Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What is Your World View? Quiz

It's an interesting quiz. Lots to think about as you answer the questions. The author does use some jargon at a few points, but it's not bad overall.

My results:

You scored as Cultural Creative, Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative

88%

Romanticist

50%

Postmodernist

50%

Existentialist

38%

Fundamentalist

31%

Idealist

31%

Modernist

19%

Materialist

19%

What is Your World View?
created with QuizFarm.com

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dont Feed the Trolls

OK, this is just crappy reporting by Newsweek. It's fearmongering with little hard evidence. All the authors probably did was a quick websearch to find what they wanted.

However, what seems completely lost on them is that comments left on blogs or social sites often do not reflect real-life viewpoints. Extreme viewpoints will often be the most visible, and it's very common for idiots to mimic that kind of thing in order to gain attention. It's much like kids who emulate Jackass by hurting themselves pulling stupid stunts, then post it on YouTube.

As with the theory by Penny Arcade (profanity warning) I previously mentioned, people act like complete morons when they feel they have a certain level of anonimity and an audience.

So, back to the blog I referenced initially. The offending comment was quoted as,
“Koreans are the most hotheaded and macho of East Asians,” wrote one unnamed commentator on the Sepia Mutiny blog. “They are also sick and tired of losing their Korean girlfriends to white men with an Asian fetish.”
Note that this guy isn't targeting Koreans in general, but Korean men, and is making the effort at an extra over-the-top jab with the comment about their girlfriends. That's the point. It's a juvenile attention-getting device: the guy is emulating racist behavior so that people will attack him. He probably thought that last part was pretty darn clever.

So, congratulations, Newsweek. You gave some stupid kid more fame than he could have hoped for just for making an ass of himself.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Disturbing Internet Behavior

The anonymity the internet can so easily provide has made for ups and downs. Some people feel enabled to express themselves in various good ways, and some just waste it by treating others like crap. I really hat to see cyberbullying get this disgusting. It's not an unusual problem on the internet, but this has been worse than most. Death threats are just unacceptable, and illegal for a reason.

Unfortunately, discovering the identity of this person may be quite difficult. It appears that this started with a script kiddie (a pejorative term for a hacker wannabe who just uses tools others develop) hijacking another blogger's computer.

This is not new behavior. A webcomic called Penny Arcade came up with their own theory for this behavior in 2004 (warning: profanity). Unfortunately, some people never develop much of a moral code beyond avoiding getting caught. I got to see this in retail, in which customers or employees would steal things the minute they thought no-one was looking.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

This is just silly.

I've seen stuff from 9/11 conspiracy theorists before, and, while I don't necessarily believe it, I could see how it would appeal to those so inclined. However, I am completely baffled by the way they seem to be rallying around the recent discovery that a BBC reporter apparently said that building 7 of the World Trade Center had fallen about 20 minutes beforehand. For them, it apparently is proof that the building was intentionally demolished using explosives, because someone apparently sent out a press release of some kind too early, or a reporter read from a script too soon.

Laying aside everything else a person may or may not believe about 9/11, there is only one word needed to poke a huge hole in this latest piece of "evidence": Why? Why would a press release be necessary, much less a script? Every camera that any news agency could find was being pointed in that direction by then, so why would it be necessary to script what is completely obvious to all? There was plenty of speculation for a large period of time beforehand regarding the expected fall of WTC 7, so everyone was already watching for it to happen. A press release or script would put the conspiracists in the delicate position of trusting that none of the large number of people involved in the media would expose them. Why would people supposedly smart enough to pull off such a massive attack under false pretenses do something so stupid?

I find it particularly bizarre the number of times I've seen this referred to as a "smoking gun" or some other reference to how conclusive this discovery is. Even if there is some kind of conspiracy, this has to be some of the worst evidence for it I've heard yet.



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Friday, February 16, 2007

Sometimes reading the article makes all the difference.

"Virgos have an increased risk of vomiting during pregnancy, Pisces have an increased risk of heart failure, and Libras have an increased risk of fracturing their pelvises, according to latest research." Sounds like the latest attempt to legitimize pseudoscience, right? Nope, it actually part of a study that "was conducted to highlight that research sometimes finds patterns even when there is no association in reality."

There is no shortage of people out there who will draw dubious conclusions from the latest research. This is essentially a parody of that. Statistics are an attempt to turn real life things into numbers, which is imperfect, and can produce anomalies, or may not mean what they seem at first glance.

"One way to reduce the chances of drawing a wrong conclusion is to try and reproduce unexpected results in further studies." However, a repeat of the study did not replicate the results, meaning that it is very unlikely that the statistical probabilities exist in real life. Sorry, astrologers of the world, this one doesn't really help you after all.



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Friday, January 19, 2007

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

I've recently been seeing quite a few ads for a children's book entitled Why Mommy is a Democrat, advertised as "The book George Bush doesn't want your kids to read!"

After checking out the website, I definitely wonder about the wisdom of the book. Obviously, I'm not going to question any parent's right to buy this book and read it to their children if they choose, nor their intentions in doing so. I just can't help but wonder why you would want to instill "Democrat" in a child, instead of focusing on the values themselves, and let them worry about party affiliation when they get older.

One thing that bothers me about the book is that, just based on the sample pages, it seems to oversimplify political positions a bit in a way that makes Democrats the "good guy." A children's book has to be simple, but giving a child a false impression of the world can sometimes make for more difficult explanations later.

Of course, I do have a rather different upbringing than many I know. My mom is a dedicated Republican, while my dad has been a longtime Democrat. Upon hearing of this, one of my friends once commented, "no wonder you're a moderate."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm Big in New Zealand

As part of a recent forum topic, I was doing a couple of Google searches on myself. My real name is fairly common, it seems, so I decided to look it up based on the nickname I commonly use: "Sxeptomaniac". The name is, so far, unique to me, but among the expected results, I got a bit of a surprise. It seems a columnist for the New Zealand Herald found some of my words worth quoting in an opinion piece about relaxed grammar and spelling online. I'm quoted right at the end of the piece:
While I was surfing the net, looking for English language massacres on message boards (they're there and simply too numerous to list), I found a great debate going on between Geek Culture forum members who were taking a new member to task for failing to use basic grammar and correct spelling in his postings.

Sxeptomaniac put it best: "Spelling and grammar are about organising your thoughts in ways that will make sense to others without requiring them to consciously work at it. That's why lack of grammar and spelling is seen as rude here; you're asking us to expend extra effort to read your posts, because you were too lazy to expend that effort yourself when typing them."

Couldn't have put it better myself.

It's pretty fun to find how a little comment of mine ended up in a newspaper all the way across the Pacific.

Of course, the part of me that is quite anal about my writing can't help but think how my wording could have been just a little bit better.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Barack Obama

I've recently been getting interested in the Draft Obama movement.

What I think really stands out about Obama for me is that he doesn't use hot-button issues the way many career politicians do. Many use little sound bites (involving easy, one-sided answers to complex problems) in order to signal to certain groups of people that he/she is "one of them." They then reinforce those kinds of opinions by repeatedly pushing those buttons in order to reinforce support among those who have the same view, while further alienating those who do not. It's the politics of the last 14 years.

I'm definitely ready for something different.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Never happier to be using Linux

I recently was reading through this article on Windows Vista's content protection. If it's even half as bad as the article suggests, Vista is going to be one of the worst operating systems ever. This article didn't have anything better to say.

Overall, Vista's content-protection functionality seems like an astonishingly short-sighted piece of engineering, concentrating entirely on content protection with no consideration given to the enormous repercussions of the measures employed. It's something like the PC equivalent of the (hastily dropped) proposal mooted in Europe to put RFID tags into high-value banknotes as an anti-counterfeiting measure, completely ignoring the fact that the major users of this technology would end up being criminals who would use it to remotely identify the most lucrative robbery targets.


I've never been happier to be an Ubuntu user. Unfortunately, if the author of the article is correct, I won't be able to dodge the increased hardware costs. If it is that bad, I suspect a new branch of hardware manufacturers dedicated to non-Windows users will open up.

Content protection is getting way out of hand. It's gotten to the point where it's often easier and safer to pirate content rather than purchase it. I'm going to stick with legal alternatives myself, but I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point, I end up buying protected versions of music or video, then downloading the pirated versions for actual use. If things continue down the present path, what option will I have left?

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I'm a Christian and political moderate (I tend to be more liberal on core issues and more conservative on the hot-button ones). I have a B.A. in Biblical and Religious Studies and Philosophy.