Hackers broke into an electronic sign near Austin, TX to warn travellers about the zombie apocalypse! woo hoo!


posted at 8:32 pm on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 in Humour, Links | Comments Off on zombies?

nut allergy hysteria

Who would have thought that a threat to children would be exaggerated by parents, teachers, and the media? “Not I,” he said sarcastically…

“BBC News – Warning of nut allergy ‘hysteria'”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7773210.stm

bq. Measures to protect children with nut allergies are becoming increasingly absurd and hysterical, say experts.

bq. A peanut on the floor of a US school bus recently led to evacuation and decontamination for fear it might have affected the 10-year-old passengers.

bq. Professor Nicolas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School, told the BMJ there was “a gross over-reaction to the magnitude of the threat” posed by food allergies, and particularly nut allergies.

bq. In the US, serious allergic reactions to foods cause just 2,000 of more than 30 million hospitalisations a year and comparatively few deaths – 150 a year from all food allergies combined.

bq. Professor Christakis said the issue was not whether nut allergies existed or whether they could occasionally be serious. Nor was the issue whether reasonable preventative steps should be made for the few children who had documented serious allergies, he argued.

bq. “The issue is what accounts for the extreme responses to nut allergies.”

bq. He said these responses were extreme and had many of the hallmarks of mass psychogenic illness (MPI), previously known as epidemic hysteria.

bq. Often seen occurring in small towns, schools and other institutions, outbreaks of MPI involve healthy people in a flow of anxiety, most often triggered by a fear of contamination.

bq. Being around individuals who are anxious heightens others’ anxiety, leading to a self-perpetuating cycle which can spiral out of control.

(via “Bruce Scheier”:http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/12/nut_allergy_fea.html), who links to “Virginia Tech”:http://www.schneier.com/essay-171.html and “Thai Chili Sauce”:http://www.schneier.com/essay-195.html as other examples of MPI).

posted at 11:00 am on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 in Current Events, Links | Comments (2)
  1. Jeff K says:

    Not to slight the BBC, but there are a raft of things going on in British newspapers right now that seem very harmful and alarmist, mostly dealing with financial matters. Look around for “Britain bankruptcy”, “punish shareholders”, “end immigration”, “end public health-care”, “Nationalise all banks” (that 2nd last one is out of context, please be sure to read the source, er, “material”).

  2. chk says:

    British newspapers are more alarmist than most, ’tis true. But I’ve been seeing this level of irrational fear of nuts (and other things) around me and my kids for years, so I’ve started adding it to my blog. :)

internet threat overblown

Who would have thought that a threat to children would be exaggerated by parents, teachers, and the media? “Not I,” he said sarcastically…

I’m not sure how long this link will last, so check it out:

“Internet threat to minors overblown: study”:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090114.wgtminors0114/BNStory/Technology/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20090114.wgtminors0114

bq. The report, released on Wednesday, suggests that the biggest threats to children’s safety online may come from other children, and that their own behaviour could contribute to the trouble they encounter.

bq. “The risks minors face online are complex and multifaceted and are in most cases not significantly different than those they face offline,

bq. They said bullying and harassment, especially by peers, are the most frequent problem minors face both online and elsewhere.

As an aside, I’m particularly amused by the “fairness in reporting” content later in the article. The CEO of a company that _sells software_ to protect minors says that “more needs to be done”. I’m sure everyone agrees that he’s hopelessly biased, but modern journalistic standards require that both sides of a dispute be covered equally, regardless of the distribution of supporters to nay-sayers or the inherent bias of either parties.

Granted, my excerpts are probably biased too, so go read the article yourself. :)

posted at 11:00 am on Friday, January 16, 2009 in Current Events, Links, Security | Comments Off on internet threat overblown

Denis McGrath – Skins

“Denis McGrath”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denis_McGrath is a Canadian television writer and producer. A couple of years back my friend Debbie “interviewed him”:http://www.blogto.com/books_lit/2007/06/dead_things_on_sticks_denis_mcgrath/ about his career and about “Blood Ties”:http://www.bloodtiestv.com/, the television version of “Tanya Huff”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanya_Huff’s Blood books. I recently rediscovered him while catching up on Season 2 of “The Border”:http://www.cbc.ca/theborder/, and subscribed to his weblog (“Dead Things ON Sticks”:http://heywriterboy.blogspot.com/) after finding info about the show there.

Anyway, long story short, Denis “recommended”:http://heywriterboy.blogspot.com/2008/08/skins.html a British show called “Skins”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0840196/, which he described as

bq. the teen show that nobody in North America would have the guts to do. It makes Degrassi or 90210 look like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

It’s definitely not for everyone; it has the North American demons of nudity/sex, drugs, foul language, all involving (gasp!) teenagers. But it also has the magic trio of good writing, acting, and characters; I’ve found it quite compelling. I worked my way through the nine episode series 1 over the Christmas break, and I’m just starting series 2. You can find Skins in Canada on The SuperChannel (and yes, I hear you all saying “wow, it still exists?” :-).

Oh, and “Denis’ blog”:http://heywriterboy.blogspot.com/ is an excellent read if you’re at all interested in television in general, and Canadian television in particular.

posted at 1:33 pm on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 in Links, TV | Comments Off on Denis McGrath – Skins

choose your own video adventure

From “Chad, Matt, and Rob”:http://www.youtube.com/user/chadmattandrob comes a YouTube video version of Choose your own Adventure:

posted at 11:55 am on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 in Links | Comments Off on choose your own video adventure

sleep is good

“We’ll Fill This Space, but First a Nap”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/technology/28proto.htm?_r=1&oref=slogin

posted at 9:40 am on Wednesday, December 03, 2008 in Links, Science and Technology | Comments Off on sleep is good

internet takes over real world

The cartoon network managed to “rick-roll the Macy’s parade”:http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/wwdnbackup/2008/11/just-in-case-yo.html

(via Wil Wheaton).

posted at 9:13 am on Friday, November 28, 2008 in Humour, Links | Comments (1)
  1. Nita says:

    Yah – I saw this in a few places yesterday. Utterly brilliant for me, though I suspect confused the hell out of a lot of the non-internet savvy people…

orwell or huxley?

I saw this, and I had to share…

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.” —Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

(copied from “Will Shetterley”:http://shetterly.blogspot.com/2008/10/orwell-or-huxley.html)

posted at 8:36 am on Thursday, October 16, 2008 in Current Events, Links, Politics | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    “pain” and “fear” don’t seem to be quite the right words, although they are not completely wrong.

    It strikes me that people who write tend to make associations on paper not unlike the process of paranoid thought, and thus come off as “fear”. Its just a slightly unvarnished side to the creative process, in my humble opinion.

    The real problem is the unwillingness of people at large to re-establish the context of their beliefs as the context changes, or indeed if it is not known.

    Example: “Okay I want to write a book called ‘Clockwork Orange’ about the hedonism of violence and emotional music”. Director “Well, let’s make it into a movie for a buck”. Public: “Oh cool! Let’s beat the director up just like in the movie!”. Director: “Ban movie in Britain for life”.

    Pretty funny actually… (CWO was on a few days ago). Ain’t it sad knowing someone who’s been “cured”? [joke]

Google Reader

I’ve been using Google Reader for a while now, after finally becoming annoyed over some issues in SharpReader (understandable, since it is not being maintained anymore :-).


Google Reader allows me to share stuff I find interesting on a “web page”:http://www.google.com/reader/shared/15419747095041590871 and an “Atom Feed”:http://www.google.com/reader/public/atom/user%2F15419747095041590871%2Fstate%2Fcom.google%2Fbroadcast


posted at 6:25 pm on Monday, October 13, 2008 in Links | Comments Off on Google Reader


PETA, “People Eating Tasty Animals”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_Eating_Tasty_Animals is an organisation I can get behind! PETA, “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”:http://www.peta.org/, on the other hand, is not.

It’s not that I don’t support the ethical treatment of animals; I do, and PETA has exposed quite a few legitimate animal cruelty issues. But PETA’s mission seems to go far beyond reasonable! They seem to want people to stop using animal products in any way (food, clothing, etc.), which often drifts into the absurd:

“Mama’s milk ice cream cone, anyone?”:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080930.WGTMILK0930/BNStory/Technology/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20080930.WGTMILK0930

bq. PETA wants world-famous Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream to tap nursing moms, rather than cows, for the milk used in its ice cream.

I suppose as an attention-grabbing PR stunt, it’s brilliant. But really; what were they thinking when they came up with that one?

posted at 8:35 am on Wednesday, October 01, 2008 in Links | Comments (2)
  1. Nita says:

    I believe the phrase is “they were thinking they’d get exactly what they got” – free publicity and as far as I can tell, that’s PETA’s primary purpose in life.

  2. Alexis D says:

    PETA does not want Ben & Jerry’s to use Breast Milk–it was tongue in cheek. WoW, people really do go overboard with what is in print and take everything so literally. PETA has had great success in changing industry. Whether or not you agree with their tactics, the fact of the matter is that they get it done. There are several other animal welfare organizations out there that have accomplished little compared to PETA. People don’t read fine print, they don’t take notice of the soft spoken. People take notice of things that stand out—so Peta stands out and gets their attention anyway they can to get people aware of a situation and talking about it. Trying to get people to understand that animals are entitled to be free to live the way they were meant to is far from absurd.


Since I _know_ you all don’t have enough to do in your copious spare time, I give you “Chronotron”:http://www.kongregate.com/games/Scarybug/chronotron – a flash game in which you and your past selves work together to solve puzzles.

(mu ha ha!)

posted at 12:51 pm on Wednesday, September 10, 2008 in Links | Comments (2)
  1. Laurie says:

    And just when I was being productive… turns out me and my past self make a very good team! :)

  2. chk says:

    I’m glad to hear that you’re a team player :)

you can always count on gravity

“Evidence-based Medicine”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence-based_medicine sounds like a good thing, until you realize that sometimes collecting the data required causes more problems than it solves. These guys took this argument to an extreme:

“Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials”:http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/327/7429/1459?ijkey=425457f110f8db584617b87a1eace92eaa39ff02

bq. Conclusions As with many interventions intended to prevent ill health, the effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials. Advocates of evidence based medicine have criticised the adoption of interventions evaluated by using only observational data. We think that everyone might benefit if the most radical protagonists of evidence based medicine organised and participated in a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial of the parachute.

I’m sure they’ll get _lots_ of volunteers for the study… :-)

posted at 7:25 pm on Wednesday, September 03, 2008 in Health, Humour, Links, Science and Technology | Comments (2)
  1. Bob says:

    That article is brilliant! A bit over the top and stretched the analogy to breaking point but does make a valid point.

  2. chk says:

    Hey! you read my weblog! cool! :-)

The bonding gene

bq. …it’s too early for men to blame their inability to commit on a single gene, although Lucas guesses it’s an excuse that’s “certainly going to be used.”

“A study of Swedish twin brothers found that differences in a gene modulating the hormone vasopressin were strongly tied to how well each man fared in marriage.”:http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2008/09/01/bonding-gene-could-help-men-stay-married.html

(via “Diane Duane”:http://www.dianeduane.com/outofambit/)

posted at 7:50 am on Tuesday, September 02, 2008 in Health, Humour, Links | Comments Off on The bonding gene

weakest link

The Weakest Link

The Weakest Link

I thought I had posted this photo a long time ago, but I can’t find it now, so here it is again. (It came up on Fairly Oddparents this morning).

I first saw this on “Bruce Scheier’s security weblog”:http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/02/the_weakest_lin.html.

(As it turns out, I had uploaded it to Gallery, but still never linked it here. Must have been distracted. Damned kids, get off my lawn! :-)

posted at 9:11 am on Thursday, August 07, 2008 in Humour, Links, Security | Comments Off on weakest link

Dr. Horrible

Neil Patrick Harris is a god of understated comedy. Nathan Fillion is a perfectly over-the-top dumb hero. I loved the first installment; waiting for the next two!

Check it out at www.drhorrible.com before Sunday, after which you’ll have to pay. Of course, you should pay anyway to support the artists, but free lets you choose…

posted at 3:47 pm on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 in Links, TV | Comments Off on Dr. Horrible

Dr. Horrible

Coming soon to an Intertube near you:

Neil Patrick Harris! Nathan Fillion! Felicia Day! and, of course, Joss Whedon!

First episode goes live (and free!) on July 15th; second and third are each two days later, and the whole thing goes away (ok, behind a “give us money!” link) at midnight on July 20th.

posted at 4:01 pm on Wednesday, July 02, 2008 in Links, TV | Comments Off on Dr. Horrible


you’ve all heard of “lolcats”:http://icanhascheezburger.com/ by now, right? Well here are new, never before captured photos of “lolgrues”:http://www.eblong.com/zarf/lolgrues/ in teh wild…

(well, I laughed… :-)

posted at 9:03 am on Saturday, April 12, 2008 in Humour, Links | Comments Off on lol

episode one

“Episode One”:http://www.shadowunit.org/breathe.html of “Shadow Unit”:http://www.shadowunit.org/ is up. In case you were actually thinking of getting work done today…

posted at 11:24 am on Monday, February 18, 2008 in Links | Comments Off on episode one

steven wright

I found “wright house”:http://www.wright-house.com/steven-wright/steven-wright-jokes.html, a site that has a long list of so-called Steven Wright jokes. The difference? They’ve annotated the list; they mark jokes as authentic, or else name the comedian who actually said them.

“what’s another word for synonym”?

posted at 10:06 am on Sunday, January 20, 2008 in Links | Comments Off on steven wright


A completely over-the-top review of a Bic pen:

Amazon.co.uk: M. Williams “Matt Wil…’s review of Bic Crystal ballpoint pen, medium point, b…

Some of the comments on this review are equally hilarious:

bq. I often use pencils to write notes on paper, but have been thinking about changing to a pen. Is this pen a good starting point for a novice?

and so on…

posted at 11:11 am on Monday, December 10, 2007 in Humour, Links | Comments Off on giggle
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