Thursday, July 24, 2008

Do we turn left or right after the complete and utter darkness?

Ever wondered what its like to drive into a dust storm in the outback in Australia? Well wonder no more - check the video after the jump for a lovely ride with techno accompaniment into the heart of darkness. Coooool.

Via Gizmodo

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sensing Horseshit : Update

And here's what I was worried about when I posted the other day about this psychic crap on NZ television. The mainstream media has latched onto a statement made by police, jumbled it around to sound interesting and posted it in the "Psychics are right!" style of article. I thought Fairfax media, who run Stuff and a majority of the newspapers in NZ, might have had a shred of journalistic integrity, but it looks like I was wrong. They have an article on Stuff entitled "Psychics stir up murder mysteries" - oooooh! I had hoped it was because the title "Psychics make vague pronouncements about tragic death in vain hope of milking even more money out of gullible idiots" was too long, but after reading the article I don't think so.

What a load of crap. It starts out with the worst sentence possible - "The death of a South Otago teenager, subject of an investigation this month by psychics on the TV2 programme Sensing Murder, is being re-examined by police." Investigation? If that's an investigation I'm a monkeys bum. They wandered around looking dreamy, with bad cuts and re-enactments from actors, and said that someone as a "practical joke" threw something aflame into his car, burning it out with the young man still inside. Not exactly easy to prove, or disprove, and its the latter that is probably more telling. In the standard line of mentalists and so called psychics they pick a story that seems plausible and cannot be proven wrong on the current evidence. The police have already said that they do not know what started the fire, so that meant the clowns could say pretty much anything they like.

But what's even more annoying is the way the article is written to blatantly ignore the facts and twist the words of the police. The police said they had spoken to the Stott family (relatives of the deceased) and were looking further into some aspects of the case. The article slips the words "since the programme went to air" implying that the opinion of the entertainers on Sensing Mo' Money had something to do with it. And in a very oblique way, they did (someone contacted the police after seeing the show with some info they are looking into) but not the way you might think after reading the article.

I think the most important bits are the twisted logic used to tie the programe and the Police investigations together. Phrases like "while the case was technically closed, police would re-examine it if new information came to hand" just point to the fact that there has been no new information. And technically closed? Its closed because there's no reason to re-open it! You could use that statement to describe every single cold case in world history!

"While the case of who shot JFK was technically closed, police would re-examine it if new information came to hand"

"While the case of Hitler's final resting place was technically closed, police would re-examine it if new information came to hand"

"While the case of who shot first, Han or Greedo was technically closed, police would re-examine it if new information came to hand"

I can only take solace in the fact the the NZ police are making rational statements, like "But just because someone with a crystal ball says something. . . it's got to be something that is tangible. . . something useful." They might be asking a bit much there. That's the whole point - psychics don't give "useful" information. They use word games and tricks to make you believe you are getting information when most of the time they are merely parroting what you say back to you, telling you things they have secretly found out about you, or just making shit up.

All in all, its not true that the psychics "stirred" anything up at all - the only new information has come as a result of the show re-enacting the details known about the case on TV, perhaps jogging someone's memory. Nothing they have said in 3 seasons of this tripe has ever been proven right. It makes me wonder why people keep watching this, even when you apply the old maxim "people remember the hits and forget the misses", especially when they have had no hits whatsoever.

Amazing Volcano Images

The guys over at Boston dot com have done it again with their new set of high res pictures. They have compiled a selection of images of volcanoes that have erupted or are currently erupting around the world. Several of these are pictures from the international space station and orbiting shuttles. The space images really help with the scale of some of these events, it is truely difficult to know how big they are until seen from high altitude. Great stuff. Check out the samples after the jab.

Go here for the full set.

Robocop legs make Man walk

Here at RD we have mentioned before that science fiction is starting to become science fact, no more is true that the advancement in exoskeleton technology. We reported on the military applications of this here. Well it looks like the development has been taken to the next level, as what often happens with military uses, they find their way into our every day life.

After the jump you will see a video that shows the practical use of an exoskeletal suit on someone that has been bound to a wheelchair for a long time.

Granted, this chap will not be climbing mountains or running marathons just yet, but in time this could be possible. Many people who are unable to walk may be able to use this technology to ensure a better standard of living, that has to be a good thing.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Catholics use Pope as excuse to "get it on!"

In a case of totally misreported figures, many sites on the interwebtube are saying that due to the huge influx of pilgrims to Sydney this month, the sex industry would have a bumper year. This is of course alluding to the fact that some travellers who have come to see the man in a dress have taken the opportunity of being on a road trip with their buddies, to score some cheap hookers and party till dawn. While its a pretty funny story, its total crap unfortunately - yet another case of the media taking a statistical fact and tying it to an event that is only linked to it by being in the same year. But that does not stop us having a bloody good laugh about it.

The actual report that these bogus news items are based on is a report done by IBISWorld for the Aussie sex industry. In it they show a prediction that there will be an increase of earnings from brothels for the 2008-2009 year, due to an increase in tourist numbers. IBIS World senior industry analyst Ed Butler said the report did not suggest the 225,000 international pilgrims or clergy would be heading to brothels or strip clubs.

But I bet a few did - can you seriously convince anyone that of 225,000 people not a single one took the "what goes on tour, stays on tour" excuse to sample a bit of Kings Cross night life? And I'm not necessarily talking about getting it on in some shady den with ladies of the night - no, just visiting a strip club would be probably more likely.

"Ah yes brother, I'm just stepping out for a midnight stroll"

SHOCK HEADLINE : Pope Caught Stuffing Bucks into Strippers G-String!
When asked for a statement the Vatican said it was investigating a miracle claim that one of the dancers could heal with touch. When this reporter asked "touch with what?" there was no answer forthcoming.

Ok ok - its a cheap shot. But I think one of the funniest, and most ironic things is all the security around the pontiff while he's busy waving at his desperate fools followers, and the speed at which he travels past waving - he moves so fast it could be anyone in there! I saw a news report where several of the sheep believers were a tad miffed because he tore around a parade route at about 60kph.

"Was that him mummy or was that batman?"
"I dont know dear - they both wear costumes so it could have been either"

But why the desperate need for all the dudes in sunglasses surrounding the pope in his pedalo popemobile? Who are they afraid of? Yeah I know someone shot the PJP2 (sounds like a rapper handle) but the point I make is that it isn't radical atheist extremists, bent on taking down the church. It isn't pro-evolution Darwinian rebels, taking the fight to the holy city (they're back and they're discussing things rationally). Nor is it internet bloggers, who couldn't get off their fat butts if they were paid to.....hey hang on!

No - the three main attempts (my Wiki-fu is strong on this one!) on the man in the dresses life were a politically funded terrorist named Mehmet Ali Ağca, a right wing extremist preist Juan María Fernández y Krohn who didn't like the reforms in the church, and Al-Qaeda, who funded a Filipino plot to blow up a suicide bomber dressed like a priest. The latter sounds a bit fishy as I think Al Qaeda have been blamed for everything from the 9/11 bombing to the clothes pegs being blown off the line at night (curse you Al Qaeda!). Either way, we have 1 politically motivated attack, 1 from an alternate religion and 1 from within the same church - who is he afraid of? His own worshippers, worshippers of other religions and governments who don't like the things he says. Very typical of a dictatorship style powerbase don't you think? And Saddam Hussein always wore long flowing white robes. And what about Ayatollah Khomeini?

Anyhoo, its all over now - the pontiff has left the Australian continent. Exit stage right. Shows over folks, time to leave the flag waving, praying, and cheap hookers for another 3 or 4 years or so. Goodnight and dogbless.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sensing Horseshit

Oh FSM, I feel a wave of nausea and disgust coming upon me - what could it possibly be? Did I eat a dodgy vindaloo? Have I been drinking that vile Green Chartreuse again? Did I just catch a glimpse of The Love Guru? No, its worse than that- the new series of Sensing Money Murder is coming back on the telly, and this time I fear, even more people will be sucked into its black hole of bullshit and milking relatives of dead people for money.

Where to start? Well, back in January of 2006 the first episode of Take 'Em for All They've Got Sensing Murder aired on NZ television, and they've managed to milk it out into a second and now third season of half baked ideas, bad acting and unsubstantiated claims. The show features three Asshats Psychics with supposed paranormal skills, who are taken to locations around New Zealand, shown old case files of unsolved murders or deaths, and then proceed to divine the causes behind the deaths. Like Columbo but without the dude in the trench coat. The producers of the show claim to have the full support of the families of each of the victims, but there is evidence that once they have completed the filming and sucked them dry they refuse to speak to them and don't really give a crap whether the case is solved or not. I'd probably beg to differ on the latter point in that if by sheer fluke they managed to get at least one of the predictions correct, their ratings would go through the roof, so I'd say it is pretty important to them.

The three faux psychics (currently) are Deb Webber, Sue Nicholson, and Kelvin Cruickshank. Deb Webber was amusingly "outed" by an Aussie Investigative News show a couple of years ago, and our man Jeremy Wells on Eating Media Lunch showed this on a segment in his show called Sensing Bullshit.

Its all the same crap that we see every time one of these so called psychics gets on our telly. They spout the same wishy washy crap, vague pronouncements of eeeevil, and generally ham it right up to the point that you think only Kevin Costner could do a worse job of acting.

Recently Tony Andrews posted a challenge to the Sensing Murder team, saying that if they completed a series of tests they could get themselves $10000. The standard fob off response came back from David Baldock, managing director of Ninox Television saying he's not interested in these tests, this "circus approach". He's already tested them. When the show was developed, he auditioned 75 psychics by giving them an obscure but solved murder case to work on. Yeah - right. It was probably things like "which famous australian criminal wore a tin helmet?" or "how many fingers did the famous Wellingtonian Madman Four Fingered Jack have?".

Oh well -I guess the only thing we can hope for here is that the voice of reason is heard, this show goes down the gurgler, or the psychics take up one of the many challenges around to prove they have the powers they claim. I wont hold my breath - thats not how this works in reality. The con artists are too smart to take up those tests when it would spell the end of that particular gravy train.

Check out the article on Stuff for some more background info, and the Aussie BadPsychics site for info on Australasian Scepticism, and their line on Deb Webber.