Friday, 18 December 2009

Crank magnetism revisited

Not so long ago I wrote about crank magnetism, the origin of the word, and its meaning. In short it refers to the propensity of cranks in one area to support cranks spouting unrelated nonsense. Their shared dislike of science appears to instill a mutual attraction, which was recently coined vindication of all kooks. Or, put differently, if science can be proven wrong in case of evolution, that alone proves it is also wrong on global warming. Needless to say there is some sort of logical fallacy hiding in there. Today I realised another meaning of the concept: being a crank renders the most notorious sceptics impotent in repelling hogwash and, like moths to a flame, turns them into their disciples.

That is, the "climate sceptics" have converted Randy. Because he was previously being regarded The Master of the Known Universe of Scepsis, Orac notes that Randy's recent adoption of a less sceptical worldview is already being used by the anti-science movement to discredit the current scientific consensus.

Should you still need more information showing why there is no real scientific debate on this topic just read, and study, the following articles: How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic, Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense, 50 reasons why global warming isn't natural, The Global Warming Skeptics vs. The Scientific Consensus.

Update. Clearly the "controversy" surrounding global warming is linked to scientists refusing to "teach the controversy" regarding evolution. Yet another incarnation of the classic form of crank magnetism.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Happiness and prosperity vs. religion: not a match made in heaven

The Library Grape cites a study which establishes that:
countries with the highest levels of happiness and prosperity are also the least religious and most secular:
Oddly enough, people still insist that being an atheist makes you immoral and will invoke the end of days, the Wrath of Khan, or whatever fictitious punishment.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Just read this post, by Orac, making minced meat of the plausability of the new homeopathy for the 21st century.

Update: apparently the W.H.O. also has a point of view.

Update II: Sandwalk plugs a new website, "Homeopathy: There's nothing in it," which offers arguments for why homeopathy is just a placebo.


Confronted with a cornu copiae of disinformation, and a scientifically-challenged public, Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives, by Michael Specter, is mandatory reading. In the words of The New York Skeptic:
To me, this is a great book to show to a non-skeptical friend.  It lays out our views, even quotes a lot of our guys, without coming across as condescending or arrogant.  It lays out the case for science in a clear and compassionate way, forming a wonderful bridge between the skeptical mindset and a non-skeptical audience.
In case you were looking for that intelligent Christmas gift: this is it.

Don't forget The Age of Stupid, among others, which I consider to be complementary to this book.

Monday, 14 December 2009


Yet another post for you with some advise. Previously I suggested several programs enhanceing security on your computer, today free multimedia recources are the topic. These are my personal favourites, so in no way should this be considered a comment on the quality of others that are not mentioned.

Foobar: can be used as audio player, I just use it to convert music files.
KMPlayer: see below under video.
MediaMonkey: great for updating tags for your musicfiles, capable of converting to other formats (i.e. flac, wav to mp3 ) more details here.
VLC Player: see below under video.
Windows Media Player: can update your tags but cannot play all formats, nor can it convert files.

DivX Player: do not use it for playing video, merely its codec function should you insist on using Windows Media Player.
KMPLayer: easy to use, has numerous internal codecs and as such capable of playing all the videofiles I have. Added benefit, subtitles for those pesky foreign films!
VLC Media Player: most consider this the best available, although less userfriendly than the KMPlayer. Has numerous internal codecs and as such capable of playing all the videofiles I have. Added benefit, subtitles for those pesky foreign films!
Windows Media Player: since I discovered the KMPlayer, and the VLC Media Player, I no longer use this for video files.

Open Subtitles: when you are looking for subtitles for those unintelligible languages. How to use them is explained here.

eMule: not fast, but lots of music archives. 
Tribler: nice simple 
Vuze: great for video

Restoring seperate media tracks from one single file
A CD may be ripped into one single large copy, usually a flac or ape-file. Extracting individual tracks, or splitting, is easy using Foobar. You will need a so-called cue-file. This contains the relevant information telling Foobar, or some other program, where the tracks start and end, and also what their tags are. When you open it with Notepad, or any other text-editor, it looks somewhat like this:
TITLE "Album title"
PERFORMER "Name of artist"
FILE "filename.ape" APE
    TITLE "First track title"
    PERFORMER "Name of artist"
    INDEX 01 00:00:00
    TITLE "Second track title"
    PERFORMER "Name of artist"
    INDEX 01 06:42:00
    TITLE "Third  track title"
    PERFORMER "Name of artist"
    INDEX 01 10:54:00
    TITLE "Fourth track title"
    PERFORMER "Name of artist"
    INDEX 01 17:04:00
    TITLE "Fifth track title"
    PERFORMER "Name of artist"
    INDEX 01 25:44:00
    TITLE "Sixth track title"
    PERFORMER "Name of artist"
    INDEX 01 30:50:00
    TITLE "Seventh track title"
    PERFORMER "Name of artist"
    INDEX 01 38:24:00
(Note: the file in this example is an ape-file, make sure that the coloured words, in the above example ape and APE, are the same. Should the file, you are splitting, be a wav-file then change both into wav and WAV. Save the changed file. INDEX identifies the points in time the tracks are located in the single file, here "filename.ape".)
If you have no tags (in the above example TITLE and PERFORMER) just extract the tracks, and either add them manually or find them using MediaMonkey (I like it, but you can use others such as Windows Media Player too). What to do with those cue-files is explained here. (Note: the links I use, in this post, may discuss other software, ignore it and use either Foobar or MediaMonkey. They work the same way and are from sites I know and trust) In short, if you open the cue-file in Foobar it will show you the tracks. Select them and choose convert, i.e. into mp3.

With the above in mind you can listen to your expanded music library or start watching those great films. Have fun!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

My collection of films

To share my current collection of DVD's with you, and as a record for myself, here is the list.

De Eetclub
De Ontdekking van de Hemel 
Het Meisje met het Rode Haar
Soldaat van Oranje
Être et Avoir   
Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tis
Sous le Sable
Avant L'Hiver    
L'Homme Qui Amait Les Femmes
Les Amant De Pont-Neuf         
Le Hérisson 
La Tourneuse de Pages
Je Vais Bien, Ne T'En Fais Pas 
L'Empreinte de l'Ange
Il y a Longtemps Que Je T'Aime    
Les Âmes Grises
Le Temps Qui Reste
Code Inconnu
Mémoires Affectives
Voleurs de Cheveaux 
La Haine
Un Prophète
Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Blanc, Rouge    
Les vacances de M. Hulot    
Mon Oncle    
Los Amantes del Círculo Polar
En la ciudad sin límites
La Noche de los Girasoles
Son de Mar 
La Ardilla Roja  
Lucia y el Sexo
Abre los Ojos
Amores Perros     
El Secreto de sus Ojos    
Todo Sobre Mi Madre    
Hable Con Ella    
Slipp Jimmy Fri     
Agata e la Tempesta
La Doppia Ora
Non Ti Muovere
Trilogy of life:     
Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma
Cidade de Deus    
Depuis qu'Otar est parti...  
Возвращение, Vozvrashcheniye      
Андрей Рублёв         
Tallinn pimeduses        
The Merchant of Venice
Romeo and Juliette
Richard III
The Cook, The Thief, The Wife and Her Lover
The Insider
In The Name of the Father
The People vs. Larry Flint
All the President's Men
Mississippi Burning
Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner
In the Heat of the Night
Cry Freedom    
Malcolm X  
The Cotton Club 
Citizen Kane
Lawrence of Arabia  
The Elephant Man
Ole Bull
Death in Venice
The Mission
The Great Gatsby
Death of a Salesman
On the Waterfront
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
The Manchurian Candidate
Apocalypse Now
Easy Rider
Back To The Future I-III
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
A Christmas Carol
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Silent Running
Flight of the Navigator
The Dark Crystal
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Lord of the Rings Trilogy I-III
Lord Greystoke
The Last of the Mohicans  
The Dark Knight Trilogy 
V for Vendetta
2001: A Space Odyssey
Alien I-IV  
Star Wars I-VI
Ex Machina
Blade Runner 
Terminator I-II  
The Matrix Trilogy I-III
The Thirteenth Floor
91/2 Weeks
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Remains of the Day
The English Patient
Clouds of Sils Maria     
When Harry Met Sally
As Good As It Gets
Don Juan De Marco
Before Trilogy:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Sex, Lies and Videotape
American Beauty
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Being There
The Machinist
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Donnie Darko
Angel Heart
The Weight of Water
Fight Club
Sleepy Hollow
The Name of the Rose
The Blair Witch Project
Wisdom of Crocodiles
The Ninth Gate
The Sixth Sense
12 Monkeys
12 Angry Men   
And Justice for All
3 Days of the Condor
The Parallax View 
Gosford Park  
LA Confidential
The Usual Suspects
The Godfather Trilogy I-III
Once Upon a Time in America
Donnie Brasco
Ghost Dog
The Bourne Trilogy:
The Sting
The Italian Job   
Reservoir Dogs
Pulp Fiction
Very Bad Things
Blue Ruin    
American Psycho
Natural Born Killers
Henry 1 & 2
Kiss Before Dying
Mystic River
The Life of David Gale
The Blackadder
Black Books   
Gimme Gimme Gimme
Will & Grace
Married with Children
The Wonder Years    
St. Elsewhere
Due South
The Wire   
White Collar   
The Power of Nightmares 


Update: added some titles in June 2010.

Update II: added more titles in February 2011.

Update III: added more titles in May 2011.

Update IV: added more titles in September 2015.


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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas in Norway

Having planned a white christmas in Norway, following a wet summer there, I was pleased to see Santa, E.T., or some other fata morgana, reportedly already arrived.(h/t/ Greg Laden)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Media do not check for false reporting

Deltoid shows us yet another example of the myriad of articles in the media that lack any fact-checking. The Washington Post dutifully, and uncritically, lets Sarah Palin spout erroneous statements without any caveats. That is: they fail to tell us Mrs. Palin has no idea what she is talking about eventhough their own article on climategate clearly contradicts her words. But hey, a journalist has to be objective and present both sides.

In light of that I am utterly not-surprised by what Library Grape discovered.

Update. Of course, Glenn is pointing out the same intellectual deficiency in the media.

Update II. Island of Doubt remarks:
Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the journal Science, in an op-ed published in today's Washington Post, excoriates Sarah Palin for her illterate essay, published earlier this week, on the topic of climate change. (Amended citation slightly for style, PNN)
Why is that people like Leshner should be compelled to respond to people like Palin, when the latter is clearly not in a position to offer informed observations?
It must be the widespread notion that anybody is entitled to his opinion, and every opinion has to be treated as if qualifications, or lack thereof, on the topic in no way influence the validity of such an opinion.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Andrew Wakefield's nonsense fails again

Yet another study refutes the claimed causal relationship between vaccination and autism. Science-Based Medicine has the details.

Update. Orac explains the ins and outs of this study with the same article. Maybe one under his real name and a copy using his pseudonym?

Friday, 4 December 2009

New partnership promoting science

From ScienceBlogs:
It is our great pleasure to bring you news of an exciting new partnership, starting today, between ScienceBlogs and National Geographic
Looking forward to reading their articles.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The 50 best Christmas gifts for women

In case you are still looking for that special thing to surprise her with this Christmas: look no further. The Independent and The Times are there to save the day in your hour of need.

Countering this The Guardian shows us the worst Christmas presents, and in The Times we find the 10 best gadgets.