Monthly Archives: December 2010

Podcasts good and bad

Do you have a favorite podcast? A podcast that you tried and hated? An idea for a podcast that should exist but doesn’t? And, do you know of a rating system for podcasts (and should there be one)? As a thought experiment, I propose a Podcast Quality index, or set of indexes. To start, let me propose a set of criteria to evaluate the negatives of a multi-person podcast involving a primary host and a number of co-hosts or guests.

Continue reading Podcasts good and bad

There are two species of African elephant

i-4df9f1c3f1b7fb5409a6d1704a0b7ef4-Elephant_SA_Laden_DSC_3664.jpgEveryone knows that there are two kinds of elephants in this world: Asian and African. The Asian is the only one that can be trained and the African ones live in harmony with their environment until hunters come by and shoot them. Scratch a little deeper, and the African bush elephant lives by destroying its environment and moving on to new areas, where it destroys that environment, cycling back to the original region over generational time; Both African and Asian elephants can be trained; and there are three, not two species of elephant in this world: Asian, African Bush, and African Forest. Once again, everything you know is wrong. But you knew that.
Continue reading There are two species of African elephant

Cody Killed Logan. I suppose that’s OK if this is the only way you can have your toys.

NOTE Since writing this post other versions of the story behind this tragic and unnecessary gun related death have emerged. See the comments below.

The conversation that emerged from this post is not obviated by the story being different, as that conversation is more general.

I am not suggesting that one particular version of the story or another is correct. You’ll have tobdo your own research on that.

i-47b70456266b024ff5be5f86a61f2fb1-12300884_11262009_1.jpgDid I say toys? Sorry, didn’t mean to prejudice the case. I meant “Legal Firearms For Protection Against Intruders and a Repressive Government.”
Continue reading Cody Killed Logan. I suppose that’s OK if this is the only way you can have your toys.

A whole pile of Evolution Education news

The annual Gallup Poll on how dumb Americans are has come out, and they got less dumb.

A new Gallup poll on public opinion about evolution hints at a slightly higher rate of acceptance of evolution in the United States over the years. Asked in December 2010 “[w]hich of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings,” 38% of the respondents accepted “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process,” 16% accepted “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process,” and 40% accepted “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

Details here.

Continue reading A whole pile of Evolution Education news

What is the ideal camera for the person who… well, you know….

The person who never seems to be able to operate, or be happy with, these modern digital cameras. The person who more often says “Oh, I’m so upset, I couldn’t get a picture of that because this damn camera never works right” or the person who goes to take a shot but then quietly puts the camera away realizing it’s full and remembering that one does not quite know what one does when the camera is full. And so on.
Continue reading What is the ideal camera for the person who… well, you know….

This is your LAST CHANCE for holiday shopping

(If you’re mailing your presents and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg.)

As part of my annual service to my readers who can’t think of what to give to those friends and relatives who insist on exchanging gifts this time every year, I present two categories of goodies, cheap and not so cheap. For additional ideas see these posts.
Continue reading This is your LAST CHANCE for holiday shopping

Technology news and information

Dropbox has reached version 1.0, which does not sound impressive, but is. Dropbox is a free or paid for file syncing service that totally kicks but. Try it out. The new version fixes various problems and significantly improves performance, but most importantly allows selective syncing, so you can have a subset of your files synced on a specific computer. (It was already true that you had a selective, as in file by file, syncing on mobile devices.) Seriously, of all the technologies out there, Dropbox is at the top of my list of software that made my life easier. Everything is always accessible on all computers (selectively, if I want, as of now) and backed up on the cloud. Whatever that is.

Opera has reached version 11 and apparently includes all sorts of bells and whistles including tab stacking. I’m not sure what that is, but I want it. I don’t use Opera, but Opera fans are almost as loyal as Oprah fans, so there must be some merit to it. Some details here.

As you know, Homeland security is dropping the color-coded Threat Assessment Alert thingie. This is a terrible disappointment, as it was the only way we could always feel part of the paranoia on a grand scale. Never mind that it was stuck on one color since it started. Well, a DIY geek has adapted the Biegert&Funk Qlocktwo design (which itself is interesting) to make a DHS tribute threat level indicator. Fire up your soldering irons!

This is not exactly, or at least overtly, technology, but you might like it. Cablegate is now a game, and you can play!


A friend of mine has asked me to spread the word that we are looking for a missing person, Joe Sjoberg (pronounced Show-Berg). He is probably in the upper Midwest somewhere.



Right now the last true piece of evidence had him in Madison, but we’ve heard of car sightings in Minnesota.

Its likely he’s in Wisconsin but he could be anywhere as he’s been missing for almost a week. If you’re in the MN-WI Area Please Print This Flyer and Post It Around:

Joe Sjoberg (pronounced: SHOW-BERG) has been missing since Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

He lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Joe was last seen on the near East side of Madison, WI. Baldwin at Sherman. The police are involved and are doing all they can,

Joe is about 5’10, 180-200 lbs. He has short (not very short) brown hair and greenish eyes. He had about three or four weeks worth of beard when I last saw him.

May be wearing a hoodie, maybe a ski jacket.

He took his grey shoes with red trim; they’re casual sneakers, a bit beat up.

Joe drives a GREY ’91 Caprice with Washington state plates 513-WYN which is also missing.


OR EMAIL sjobergpatrick AT gmail DOT com


How to make homeopathy work

Homeopathy involves the acquisition of a substance often chosen because of its harmful nature (but sometimes for other reasons) followed by the dilution of that substance, or an extract of it, in water numerous times until the substance itself is essentially gone, but the memory of the substance is retained by the water. This water, with the memory, is then considered by homeopathic practitioners to be an effective treatment for various conditions.

The basic principle of using a harmful substance to produce a sort of counter-reaction, or a beneficial reaction, is interesting. And, the idea of using some sort of organic memory is also interesting and potentially quite effective, if it can be pulled off. Most of my colleagues in science-based skepticism dismiss homeopathy as inconsequential and ineffective, in part because there are no double blind controlled studies with usable sample sizes, properly selected samples, appropriate statistics and biologically sensible analyses demonstrating effectiveness, and because there is no evidence of water having “memory” or of a substance diluted into non existence having an effect. But I think they may have given up too easily on this idea, and there is a way to make homeopathy work. We just have to change a couple of the parameters.

First, the substance that is used in dilute form needs to be a biologically potent substance, and not just some thing someone thought might work. For instance, if you take silica based crystals such as quartz and grind them up into a powder and ingest the powder in small quantity, there will be either minimal effect or a small effect similar to consuming a dose of fiber supplement. I don’t recommend trying this, because if the crystal contained certain minerals then the substance could be quite poisonous, and even if the powder is 99.9999999 percent silica, silica powder can be harmful (if inhaled). However, from the point of view of how natural systems work, crystal per se should have little effects by itself, especaily if ground up.

On the other hand, organic substances, those that are made up of cells or parts of cells, can have very powerful natural effects. This is because the body contains natural molecules that interact not only with each other, but also with natural molecules of organic origin that are introduced into the body. And, most interesting, it has been demonstrated in many studies that these reactions can literally change, in a natural and organic way, the body’s natural molecules. Furthermore, and this may seem hard to believe but it is really quite wonderful and proved in many studies, but the molecules in the body that are changed can “learn” to assist cells in making more molecules that, in turn, are changed in the same way. I’m oversimplifying a bit, but I think you may have already guessed where I’m going with this: The introduction of certain organic natural materials into the body can result in the body developing a long term memory of those molecules. Studies have shown that this memory, in many cases, lasts a lifetime, or at least, for several decades.

So, we have all the homeopathic elements: Substances that can be very potent, processed so they are in small concentration, introduced into the body, causing a memory reaction not in the water the substance was originally mixed in, but IN THE BODY ITSELF using purely natural and organic bodily processes. This memory will last a life time, or nearly so. In this way, a properly selected natural organic substance can cause a highly desirable re-conformation, in a totally natural and organic way, of the body’s reaction to stresses that originate from the outside.
Continue reading How to make homeopathy work