Sunday, April 12, 2009

New Info on Area 51 seems Fishy

Would you expect any military base, let alone the infamous Area 51, to be the “most boring” place you could ever work? Don’t they get to play with ET and fly spaceships? Or at least know what really happened in Roswell in 1947?

Area 51 sign

Not so much according to Thorton “T.D.” Barnes, former special-projects engineer at Area 51 in Nevada.

Actually, he says what people thought were alien-piloted UFOs in the 1960's were really spy planes being tested at over 2,000 miles per hour at altitudes of 90,000 feet, which would produce flashes of light high in the sky.

"We considered it to be a bonus. They [the UFO sightings] made it easier to conceal what we were doing," says Barnes.

While it's true that most reported UFO sightings really can be identified, I still have some questions about this random admittance of “truth:”

  1. Why come out with it half a century later?

  2. If the military at Area 51 was using the idea of UFOs and aliens as a cover-up for something else, how odd/questionable/bad must that something else be?

  3. Is this just another cover-up?

(Image: Strangely hilarious, although I'm not sure if it's real. From

Sunday, April 5, 2009

5 Worst Proven Conspiracies

Conspiracy TheoryWhen you hear the word "conspiracy" what do you think of? Traitors? Crazy nuts? Mel Gibson?

In most cases, the first assumption is correct.

A conspiracy is defined as:

An agreement between two or more persons to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act, as if by sinister design.

But conspiracies aren't always bad; an example of a "good" conspiracy would be the the Underground Railroad. On the other hand, because conspiracies are based on lies and deceit, they're usually so disgusting, terrible, and just plain wrong that they need to be kept secret to prevent public outrage - and to keep the lie going.

Here are 5 of the worst.

(Not to sound like a stereotypical conspiracy nut with tin foil on my head, but isn't it strange that most of these involve a government of some sort?)

Smallpox-Infected Blankets given to Aboriginals

smallpox conspiracyJeffrey Amherst was the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army mid-18th century, and is also believed to be responsible for purposely giving smallpox-infected blankets to American Indians, an early form of germ warfare.

Some people are skeptical about these stories, while others assert that the infected blankets were not intentionally distributed to the Indians, or that Lord Jeff himself is not to blame.

Two hard-to-read letters , however, suggest not only that it happened, but that it was intentional, and that Amherst was responsible – assuming, of course, the letters are authentic:

Colonel Henry Bouquet to General Amherst (13 July 1763) suggests in a postscript the distribution of blankets to "inocculate the Indians"

Amherst to Bouquet (16 July 1763) approves this plan in a postscript and suggests "to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race."


“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”

The Protocols of the Elders of ZionThe Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an anti-Semitic forgery claiming an elaborate plot of Jewish world domination. It was first privately printed in 1897 and was first made public in Russia in 1905, when Nicholas II and his secret police distributed the work and presented it as true.

It was later published in 1920 in a Michigan newspaper started by Henry Ford mainly to attack Jews and Communists. Ford even wrote a book that was heavily influenced by the text —The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem.

Adolf Hitler later used the Protocols to help justify his attempt to exterminate Jews during World War II.

The Protocols have been deemed a hoax for decades, and yet many parts of the world are still taking it as fact and using it to foster anti-Semitism. (Similar to claims that Jews made up the Holcaust.)


Tuskegee Experiments

Tuskegee ExperimentsBeginning in 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted an experiment on 399 black men who were unknowingly suffering from syphilis. The men were never treated for the disease, but their symptoms and the progression of the disease was studied.

(Experimenters wanted to see how blacks and whites reacted differently to syphilis, but whites were not part of the study.)

By the end of the experiment, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 died of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis.

Even when penicillin was discovered in the 1940s—the first real cure for syphilis— the study participants were deliberately denied the medication

The experiments ended 40 years later when the story finally broke in the Washington Star on July 25, 1972.



mind controlMKULTRA was the code name for a covert CIA mind-control and chemical interrogation research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence. The program began in the early 1950s, continuing at least through the late 1960s - although some argue it’s still being done - and used United States citizens as its test subjects.

These are just some of the other disturbing aims of the CIA’s mind-altering substance studies, aside from creating manchurian candidates:

  • Substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public.
  • Substances which will enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion during interrogation and so-called "brain-washing".
  • A material which…in very small amounts will make it impossible for a man to perform any physical activity whatsoever.

Another study of MKULTRA was Operation Midnight Climax - and yes, it was just as perverted as it sounds. Women (prostitutes on the CIA payroll) lured men to apartment hideaways in New York City and San Francisco. They then fed them LSD or marijuana while experimenters watched through two-way mirrors and recorded the sounds.


Abu Ghraib Torture and Media Manipulation

Abu Ghraib tortureIn 2004 images began to surface of the abuse, torture, sodomy, and murder of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq in a news report on CBS’s Sixty Minutes II, acts that were committed by personnel of the United States Army.

Then in 2007, long-time CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS and Viacom for wrongfully terminating his employment.

With nothing to lose, Rather accused CBS management of sitting on the Abu Ghraib story, the evidence for which was discovered in early 2004 by Mary Mapes, a producer for 60 Minutes II with over 20 years experience.

To top it all off, Rather claimed CBS refrained from publicizing the story to appease the Bush administration, which was, according to Rather, a regular occurrence at CBS.


Friday, April 3, 2009

A Piece of Advice (rant) to Experimental Bloggers

Okay, so I’m trying to create a new blog and I’ve been attempting all the Blogger URLs that I might like to use. But, of course, they’re all taken.

Even worse, these people either a) haven’t posted anything since five + years ago, b) only have one post that was made five + years ago, or c) simply made a “test” page.

blogging cartoon

I’m not really “enraged” that people set up these accounts with the hope of keeping up with them, but come on. One post? A test page?

Please, if you’re experimenting with blogging, or just making a pointless test page, choose a pointless URL. Pick something no one else would ever want, like “,” or just “” (I don’t know if those are taken, but I don’t think anyone would want to pick them anyway – unless someone actually did make a test page and called it “testpage,” in which case that’s okay.) Besides, you can always change it later.

Or, if after some test posts you decide blogging isn’t for you, change the URL to something ridiculous.

It’s not a huge deal that every URL I want to use is already in “use,” but it’s annoying enough that, ironically enough, I had to blog about it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Conficker Update (Still not sure if it's a Hoax)

ConfickerApril 1st has come and gone and the crafty Conficker virus has yet to have the catastrophic Y2K effect experts anticipated. Will something happen today? Tomorrow? The day after tomorrow?

Still, no one knows. I’m starting to think this whole Conficker thing really is a hoax, a scam created by all those anti-virus companies to scare people into buying their products.

Or, maybe the fake security software getting picked up by search engines IS the next phase of Conficker:

Scammers game Google’s search engine by creating Web sites full of search terms. Another tactic is spamming high-traffic Web sites that lead back to their malicious site in order to drive their Web site up the search ranks.

The fake security software Web sites will ask a user to download a file that scans a machine for malware. The software usually tells the user the PC has malicious software even if it isn’t infected. The software will then badger the user to buy the questionable security program
(from Information Security Resources).

(Is it just me, or does this kind of sound like all the news reports badgering people to install Norton and the like?)

My half-assed conspiracy theory aside, as long as you're fearful of other viruses and already have your computer protected, you should be safe from this one too.

(Image:ABC News)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The New Thing: Ghost-Twittering

Twitter birdYou’ve probably heard about ghostwriting, especially when it comes to super-long novels, which, let’s face it, takes a lot of precious time.

But Twittering? That’s like, what? A sentence?

Even so, celebrities aren’t doing it. So if you’re following the tweets of 50 Cent, John Mayer, Kanye West, or Britney Spears, you’re really getting tweeted by “hired ghosts”.

In fact, some of these celebs don’t even like Twitter. (“Like” is a nice way of putting it.)

This is what John Mayer said to Marc Malkin of E!:

Twitter is "inherently silly and it's inherently dumb...If you really think that Twitter is the pathway to spiritual enlightenment,'s one step away from sending pictures of your poop."

I can’t help but laugh, but I bet his 400,000 followers are pissed.

You Fool! 3 Funny Pranks on the Public

April FoolMy whole plan was to make up some completely absurd story about the origin of April Fools’ Day, but since I’m not very good at pranks, and not really a big fan of pranks being played on me, I decided not to pull your leg.

Instead, I picked some of the funniest practical jokes that actually did play out according to the Museum of Hoaxes. Geez, people sure are gullible:

Virgin Cola’s Blue Cans

Pepsi can1996: Virgin Cola announced that in the interest of consumer safety it had integrated a new technology into its cans. When the cola passed its sell-by date, the liquid would react with the metal in the can, turning the can itself bright blue. Virgin warned that consumers should therefore avoid purchasing all blue cans. The joke was that Pepsi had recently unveiled its newly designed bright blue cans.

The Left-Handed Whopper

Whopper1998: Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a "Left-Handed Whopper.” According to the advertisement, the new Whopper included the same ingredients as the original, but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees. Thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich, as well as the 'right handed' version." (Kind of reminds me of the new Diamond Shreddies.)

The Case of the Interfering Bras

electric bra1982: The Daily Mail reported that a local manufacturer had sold 10,000 "rogue bras.” According to the article, the support wire in these bras had been made out of a kind of copper that produced static electricity, which was interfering with local television and radio broadcasts. The chief engineer of British Telecom immediately ordered that all his female laboratory employees disclose what type of bra they were wearing.

You can also click here for this year's hoaxes, or here if you like cruel jokes. Don’t worry; you won't be judged.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Forgot about Earth Hour / Earth in General

Earth HourAfter reading The Post Script and That's What She Said today, I realized I completely forgot about Earth Hour on Saturday, and as a result, didn't participte.

While I try to be earth-friendly everyday, what I've been hearing from some people (even one if my professors), is that the Earth is doomed anyway.

Over the last 50 years especially, with billions of people, millions of cars, mass production, and everyday waste, I'm well aware that we've vandalized our planet.

But it's hard for me to beleive that it can't be saved. Maybe that's not even it; maybe Earth just won't be saved. That I can believe.

No matter how much we recycle, I'm not sure the other two R's are part of the current equation.

pollutionWe don't want to give up the luxuries, the conveniences, the habits that we've grown up with, even though we know what they're doing. And I'm not talking about idiotic things like leaving the water running full blast after washing your hands, like this one girl I caught in a restaurant bathroom. (I had to turn it off because she just walked out. Who does that?!)

No, no. I'm talking about things you're used to and might not even realize.

Have you ever had to take a cold shower because someone else used up the hot water? What about when you go camping and have to skip showers?

Have you ever experienced a black-out and couldn't figure out what to do to pass the time because everything you do and use is electronic?

Have you ever had to catch your own dinner or face going without it?

Do you remember the days before you could drive and had to walk everywhere?

Would you want to do stuff like that all the time? I wouldn't; I'm not going to lie - and those are only a few minor changes. And you can also be damn sure big companies like Coca-Cola and Nike wouldn't want to limit production or their use of third-world labour.

money treeI don't want this to be all doom and gloom, but if we really want to make a difference, we have to do things differently - and that doesn't just mean buying green and turning everything off for one hour a year.

But I guess, as they say, you have to start somewhere...

But I Love my Gun!

love gunOMG Obama wants to take away the Second Amendment! What are we going to do?

I’ll be doing nothing, being Canadian and all, but Americans in general and the National Rifle Association in particular definitely aren’t happy about Obama’s relatively recent support for banning assault weapons, so says The New York Times and many others.

By strange coincidence, or just plain strangeness, this concern has caused gun lovers to start loading up on even more weapons; gun-makers Smith & Wesson's order backlog now stands at $48 million, making them believe their revenue will double in the next three years.

Am I crazy, or are guns really that important?

Some people, like Big Brother Crusher thinks so:

“I can't believe Obama! Obama is a silver tongue dirty snake. Why does this worthless sob want to take away my firearms? The second amendment was put in place as a checks and balance to big government. Which is exactly why Obama wants to take away a persons right to bear arms.”

And Katrina S argues,

“No one has a right to take away guns, gun control is a way of dissarming the people so they can't build a resisitence against the gov't. Its your right carry it and if anyone tries to take that away from you don't feel discouraged. They will meet some heavy resistence in the center of the country. I suggest he keeps his agenda in the bi-costal areas, if he wants to avoid a full scale war.”

It seems the people who are so keen on guns are the ones who supported a government that probably should have been overthrown.

Furthermore, when someone says gun control is bad because it takes away the people’s ability to resist government, they basically say guns are the be-all and end-all of government resistance. Ever heard of peaceful measures down there?

And if anyone tries to take your gun there will be a full-scale war? What the F will that do besides amp up America's pro-war image even more?

As for the "silver tongue" comment, Obama didn't even lie when he said he wouldn't ban guns; he HAS mentioned limiting CERTAIN gun rights:

“...a lot of law-abiding citizens use it for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families. We also have a violence on the streets that is the result of illegal handgun usage.

And so I think there is nothing wrong with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets...We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure that I think respect the Second Amendment and people’s traditions.”

anti-gunsMaybe it’s because I’m a Canadian (who has never held a gun or seen one other than in its holster on a police officer) that I don’t understand the importance of gun ownership.

And yeah, you could say, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

But isn’t it a problem that guns make it way easier?

Go here for stats on gun-related deaths and comparisons between Canada and US stats.

Paranormal 2.0

You've heard of web 2.0, but what about paranormal 2.0?

This new phrase created by refers to:

Paranormal 2.0"...the rejuvenation and evolution revolving around the paranormal. Until now, the paranormal has been understated, thought of as negative, and unrepresented...

We are taking the word paranormal to a whole new level. More categories, articles, interviews, and videos are on the way to help reshape the world’s view of the paranormal community."

If you have any interest in the paranormal, the unexplained, superstitions, history, world issues, and/or debating any of the above, check it out!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Conficker Virus a Hoax?

computer virusIn case you haven't heard the hundreds of news reports or from one of your techie friends (as I just did this weekend), there’s a computer virus going around that, from what I can gather, is really really bad.

So potentially harmful, in fact, that Microsoft has offered a $250,000 bounty on the heads of the jerks who created it, and who have already infected millions of computers.

The Conficker virus is set to activate on April 1st and, as if this already doesn't feel like Y2K all over again, no one knows what's going to happen.

Here's why this virus is so frightening. (I'll use direct quotes since I’m not too good with explaining computer stuff):

Conficker is the latest example of a type of malware called a botnet, which gives a cybercriminal control over an infected computer. The criminal can steal information stored on the computer or make it do things like send spam emails...

What sets Conficker apart is that it’s more sophisticated than any previous piece of malware. It uses a new form of cryptography, can be controlled by criminals in multiple ways, and updates itself.

...the bad guys haven’t done anything with the computers they control yet, which means they could do, well, anything.


"Perhaps in the best case, Conficker may be used as a sustained and profitable platform for massive Internet fraud and theft.

In the worst case, Conficker could be turned into a powerful offensive weapon for performing concerted information warfare attacks that could disrupt not just countries, but the Internet itself.
(Globe and Mail)

But now some experts are saying there’s nothing to worry long as you don't click on pop-ups and regularly do anti-virus and Windows updates. But even so, we won't really know until April 1st.

To make me even more paranoid until then, while looking all this up I also came across I site warning that searching “Conficker” could put your computer at a greater risk of getting it. Super...

But whether all this an April Fools’ prank or the real deal, I have to wonder why people create these viruses in the first place. Are they greedy? Lonely? Ingenious? Or some hideous combination of the three?

P.S. Virus-makers I may have insulted just now, please don't ruin my computer!

computer virus cartoon

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Psychics "Help" during Recession

psychicIt’s tough finding a job in these hard times. How about trying your hand at psychiatry? I don’t mean psychology; I’m talking about predicting the future.

The psychic business is up, and the topic is money.

So it looks like now’s the perfect time to open your own business charging people $10 to tell them the economy is in a slump.

"I don't think really the economy is gonna pick up for another two years," says Sherry Starr, a psychic whose business has gone up 50% since September.

But don’t worry. Starr offers some helpful advice that you can’t get from your friends and family:

"What about a job change? A job change is in your cycle right now."


"I see more success for you. More changes.”

Paula Whittle, one of Starr’s customers says the reading will have a positive effect on her economic decisions: "I will probably be more cautious with my spending the rest of the year."

I see...a waste of $10.

(Image: The Love Psychic.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

CBC Cuts: "Hardly a Meltdown"

Canada US flags This is a repost of a Toronto Sun article:

Despite the sorry news that the CBC is cutting 799's still getting $1.1 billion a year. Hardly a melt-down...

Mr. Lacroix defends running U.S. game shows on grounds that they attract viewers and advertising. Now he says the Corp has to sell $125 million in assets to alleviate the shortfall...

Executive salaries have already been frozen, so maybe the 50% cut in bonuses now will be trimmed to 100%. Why are bonuses necessary when execs are already well-paid?

...Acknowledging that she had no inside knowledge about CBC layoffs or cutbacks, Ms. [Carole] Taylor [former chairman of the CBC (2001-05), and a former B.C. finance minister (2005-08)] said she opposed importing U.S. game shows and felt the CBC should 'not be going for ratings but providing a service that cannot be found anywhere else.'

...Lord knows, private broadcasting won't do it."

CBC logoI just want to point out that there are Canadian-made shows on the CBC that I and other people actually do like to watch (besides Hockey Night in Canada, obviously):

As for what to do with the other 20 or so hours of the day, here are my thoughts:

If the CBC doesn’t have the money or advertising to draw in a huge audience, that pretty much affirms its position as a public broadcaster. And what’s wrong with that?

The CBC doesn’t have the constraints of the privately-owned networks (pleasing advertisers mostly), so it can really be a place for fun and experimentation.

There are a ton of things the CBC could do, and perhaps, should have done, as a public broadcaster. Here's one: How about giving time slots to the public?

Got a garage band you want to showcase? Written a screenplay you would like to see come to life? Want to practice reporting skills by doing your own story on a Canadian person/event/issue?

It could be like YouTube for TV; public broadcasting for...public broadcasting.

This might actually get people to tune in more, if they, as the Canadian public, can make contributions to what’s considered “Canadian content.”

And Wheel of Fortune sucks anyway. What were they thinking?

Share your thoughts!

Poll Results: Bigfoot is a No-Show

BigfootOf all the 11 people who took my poll, no one believes in Bigfoot!

Let’s explore some possible reasons why...

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization cites thousands of reports of possible sightings or “vocalizations” of Sasquatch, Bigfoot, or in simpler terms, a “large, hairy, humanlike creature.”

Hmm, that sounds like it could be my friend’s dad, some guy I once saw at the bus stop, or a Star Wars character.

Maybe it’s not so much that people don’t believe in Bigfoot, but that it’s not that crazy of an idea. Big deal? There’s so many species of animal out there that the elusive Bigfoot could just be another one, or something in the early stages of human evolution – which would be pretty cool.

Plus, anyone can just put on a Chewbacca costume and walk around in the woods.

Then again, some say there’s a connection between Bigfoot and UFOs, which, according to the poll, are even more believable than God.

Hilarious Twitter Video

Having not jumped on the Twitter train (try saying that 5 times fast!), I sometimes feel like I'm missing out on something really important and special.

Then I find a video like this...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The End of Mass Media? Again?

Let me begin with a little excerpt from The Simpsons since it always seems to apply so well to real life:

BROADCASTER: On our panel is a porn star, a physics professor, a robotics engineer, a make-up artist, and...a print journalist?

NELSON: Ha ha! You’re medium is dying!

I don’t know if I listed the non-print journalist professions correctly, but what matters here is the idea that print is dying. And not just print; the CBC’s documentary The End, suggests even TV and radio might also be meeting their untimely demise – or timely; whatever way you look at it.

CBC The End

The truth is I would rather hold a book in my hands than read off a screen; then again, I don’t see the point of a computer without the internet. And I don’t listen to the radio. (When I worked in an office 2 summers ago, the same radio station was always on, and they played the same 10 songs 3 times a day every day. I’m not even exaggerating.)

What I think The End is getting at isn’t necessarily that radio, TV, and print are dying, but changing. The documentary called it an “evolution of choice.”

We don’t have to wait for our favourite shows or songs to come on, a decision made primarily by broadcasters and advertisers.

On that note, one of the most interesting things from the documentary is the idea of “conversation vs. consumption.”

Thanks to video on demand and TiVo, we can just fast-forward through commercials; with the internet, we can search for what we want, and make contributions to the content ourselves in however way we choose, which is usually honestly and without restraint.

WikipediaI also want to mention something that was said aboutWikipedia - the idea that it’s “killing encyclopedias.” That, I’d have to disagree with because like radio, TV, and print, the same information will just move to another format.

Other complaints are that Wikipedia isn’t always accurate because anyone can add to it; that too I disagree with.

Wikipedia is a shared space. If someone makes something up and posts it, it'll get caught because everyone has access to it, making it more reliable in some ways.

Wikipedia’s contributors don’t have advertisers to please or government riding their butts to keep certain things out, like mainstream information-disseminating networks. It’s also free and easily-updated, whereas as the expensive traditional leather-bound versions are a little more difficult to add to.

Plus, finding what you want on Wikipedia is fast and can be done from anywhere with a cell phone – which apparently 815 million people bought last year. (As an added bonus, Wikipedia doesn't weigh a hundred pounds.)

The end of radio, TV, and print? Not likely. We’re more likely looking at the end of long attention spans. Hey, a bird!

Jon Stewart Gets Serious

Last night, I saw an episode of The Daily Show that really wasn’t that funny. (I think it originally aired on the 12th, but since this is Canada, maybe it was delayed?)

Jon Stewart let 'er tip on Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money, calling out the host, the show, and the entire company for not doing what they’re supposed to be doing as, 1) a news network,and 2) a news network that markets itself as having trustworthy answers to people's financial worries.

The best part was that Cramer couldn’t do or say anything about it other than shrug his shoulders and act like a suck-up. So I guess it was funny in an I-don’t-believe-this-is-actually-happening kind of way.

I can see the headlines now:

“Money Matters Fails: Jon Stewart Takes Down Another Mainstream News Program

Go here to watch the full episode: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Monday, March 23, 2009

Colbert wins NASA Room-Naming Contest!

Stephen ColbertCongrats, NASA.

You opened a write-in poll to name a new room in your famous space station only to get the result you least wanted: Colbert (as in the host of Comedy Central's Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert).

That’s right! Colbert!

Only question is: Will they use it?

Obama's "Special" Comment

Last Thursday when Barack Obama appeared on The Tonight Show, he said something he probably shouldn’t have.

What a lot of the criticism seems to be (from YouTube comments anyway) is that if Bush had said what Obama said about the Special Olympics, there would be so many complaints and he would be impeached and blah blah blah.

Well, guess what? Obama isn’t Bush and people are still complaining. And considering the things Bush has done and said during his 8 year reign, what’s a comment like that gonna do? Besides, there’s a reason we know exactly what Bushisms are.

Oddly enough, it looks like Obama fans don’t really care about his Special Olympics comment, whereas Obama haters (and who I think must be Bush lovers) do - not to mention everyone involved with the Special Olympics.

Let me just get it out there so there's no confusion: I'm a way bigger fan of Obama than Bush, so I'm going to defend Obama now by saying he made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, right? (It's not like he invaded a country or anything.)

Then again, I guess not everyone says insulting, prejudiced things on Leno, and obviously not everyone is the President of the United States - who based his entire campaign on Change no less. But Obama’s strategy from the beginning was to present himself as this regular, everyday person in America who everday people could identify with.

Is he just continuing on with that strategy, acting like the average Joe by unwittingly saying things that could offend people? (One of the big ones that comes to mind, and one I’m sure most of us has said at least once and heard at least a hundred times, is “that’s so gay.”) That said, is he just making an example out of himself?

Do you think the Special Olympics comment will affect Obama’s image?
Were you upset by his comment?
Do you even think it’s a big deal?

Will “Obamaisms” become the new thing? (If they do, I bet one of them would be, "We are facing a time of crisis." Not that he's wrong; he just seems to say it a lot.)

City in the Sea: The Venus Project

The future is sea bound!

Venus Project
The Venus Project, founded nearly 50 years ago by 93-year-old social engineer, futurist, architect, and idealist Jacque Fresco, is still one of the coolest (and dare I say, best) ideas for the future of human life.

This is what it's about:

The Venus Project presents a vision not of what the future will be, but what it can be if we apply what we already know in order to achieve a sustainable new world civilization.

It calls for a straightforward redesign of our culture in which the age-old problems of war, poverty, hunger, debt, and unnecessary human suffering are viewed not only as avoidable, but as totally unacceptable.

Anything less will result in a continuation of the same catalog of problems found in today’s world.”

That's some good theorizing. But how long do you think it would take for it to become a reality?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Warning: No Journalists Allowed

Beverly GiesbrechtA Canadian journalist who was kidnapped in Pakistan last November, and is still being held hostage for US $375,000 (although some reports say $2 million), said this is a new video made by her captors:

"I am going to be beheaded just like the Polish engineer [Peter Stanczak], probably by the end of the month. The deadline is by the end of March, and that's basically, I don't know, 18 days or 16 days.”

"I'm not quite sure how long that is but the time is very short and my life is going to end."

Beverly Giesbrecht converted to Islam after the 9/11 attacks and now runs Jihad Unspun, a website which claims to provide "a clear view of the U.S. war on 'terrorism'" and information that is "devoid of the constraints of mainstream media." She now prefers to be called Khadija Abdul Qahaar (although many of the articles on her kidnapping use her former name).

These are some of the harsh comments from a CTV article and a Globe and Mail article on the video’s release. There weren’t many on each (only 10 comments all together), but there seemed to be a trend towards blaming Qahaar for her own kidnapping:

As a journalist she put herself in harms way in order to obtain a story that would be considered a scoop. She knew the risks that she was taking what the consequences would be should she be captured, hoping that she could beat the odds, and collect a sizeable payment for doing so. Now that she has been kidnapped the expectation is for our federal government to come to the rescue at great expense to the taxpayers and to negotiate with her captors for her release. She took her chances and lost,end of story. it was her own doing.


As a journalist, she has put herself in harms way and has become an author of her own misfortune. I would not pay any ransom as that encourages other pseudo journalists to act so irresponsibly.

…this woman put herself in harms way for the sake of writing a story and being a journalist! Actions like this sometimes have consequences and now the people are expected to bail her by paying a ransom. Another load unto the taxpayers!

Eat Your Weedies
I am sad for her. It's tough to watch someone plead for their life. However, it's also sad to watch a fool make foolhardy decisions. She had no business going there in the first place. Whatever her name, she's a blond Canadian dealing with illiterate, ignorant, hot heads.

Bill Williams
Bye Bye Babe. You made the decision to go there, now suffer the consequences. Bad choice on your part, but, hey, that's the type of decisions idealist bleeding hearts make. Why should the rest of us be responsible for her well being.

Peter StanczakOf course the woman had a choice not to go to such a dangerous area, but blaming her for getting herself kidnapped just for a story isn’t only an insult to her, but to journalists who actually are willing to report from such dangerous areas, Stanczak, the engineer who was kidnapped for ransom in September 2008 and murdered by Pakistani Taliban last month (the key word here is engineer, not journalist), and the area's citizens, who are also victims of these kidnappings and executions.

Blaming Qahaar for going somewhere she knew was dangerous also ignores the idea that because it is so dangerous it almost necessitates journalists going there to expose exactly what’s happening.

Isn’t that was journalists do?

When a firefighter is killed on the job, no one says, “Oh well, he knew what he was getting into.” Definitely not. I realize there might be more of an immediate need to put out fires, but why is it different for journalists when they're harmed or killed for doing their job? Isn't the truth important too?

As some of the commentators already mentioned, Qahaar knew the stakes and is now asking for help from them, which I guess seems contradictory.

But to just say the hell with her doesn’t make us (“the innocent taxpayers”) any less “ignorant” or criminal than those who are literally holding her life in their hands. It also gives me a sick feeling in my stomach.

Friday, March 20, 2009

UFOs over Big Ben...or Trick of Light?

A picture of 4 UFOs flying over London, published yesterday in the UK’s Telegraph, has already gotten a lot of people (meaning bloggers) talking about the photo’s authenticity.

UFO in London
Derek Burdon, who took the photo from the roof top of Orion House in Covent Garden, said he didn’t even notice the shapes while he was taking it. It was only after, when he was looking through his camera, that he saw them. For the skeptics, Burdon was sure to make that clear:

"I have not tampered with it and you would not be able to fake it. It was taken on my mobile and I guess I am just lucky to have it. These shapes were not visible to the naked eye so it's not as if I was looking for them."

What quite a few people – but especially UFO believers – are saying is that the “UFOs” in this photo are just reflections of the room lights against the window.

I don’t really know what to think about this one. I believe in UFOs, but I also believe in Photoshop and other possible explanations. Still, I can’t picture someone doctoring a UFO photo and giving it to a newspaper with their name unless they actually believed it was real. People do it though. Damn you photo pranksters!

But, oddly enough, London is a hotspot for UFO sightings anyway. According to the BBC, the number of reported UFO sightings in 2008 had almost doubled since the year before.

Another UFO photo (new word: UFOtograph?), this one from a year ago and published in The Sun – and referred to in my post, “There’s No Such Thing as a UFO” – is so clear that it looks like a movie still or something.

UFO in London
I don’t know if that makes the photo less believable or the movies more accurate.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New SciFi Name is Lame, Angers Twitterers

SyfyThis just in: the SciFi Channel is changing its name.

It still sounds exactly the same, but the boring I's have been replaced by more trendy Y’s, making it...SyFy.

Why, you may ask, is the brilliant reason behind this change?

“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular...

We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci-Fi."

(Yeah, because “Sci-Fi” sounds nothing like a shorter version of “Science Fiction,” and “Syfy” sounds nothing like “Sci-Fi.”)

“We [the mega-corporation that owns this channel] really do want to own the imagination space. We want to get the credit for the range of content that we already have on our air and that we’ll be doing more of in the future.

When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it...

We’ll get the heritage and the track record of success, and we’ll build off of that to build a broader, more open and accessible and relatable and human-friendly brand.”

Hey, I’m a human! I’ll definitely start watching SyFy!

By taking the science fiction out of Sci-Fi NBC Universal hopes to broaden its brand to appeal to greater audiences, while simultaneously insulting all of its original fans.

TwitterIt looks like Twitterers aren’t too happy about the name change either. (Twitterers: the “techno-savvy” demographic that supposedly influenced the name change in the first place.)

tewha: BREAKING NEWS: Sci Fi to skip SyFy name, go directly to "Channel nobody watches."

mebobyounot: Sci Fi channel is now SyFy? Sounds way to close to Syfylis/syhphilis

sebFlyte: SyFy = Fail. That is all. (This one's my favourite.)

stitzelj: How long do you think it'll be before the SciFi Channel decides to do away with their new 'SyFy' brand due to the general outcry against it?

VoltjanStevens: SciFi Channel is changing their name to Syfy? That is TERRIBLE. That is SO. STUPIDLY. AWFUL.

jenn2d2: The day that the Sci-Fi Channel becomes "SyFy" is when I stop consuming their content. I guess they don't need geeks with disposable income.

What's my take? Seems to be another example of a corporation trying to own the rights to everything, even creating their own unlikable word to claim an entire genre as their own brand.

Dumb? Yes...but not surprising.

Want to Buy a Haunted House?

According to ABC News, people generally don’t want to live in a house someone died in, especially if somewhere in the property's history are the words "mass murder."

Well, duh.

A “stigmatized” property - what those in the real eastate biz call homes with bad karma - can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in value. The other problem with "stigmatized" homes is that the reason it's stigmatized is more easily hidden from buyers than a leaky roof or creaky floors.

"Murder would seem to be horrific and would garner a 50 percent reduction, whereas a landslide on the property might be more toward 30 percent."

Considering the condition the real estate market’s already in, this sounds like it might be a pretty serious problem; either too many haunted houses are on the market or too many agents are tricking people into buying them.

But what’s with the picture they put with it?

haunted house


Way to make fun of people who don't want to live in the Amityville Horror house. They must be crazy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Leprechauns. They're Magically Ridiculous

It’s 2 pm on St. Patrick’s Day, and you know what that means!

You’re probably not reading this because you’re out drinking somewhere.

But just in case you’re not, here’s a little poem to bring you some Irish cheer.

Near a misty stream in Ireland in the hollow of a tree
Live mystical, magical leprechauns
who are clever as can be
With their pointed ears, and turned up toes and little coats of green
The leprechauns busily make their shoes and try hard not to be seen.
Only those who really believe have seen these little elves
And if we are all believers
We can surely see for ourselves.

(Irish Blessing)

Also, if you like to laugh (and who doesn't?) check out this actual news report on a leprechaun sighting. (Hilarious!)

Normally I’m pretty open-minded, but this I just don’t buy.

I did enjoy that super-lifelike sketch though.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What is Facebook up to?

They’ve got your name, location, phone number, email address, interests, beliefs, daily activities, pictures, conversations, dreams, and the names and related information of your family and friends. Basically, all the happenings of your life.

So who are they exactly? And what are they doing with all that valuable information?

Here's one answer:

I actually read through those painfully long and boring Facebook Terms of Use just to see if the video was was telling the truth, at least about the Terms of Use part. And what did I discover?

It was all there. (Then I realized that was the first time I ever actually read the Facebook Terms of Use.)

Facebook Terms of Use

Facebook Terms of Use

Another Term I found interesting was:

“We reserve the right, at our sole discretion, to change, modify, add, or delete portions of these Terms of Use at any time without further notice...It is your responsibility to regularly check the Site to determine if there have been changes to these Terms of Use and to review such changes.”

I don’t typically read any terms of use (Does anyone?), but this seems odd.

They could basically say,

“If the Company so hereto desires, the Company can irreversibly, conclusively, indisputably, irrefutably, sell all of your information to the fat cats of billion-dollar companies. The Company is not responsible for how this affects you, as you, the User, acknowledged, accepted, and understood, these unnecessarily complicated Terms of Use. And you can't do anything about it.”

Wait - isn't that what they're saying?

Gotta love that tricky language.

Big Surprise: Police Brutality Protest ends in Violence

protester arrestWhat’s wrong with this sentence?

“Seventeen people arrested during an anti-police brutality demonstration that turned into a riot are facing charges including mischief, theft, assault and possession of weapons...”

So, they were protesting police brutality by engaging in violence...that sounds about right.

burning carAccording to the Toronto Star:

“Police were pelted with bricks, bottles and food during the annual protest, organized by the Collective Opposed to Police Brutality, a Montreal group.”

There was also vandalism done to police cars, other cars, and store windows, with a grand total of $200,000 in damages.

But unfortunately, the Toronto Star article doesn’t mention the event leading up to the protest.

About a week before, in the same park where the protest was held, 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva was killed and two other men were shot and wounded when police attempted to make an arrest.

A CBC article states:

“The park [where the first shooting occurred] is in a predominantly Haitian neighbourhood where tensions between police and young people run high, according to residents. ‘The police are always creeping around here, hassling people,’ one unidentified youth told CBC News as he stood in front of a looted butcher shop.”

I don’t know what’s more ironic: being arrested for assault while participating in an anti-police brutality protest, that police brutality seems to occur more in places where people are already suspicious of (and under suspicion by) police, or, that people who are supposed to uphold the law don't appear to be subject to it themselves.

Just recently, surveillance footage was released of two police officers using excessive force on a 15-year-old girl.

Deputy Paul Schene defended himself by claiming the girl kicked her shoes off at him, causing "bruising, bleeding, and pain" as well as a "blood filled pocket." You tell me if his reaction was understandable (although I seriously doubt you will).

Obviously, not all police officers like to use their power to beat people up for no reason, but how the hell can they be police officers if they do!?

And if they're the police, who will police the police?
(Question care of The Simpsons.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009


EquilibriumWhat a wonderful surprise, on a Sunday night when nothing else is on, to find Equilibrium (2002) on TV. Hooray for the Space channel!

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I seriously recommend it.

Based on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), and starring Christian Bale – which should tell you right there that it’s good – Equilibrium is about a futuristic “ideal” society where it’s illegal for people to feel, or even own anything that could incite human emotion, such as art and music.

The whole idea is that human emotion is the cause of all war, so by eliminating emotion, they can end war forever...only hunting down and killing people who feel is just a new kind of war.

Kind of reminds me of that famous but very wrong phrase all the way from WWI. You know, how it was supposed to be “The war to end all wars”?

Maybe that was Huxley’s inspiration...

Realize, Resist, Revolt (website for MIT-ers)

I Stumble(d)Upon this neat site for MIT-ers, or I guess anyone who questions what they’re told...and then analyzes the heck out of it.

Just click on an intriguing button, and there you have it: a summary of pretty much everything you already knew from being in this program.

And it has fun pictures!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Why, Infomercials? Why?!

Do you ever see those infomercials that highlight herbal remedies that no one knows about but "totally work"? There’s always the same Letterman-style set-up with a fake night-time city in the background, and some person no one’s ever heard of being interviewed by someone else no one's never heard of. The whole thing = cheesiness (especially when it's on during the day).

Here are some of the more ridiculous quotes from an infomercial for Veggie Cal D. From what I could gather, it’s some sort of combination of seaweed, calcium, and vitamin D.

Said product:

  • “is a natural medical insurance”
  • “is a super-supplement”
  • “is an insurance policy to better health”
  • “can reduce risk of cancer by up to 50%”
  • "is made from God-given nutrients”

From the interview:

  • “They (pharmaceutical companies) don’t want you to know about it.”
  • “I’m just reporting on what the scientific community is reporting on.”

In small print:

  • “Results not typical”
  • “Not tested by the Food and Drug Administration”
  • “Not intended to prevent diagnose, treat, or cure any disease”

I’m sold!

Vitamin DOr, maybe I could just drink some milk, eat some cereal (with more milk), and chill out in the sun instead of inside with these ridonculous twisting-of-the-truth-o-mercials.