Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Finding Bigfoot

Finding Bigfoot picture
DISCLAIMER: I have not watched the show!

However, I'm willing to bet, based on advertisements I saw, that it follows the same formula as Ghost Hunters and similar shows.
  1. Discuss rumors of a Bigfoot sighting.
  2. Go to general location of Bigfoot sighting.
  3. Talk to locals about Bigfoot rumors and get more specific directions to where Bigfoot was reported.
  4. Go out looking for Bigfoot or evidence of Bigfoot, but in the dark, with thermal cameras.
  5. Assume any fur, droppings, tree damage, strange noises, or other signs of animal life that cannot be immediately identified as coming from a bear, deer, or other common animal are irrefutable evidence of Bigfoot.
  6. Go home satisfied that Bigfoot is real and active in that area.
These are not shows that are really trying to prove anything. Their minds are made up.

If anyone watches Finding Bigfoot and thinks it doesn't fit the pattern, feel free to say so.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Balancing Baby?

I ran across this video recently:


Is the baby balancing? You can probably tell as well as I can that she's not. She stands up impressively straight, to be sure, but the man is doing all the work of keeping her balanced. I could do much the same thing with a baseball bat. As long as her center of gravity stays well above his hand, he has plenty of time to keep her from toppling.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Super Stuff

Starting with one especially for Nena.



Come to think of it, she'll like this one, too.


And I found even more Wonder Woman goodness.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

He Won't Be Kept Away


Re-spun trailers of old movies are always amusing.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Shark Troubles

Some of these scenes are pretty darned horrific.


But none of them compare to Sharknado! Yes, it truly is this bad. This clip is a total spoiler, by the way. You're warned.



The classics don't compare, either. They surpass in every way.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Relax

Enjoy this guided meditation.


Villains take note: he gives you one chance. If you refuse, things will go badly for you.

But wait, there's more!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ninjas!



Heroes was a show with tremendous potential, but they just kept dropping the ball when they got close to the goal line.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cats!

They are plotting to kill you!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Terror Squid

This is actually pretty awful, but it does have pirates and a giant squid.


Here's a better video. Am I not merciful?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

It's On!

I actually had a different video in mind for today, but it suddenly became non-imbedable.

Not to worry...


Mutants to the rescue.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

To the Bitter End

Of course there was no way I was going to go the whole month without a game video.


And I'll be nice and include something less video gamey.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fear Profits a Man Nothing

It is fitting, for the thirteenth.



"Hey, these Northmen are actually pretty cool... wait. What?"

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bad Reasons

I recently came across an article named "Why I Am a Six-Day Creationist". Of course I had to read it, and of course I wasn't really surprised by what it contained. What wisdom has this creationist brought us?

“I spent a couple of days this week speaking at a conference at the Creation Museum—my first time visiting it. Before I arrived I decided to put a little bit of thought into why I am a six-day creationist. I wanted to affirm in my own mind that I was walking into the museum already convinced of a position.”

I am filled with pity, loathing, and curiosity.

“I believe God created the world in six days—six literal twenty-four hour periods. I believe the earth is young—probably less than ten thousand years old. I have always believed this. But why? As I considered this position, I realized there are three main reasons I hold to it.”

And I expect to be disappointed by all of them.

“THE BIBLE TEACHES IT
The first reason I am a six-day creationist is this: I believe it is what the Bible teaches. There have been endless debates about the meaning of the word we translate as “day” in Genesis 1 and so much of the debate stands or falls right here. There have been many attempts, some of them quite compelling and some bordering on the ridiculous, to make it express something other than “day.” But in the end, I believe a natural reading of Scripture, and a natural reading of the author’s intent in the passage, leads to the most natural and obvious conclusion: God created all that exists, from nothing, in six literal days. This is what the author said, because this is what the author meant to convey, because this is what the author believed, because this is exactly how God did it.”

So, basically, you’re taking the Biblical text as accurate, no matter what other evidence exists? I realize that scientific estimates have gone up over time, but that’s because the evidence (over time) has revealed that the age of the Earth could not be “less than” a certain minimum age. There was never an upper limit. Improvements in technology have allowed us to improve our estimates, and none of them have put the age of the Earth in the “thousands of years” range.

“THE WRITERS BELIEVED IT
The second reason I am a six-day creationist is that I believe this is what the other biblical writers believed. When the subject of creation arises elsewhere in the Bible, I see no evidence that the writers held to any position other than literal six-day creation. If we hold that Scripture interpets Scripture, I see the Bible confirming the simplicity of God creating all things in six literal days.”

What Bronze Age or Iron Age authors believed has negligible bearing on what the evidence we can obtain with modern technology tells us.

“SCIENCE CONFIRMS IT
The third reason I am a six-day creationist is that I believe this is what science tells us. I believe science confirms a literal six-day creation and a young earth. I find the science demanding millions or billions of years less compelling than the science supporting a much less ancient universe. Even though so many people today scoff at even the suggestion that the world may be young, I find the old-earth science built upon very shaky and ever-shifting ground.

No. Just no. There are no reputable scientists who believe in a six-day creation that happened less than 10,000 years ago. The claims of “young Earth creationists” have been tested and found unsupported (if not outright wrong) many, many times.

“MY CONVICTION
I believe the Bible speaks with greater clarity and greater authority than what I believe I see or what I believe I experience. Where many interpretations of science appear to contradict a literal six-day creation, I am not ready to re-interpret a clear and natural reading of Scripture to make it fit with these observations. The Bible is infinitely more stable than science and infinitely more reliable. G.I. Williamson recently said this well: “ I do not believe that there is, or ever will be, any scientific discovery that will be able to discredit what God has spoken. Yes, scientific theories do appear to discredit that creation account. But be patient. In time it will be seen that those humble Bible believers were right all along: it was a six-day creation.” I believe this too.”

Are you ready to disagree with clear and basic math? With basic geometry we can determine that there are objects in the sky that are hundreds of millions of light-years away from Earth. The simple fact that we can see them tells us that the universe is at least hundreds of millions of years old. Either the objects we see are that far away, or God has deliberately deceived us to make us think that they are.

(And yes, a really good telescope can see objects billions of light years away, but I was being conservative.)

“I was and I remain a convicted six-day creationist, something that seems to increasingly be a minority position in the church. I do not make belief in a six-day creation a necessary mark of orthodoxy or a necessary mark of a Christian. But I do believe it is correct (I wouldn’t believe it otherwise, would I?) and I do believe it matters. How and why it matters is a topic for another day.”

All you need to do to hold on to your belief is to dismiss all of the reliable evidence that modern science has delivered to us.

To Kneel or Not To Kneel

On the subject of kneeling...


Cap's good, but Loki can pick up cars. Also, I may be over-using Marvel clips.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Pit of Despair

Where bad things happen to good (but not necessarily nice) people.



It gets worse.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Holiday Preparation

It seems that people start preparing for that OTHER HOLIDAY earlier every year.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Wrong Rec Room

One of the finest moments in cinema history...



That'll show 'em.

Friday, October 04, 2013

I Am the Law

This movie didn't get nearly the love it deserved.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

A Little Piece of Heaven

There had to be at least one involving the undead. Language warning on this one. And a creepy, disturbing content warning, too. Seriously, this is twisted stuff.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Daddy

Bruce Boxleitner has messed up kids, it seems. Nice, disturbing way to kick off October.


Yeah, they made that. And this is also apparently a real thing...


One of the little tree-rats bit me when I was a kid, trying to feed it a peanut. Took the peanut and then bit me. Ungrateful bastard.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Education

This Washington Post article isn't new, but it's been showing up on Facebook recently, which makes it new to me. It describes the experience of an adult on a Florida school board who took one of the standardized tests administered to 10th grade students there (specifically, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test).
I won’t beat around the bush,” he wrote in an email. “The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.
I was interested to see a 10th grade math and reading test that was so tough that a school board member with "a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate" flunked it. I therefore took the reading quiz and the math quiz published with the article, which reportedly use questions from the same student assessment.

I was appalled, not by how hard the test was, but by the fact that someone who claims to have three degrees did so badly on it. I scored 7 out of 7 on the reading quiz and 6 out of 7 on the math quiz, and I do think one of the math questions was poorly designed (it's question number 6 if you're interested, it requires eyeball-guessing the area of an irregular shape).

So how does this school board member react?
I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.
Having flunked an easy reading and math test, he claims that the material isn't relevant. I disagree. The math questions cover basic skills that anyone should be able to do, like multiplication, reading graphs, basic algebra, and simple geometry. This is not rocket science; he should be embarrassed by such a poor score on this test. I don't think he's stupid; I think the real reason for his failing score is that he made no effort at all to work out the answers.
I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.
Yeah, I think you just described yourself there, dude. If kids are having trouble passing this test in the 10th grade, I don't think it's the test that's the problem: the system is failing to teach them basic skills.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Nemesis

I actually meant to save this for October, but since I was careless about the scheduling, I might as well leave it up.

Friday, July 19, 2013

German Longsword Drills

I really need to practice more of this stuff.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Nuclear Option

Senate Democrats and Republicans managed to find some kind of agreement to vote on Presidential appointments, so Reid won’t be implementing the “nuclear option” today.

What is it taking so long? I think the “nuclear option” should have been exercised ages ago. What the Senate has right now is not a filibuster: a filibuster requires effort. A filibuster requires politicians to occupy the floor and keep debate open endlessly to keep a vote from happening. It requires the kind of effort that Wendy Davis put forth in Texas and Rand Paul put forth in the US House.

What the Senate has is an “obstruct” button, and it needs to be taken away.

Monday, July 15, 2013

On the Trayvon Martin Case

I suppose that everyone with even a fleeting connection to the media has learned by now that George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin.

I hope that everyone realizes that being acquitted of these charges doesn’t mean that Zimmerman did nothing wrong and/or wasn’t being an idiot. This case isn’t over: there will be a wrongful death suit, and there’s a good chance he’ll lose that one.

I’m not terribly surprised by the verdict. I’ve been a juror in a criminal case, and the bar to convict is pretty high. For any given charge, there are several criteria that jury must agree have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If and only if all of them have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury must find the defendant guilty. If there’s a reasonable doubt about even one of the conditions, the jury must find the defendant not guilty.

I’m willing to bet that the jury just followed their instructions and did what they had to do based on the evidence presented in court. Don't blame them: blame the politicians who set up this situation with Florida's insane gun laws.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Politics: Tax Policy Revisited

In a previous post I discussed how I would revise personal income taxes, if it were up to me. I also have a few ideas about corporate taxes that I would implement, if I had supreme executive power!

One of the arguments that I hear a lot is that corporate taxes hurt the economy and the people by discouraging employment. The corporations have less money available to them due to taxes, so they have less to put into payroll. I think that can be handled by letting corporations deduct legitimate costs of doing business from their income, payroll being one of those costs. Money that goes to payroll is subject to personal income tax, anyway, so there's no need to "double-tax" it.

Now, I would try to limit that by putting a "salary cap" on the payroll deduction. No more than $200,000 in compensation for an individual employee can be deducted, for example. That should keep the payroll deduction from being used as a tax loophole by giving outrageous compensation packages to executives; they would have to pay a lot of people good salaries to avoid taxes that way.

Other legitimate costs of doing business would be materials used in making a product, utilities, equipment purchases, and equipment maintenance.

Things I would not include are payments on corporate debt, be they loan payments or buying back stocks or bonds. I just don't want to encourage a lot of borrowing. Stock dividends would also be right out.

Charitable spending I would make deductible, but only for the amount that actually goes to charitable work. There would be no such thing as a "non-profit organization" that was untaxed: just money used for charitable purposes that's deductible.

That's what strikes me as a fair corporate tax system that encourages investment and employment and doesn't reward stuffing the bank accounts of corporate executives.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Aquaoir"? Really?

I'm sure that aging a wine under water will give it a different character than aging it in a cellar, but the descriptions in this article are typical of the kind of pretentiousness we've come to expect from "wine connoisseurs".
Ocean-aged wine is 'more complex' says Napa winery
You know its pretentious when they make up a new word -- "aquaoir". That's a play on "terroir", which describes subtle differences in wine derived from the soil in which the grapes were grown. A zinfandel made from grapes grown in France, for instance, can be distinguished from a zinfandel made from California grapes, even if the wine-making process is otherwise the same.

Of course, Mira Winery has invented the word "aquaoir" to describe flavor variations that occur during bottle aging, meaning that it really has nothing in common with "terroir" at all.

Sommelier Patrick Emerson produced some lovely nonsense after sampling some of the water-aged wine.
‘I am quite surprised – shocked at how quickly these two wines have changed paths – something magical has happened with “aquaoir”. The signature difference might be in the riddling motion of the tides.’
Mira winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez made the much humbler and more believable claim that...
‘It’s not better, it’s not worse and it is definitely different.’
Unfortunately he followed that with wine mumbo-jumbo rivalling Emerson's.
‘The land wine is tighter versus aquaoir-aged wine, which is more complex and broad, more open and relaxed.’
I love wine myself, and would love to do some taste-testing of water-aged versus cellar-aged wine, but wine descriptions tend to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Checking My English Major Cred

The Twitter Spelling Test

Created by Oatmeal



I wish it were more specific about what I screwed up.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Internet "Censorship"

As I've occasionally mentioned in posts before, comments to the Saga are screened before they are published. Yes, I reserve the right to decide what appears on my blog.

I seldom refuse to publish a comment. If someone disagrees with me, I usually want their comments to be seen. Either they made a good point that I should address, or they helped me make mine through their absurdity. Most of the comments that I've refused to publish have just been spam.

But let's make no mistake: if I don't publish your comment, I'm not infringing on your freedom of speech. Respecting your freedom of speech does not require me to let you stand on my soap box. You can start your own no-cost blog just as easily as I did. That's why I have multiple blog articles that respond to Allecto: I understand that she blocks critical comments and that she has every right to do so. I can be critical of her on my own blog.

This is not a response to any complaints about my actions: it's a general broadcast. I've seen people complain that so-and-so screens comments on their blog or doesn't allow comments on their YouTube videos or "unfriends" people on Facebook. So what? It's their blog, their channel, their Facebook account! They have no obligation to publish anyone else's opinion. If you want to say something, you can start your own blog or channel. Your freedom of expression is not infringed just because someone else doesn't give you free access to their media channel.

End of rant.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

"ME3: Citadel" Review

I finished the "Citadel" DLC last night, and I have comments. Naturally they'll be spoileriffic, so I'll do the real discussion after a jump, but overall I enjoyed the main plot.


Monday, March 04, 2013

Mass Effect 3: Citadel

The timing of this release is really going to make it hard for me to get packed for Gulf Wars.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ME3: Reckoning

BioWare is determined to squander more of my time. They released the "Reckoning" DLC for Mass Effect 3 multiplayer yesterday.



Yes, of course I downloaded it. To my credit, I only played one mission before going to bed instead of staying up until some ungodly hour.

They very kindly give you one of the new characters as a gift when you download the expansion, and I scored the Krogan Warlord. It's the first Krogan character I have had the chance to play. I must say that I rather like him. He's designed to perform well without any worries about "cooldown" times on "powers". His powers are all things that you can start and then forget, as they're all armor enhancements or weapon enhancements.

He's quite the brute in play, too. I equipped him with a nasty shotgun, but I hardly ever use it, preferring to smash things with a power hammer. He's also a brick when it comes to durability: the game I played was against the Collectors, and it took a Praetorian to get him down. He was going toe-to-toe with Scions and winning (on the low difficulty setting, Bronze, of course). Quite a change from the other characters I've played: he's very much a "run up and smash it in the face" sort of character.

Good times.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is That A Fact? - Gun Statistics

The Sandy Hook school shootings started another wave of interest in gun control legislation in the United States. Naturally, there are people who oppose tighter gun regulation, and I understand their view point. That doesn't mean I'm going to give them any slack on abusing statitics, though. This image is a recent example from Facebook.


In 1996, there was a mass shooting incident in Australia. It triggered a wave of interest in gun control legislation much as Sandy Hook has done in America. In Australia's case, new gun regulations were passed and implemented in 1997. Anti-Gun-Control activists like to cite some damning (but unsubstantiated) statistics about the effects of those regulations.

What we get are reports like those in the image: lists of percentages with no explanation of where the data was obtained or how the statistics were calculated. A scientific paper would require that kind of information, as scientists expect to be able to check each others' work. A bunch of percentages in a vacuum tell us nothing.

Gun legislation in Australia has been more restrictive than in the USA for decades, and gun ownership rates there have likewise been lower for a long time. The 1997 laws placed new restrictions on semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. Gun violence in Australia was declining before the new rules were passed, and gun violence has continued to decline since. There are disputes over whether the new regulations made a difference, because there has not been a significant change in the rate of decline since their passage.

I don't expect the "assault weapons" ban to have a major impact on gun crime in the USA. According to FBI statistics, rifles of any kind are used in less than 6% of homicides in the USA (this figure includes homicides involving a firearm of unspecified type). The most prevalent weapons by far in homicides in this country are handguns, accounting for nearly half of all homicides.

I'm annoyed with people who share these kinds of statistics, since I'm pretty sure that they don't do even a small amount of fact-checking before they start spreading this kind of misinformation (otherwise, they wouldn't be spreading it). I'm downright angry at the people who initiate this kind of "viral" disinformation, because they are shamelessly lying to people about the effects of gun legislation on society.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Politics: The Election Process

I think that the way we choose candidates is one of the biggest problems with our current political system. It’s bad enough that we have a two-party system, but allowing them to choose our nominees from strictly within the parties lends itself to extremism.

As I see it, the party primaries encourage extremism on both sides. The most extreme members of the electorate tend to be the most likely to participate in the primaries, which means that candidates have to appeal to the extremists to get nominated. There were Republican candidates that I actually would have voted for if they’d been nominated in 2012, but they weren’t hardcore-conservative enough, so they were eliminated early in the primaries.

The party primaries always set up moderate, centrist candidates for failure, even though (in my arrogant opinion) the moderates would have far better chances in the general election, where most of the voters are moderate independents. The candidates with positions closest to the general population are always pushed out by the extremists.

The solution I see is to have open primaries instead of party primaries. On a specific date (probably in August), there’s a general election, and the two candidates with the most votes go to a run-off in November. If someone gets more than half of the votes in the primary, there’s no need for a run-off; that position is already decided.

The open primary would force candidates to try to appeal to the entire electorate during the “primary season”, instead of trying to appeal to the subset of their own party that they consider most likely to get them nominated, and I think that would result in better elected officials.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Movie Review: Hansel & Gretel – Witch Hunters

I’m way overdue for a blog post, so I’ll throw out a little movie review.



I’d have to say this movie is about what you’d expect: an excuse to throw some action scenes and special effects in front of an audience to make money. That’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes you want a movie to just be fun, rather than some kind of emotion-wrenching drama or thought-provoking social puzzle.

Hansel & Gretel follows the premise that after they survive their experience with the witch of the gingerbread house, they grow up to become professional witch hunters. Their work eventually brings them full circle to the area where they were born, where they will discover what was really happening the night their father lead them into the woods and abandoned them.

It’s pretty much Van Helsing with witches instead of vampires. If you like that sort of thing, then you’ll like Hansel & Gretel.