors, from public relations firms to activists to pranksters, often exploit that, inserting information they would like displayed. The sprawling scale of Wikipedia, with nearly four million English-language entries, ensures that even if overall quality remains high, many such efforts will prove successful. 

"Last January, as he prepared to offer the class again, Kelly put the Internet on notice. He posted his syllabus and announced that his new, larger class was likely to create two separate hoaxes. He told members of the public to 'consider yourself warned--twice.' This time, the class decided not to create false Wikipedia entries. Instead, it used a slightly more insidious stratagem, creating or expanding Wikipedia articles on a strictly factual basis, and then using their own websites to stitch together these truthful claims into elaborate hoaxes."
The Atlantic

Don't bother, honey
"Karen Boyle, a microsurgeon who specializes in labiaplasty at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, has apparently seen an influx of patients suffering from troubling symptoms of a disorder -- a disorder! – that she says may be caused by their trendy skinny jeans. ...this disorder is called Meralgia Paresthetica, and while it doesn’t pose a significant health risk, it’s good to know the No. 1 culprit: Tight jeans. 'Skinny jeans can compress one of the nerves in the outer part of the thigh and cause symptoms of numbness, tingling and discomfort'"

"[Prince Charles] seems to think that the nation should be force-fed on alternative medicine today, while research into these treatments might be conducted some time in the future. I, on the other hand, have often pointed out that research has to come first; it should sort out the wheat from the chaff and, subsequently, we might consider integrating those treatments that demonstrably generate more good than harm. I therefore think that the FIH has become a lobby group for unproven and disproven treatments populated by sycophants."
No shit. (Science Based Medicine)

"The Pre-Symposium Event also includes a naturopath named Paul Sanders who is also a certified Classical Homeopath and completed his 'chelation board examinations' from the International College of Integrated Medicine in 1998. Horror of horros, [sic] I had no idea that such a thing existed as “chelation board examinations.” One might as well say that Sanders is board-certified in quackery, particularly if he uses chelation therapy for autism or heart disease. Oh, wait. He’s a naturopath and a homeopath; so I guess he’d be board-certified in quackery regardless of whether he uses chelation therapy in his practice."
Respectful Insolence

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The truth and everything but the truth

It is often the case that "New Age" aficionados tend to drift from one thing to another, blithely ignoring the obvious disparity amongst then, now, and next. "Aliens", astral projection, refractive mineral specimens, necromancy, Chinese interior decoration, multiple mutually-exclusive systems of divination, bits and pieces of major and minor world religions, their own fevered imaginings and addictive fantasies of the End O' The World—in short, an admixture of unrelated and often incompatible beliefs, "lifestyles" and what passes with impunity as the truth, with the resultant collage, when viewed from a nominal distance, a shade of pseudo-color that can only be referred to as "brown".

In a mind-space where anything can BE at any given instant, practitioners of this wildly malleable yet mediocre art are often able to mix and blend within each other with remarkable ease. All the contradictions and pesky details are easily passed over; the lack of simple, basic clarity a given.

Fortunately for these highly mockable people there is the Internet, an unathoratative place where their disparate thoughts can coalesce into a false vacuum (Hawking radiation does not occur here; there is too much anti-gravity). Yesterday, I trained a long-jaundiced eye upon one of their hives of dissonance:

My Telekinesis

The sound you "hear" is that of unbridled ass, a form of noise that even the cleverest exponents of chaos theory have been unable to grapple. The shear variety of stuff at this crap-in boggles even the stoutest mind. Clicking a few links at random wanders you through a highly divergent, self-involved universe occasionally punctuated by threats of eternal damnation by passing followers of the cult of The Dead Man On A Stick™, who by definition know better than everyone else.

Others have remarked on this phenomenon. I quote from an article [dead link] by Robert McHenry, a former editor-in-chief of the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
"The central, unexpressed tenet of the Butterfly Theory is that the truth is ever-elusive. Like a butterfly, it flits from place to place, alighting perhaps for a moment here but then skittering over to there, never setting anywhere. It exists but can never be caught; it is glimpsed but never known. It is not even necessary that it have any content, that there be any there there. Its function is simply to beckon, like the maguffin in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. What makes the beckoning irresistible to multitudes follows from a second tenet of the theory, that the truth, whatever it may or may not be in substance, utterly charms. It is particolored and it shimmers; it is lovely to behold and even lovelier to imagine beholding. 
"So sublime is the charm of this sort of truth that each glimpse of it rewards and emboldens the beholder as powerfully as might actual possession of another, more robust sort of truth by a more skeptical sort of seeker. Those who succumb to this charm do so not merely willingly but eagerly."
The link to the article quoted above is dead. PM me for a copy.

As "Bob" once said:
"The SubGenius wants no part of the "New Age," it is already here and it obviously sucks."—SubGenius® Pamphlet #1
Or kill me.