Some interesting comments:
I must say that the attitude of the anchordroids is pretty depressing. I mean, either this is a fake (intentional or not) OR it is paradigm shattering. Their reaction? “I dunno. Now sports.” Neither critical thinking nor intellectual (or even merely spiritual) excitement or engagement.
A gullible believer who actually thinks this is an angel would actually be an improvement over these idiots. At least the nutjob recognizes the potential importance of such a discovery. Instead they throw up their hands. No wonder all journalism is now he-said/she-said.
It’s a little odd to be dispassionate about a mystery, but “I don’t know” is often the best intellectual response. Without further investigation, how could the “anchordroids” have any meaningful opinion about what it is? Given that, “I don’t know” makes sense to me. Like them, I don’t know what it is, either.
“I don’t know” needn’t be a Twilight-zone phrase. When I say it, I don’t mean to imply that since I don’t know, it must be something unexplainable, supernatural or exotic. It’s probably something ordinary (like an insect on the lens). For me, “I don’t know” just means “I don’t know.
Agreed. But the homunculi mouthing these words weren’t offering it as an intellectual response. Like, they didn’t spend even a couple seconds asking questions and receiving baffling replies. They looked at something they didn’t understand and then, without even blinking, moved on to the next item on the agenda. They are dead inside.
They sure had time to make some lame X-Files and Ghostbusters “jokes”. Replace a single one of the hackneyed phrases with just a question like “did any one see it off-camera” and you’d have the glimmerings of real journalism.
Which brings me to…..
And people wonder why I’ve given up on TV…
Malcolm Gladwell has an interesting piece in this week’s New Yorker concerning criminal profilers, individuals who try to determine who a criminal is based on characteristics of the crime. The idea of criminal profiling has become very popular, with many television shows and movies based on the idea that a psychologist could divine the identity and motives of a killer. Gladwell explores whether these profilers really predict anything well, and in the process, compares the basic tricks used by psychics to criminal profilers:
A few years ago, Alison [author of "The Forensic Psychologist's Casebook"] went back to the case of the teacher who was murdered on the roof of her building in the Bronx. He wanted to know why, if the F.B.I.’s approach to criminal profiling was based on such simplistic psychology, it continues to have such a sterling reputation. The answer, he suspected, lay in the way the profiles were written, and, sure enough, when he broke down the rooftop-killer analysis, sentence by sentence, he found that it was so full of unverifiable and contradictory and ambiguous language that it could support virtually any interpretation.
Astrologers and psychics have known these tricks for years. The magician Ian Rowland, in his classic “The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading,” itemizes them one by one, in what could easily serve as a manual for the beginner profiler. First is the Rainbow Ruse–the “statement which credits the client with both a personality trait and its opposite.” (“I would say that on the whole you can be rather a quiet, self effacing type, but when the circumstances are right, you can be quite the life and soul of the party if the mood strikes you.”) The Jacques Statement, named for the character in “As You Like It” who gives the Seven Ages of Man speech, tailors the prediction to the age of the subject. To someone in his late thirties or early forties, for example, the psychic says, “If you are honest about it, you often get to wondering what happened to all those dreams you had when you were younger.” There is the Barnum Statement, the assertion so general that anyone would agree, and the Fuzzy Fact, the seemingly factual statement couched in a way that “leaves plenty of scope to be developed into something more specific.” (“I can see a connection with Europe, possibly Britain, or it could be the warmer, Mediterranean part?”) And that’s only the start: there is the Greener Grass technique, the Diverted Question, the Russian Doll, Sugar Lumps, not to mention Forking and the Good Chance Guess–all of which, when put together in skillful combination, can convince even the most skeptical observer that he or she is in the presence of real insight.
He then goes on to describe the results of a brainstorming session from three FBI criminal profilers in 1984 who were trying to solve the BTK murders. Their recommendations sound a lot like a cold read and were far off from the mark:
They had been at it for almost six hours. The best minds in the F.B.I. had given the Wichita detectives a blueprint for their investigation. Look for an American male with a possible connection to the military. His I.Q. will be above 105. He will like to masturbate, and will be aloof and selfish in bed. He will drive a decent car. He will be a “now” person. He won’t be comfortable with women. But he may have women friends. He will be a lone wolf. But he will be able to function in social settings. He won’t be unmemorable. But he will be unknowable. He will be either never married, divorced, or married, and if he was or is married his wife will be younger or older. He may or may not live in a rental, and might be lower class, upper lower class, lower middle class or middle class. And he will be crazy like a fox, as opposed to being mental. If you’re keeping score, that’s a Jacques Statement, two Barnum Statements, four Rainbow Ruses, a Good Chance Guess, two predictions that aren’t really predictions because they could never be verified–and nothing even close to the salient fact that BTK was a pillar of his community, the president of his church and the married father of two.
Here’s a help wanted ad from the local newspaper:
Someone to do a variety of tasks in small warehouse, no forklift. Must be able to lift and carry 50+pounds, day hours. No health insurance.”
The ad ends with a slogan: “A fun place to work.”
Maybe, if there’s a compressed air hose, they let you make fart noises in your armpit. Or maybe there’s a TV bolted to the wall above the grease-spattered microwave in the break room. And that, “No health insurance”? Sounds like a regular laugh riot.
Maybe you have to be able to lift 50+pounds because they stack the irony so high. Wouldn’t it be ironic, for example, if the front office person who wrote and placed the ad weren’t eligible for health insurance herself?
The up-by-the-bootstraps set consider jobs like this to be opportunities — a chance to grab that bottom rung and make something of yourself. And maybe that’s true. For all I know, this job is a rocket to the top of the heap. You’re picking and packing one day. You’re running the whole show the next.
But experience would lead you to believe that, for every individual who can turn a job like this into a rocket, there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people who can’t. They don’t have the intellect. They have other responsibilities. They get injured on the job. They’ve got a kid with health issues. Whatever.
The reality is that for the vast majority of Americans — especially young Americans — jobs like this offer little chance for advancement and no incentive to work hard. The company doesn’t care. It’s just a job, no matter how assiduously you apply yourself. It’s a paycheck without benefits. It’s day labor, nothing more.
This is the job market the Bush Economic Miracle has created. This is the future we are providing for Generation Screwed — and future Generations Screwed.
Help wanted. Menial labor, dead end job, no health insurance, no future.
In America — a fun place to work.
You’re fucked! The linked document is a very interesting development in the long battle between states and online retailers over whether or not online retailers must collect sales or use tax on items purchased by state residents. Well, the battle may be over, because New York state just dropped an atomic bomb. Long and short, ithe New York Department of Taxation and Finance issued a memorandum that essentially says that online retailers that have no other presence in New York could, nevertheless, be responsible for collecting and remitting sales taxes on all goods and services delivered in the state if they have “representatives” located in New York who solicit sales for the retailer (i.e., link to a retailer’s site) in exchange for a commission or referral fee. If so, then the online retailer must collect sales taxes on all sales of goods and services to New York, not just those that were generated through the representatives’ links to the retailer. Got that? Now think about the Amazon affiliate program. Exactly.
So after rereading the memo for the fourth time, I needed confirmation that it was, in fact, a big fucking deal. Could there possibly be a huge tax geek out there who would want to decipher this memorandum? Oh yes, yes there was.
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
~From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk
Researchers have found that low self-esteem and materialism are not just a correlation, but also a causal relationship where low self esteem increases materialism, and materialism can also create low self-esteem. The also found that as self esteem increases, materialism decreases. The study primarily focused on how this relationship affects children and adolescents.
Mad Magazine summed it up with the statement, “The only reason a great many American families don’t own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.”
Yes, but can your meteor do this?
The most powerful natural explosion in recent Earth history occurred on 1908 June 30 when a meteor exploded above the Tunguska River in Siberia, Russia. Detonating with an estimated power 1,000 times greater than the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima, the Tunguska event leveled trees over 40 kilometers away and shook the ground in a tremendous earthquake. Eyewitness reports are astounding. The above picture was taken by a Russian expedition to the Tunguska site almost 20 years after the event, finding trees littering the ground like toothpicks. Estimates of the meteor’s size range from 60 meters to over 1000 meters in diameter. Recent evidence suggests that nearby Lake Cheko may even have been created by the impact. Although a meteor the size of the Tunguska can level a city, metropolitan areas take up such a small fraction of the Earth’s surface that a direct impact on one is relatively unlikely. More likely is an impact in the water near a city that creates a dangerous tsunami. One focus of modern astronomy is to find Solar System objects capable of creating such devastation well before they impact the Earth.