Category Archives: Stuff

The JCB song

You might have seen this already, you might not, but it’s truly lovely, and they want to get to number one in the UK charts this Christmas. Good luck to ’em:

The JCB song

The video is a great piece of animation and the song is adorable. Do you get the impression that I like this?

Goth poems

Goth poetry is easy: all you need is rhyming couplets and the words ‘dark’, ‘soul’, ‘night’, and ‘black’. Past that you get bonus points for the inclusion of ‘abyss’ and any classical mythology reference you can think of. Bear in mind that the classical reference doesn’t actually have to make sense, only to fit in the rhyming scheme. Let’s try this:

Oh my soul,
Lost in a hole,
Of darkness and melancholy,
Like the dress on a depressed dolly,
Raging in the abyss,
My anger I miss,
Like Eve’s first kiss,
That is my heart’s wish.

Hurrah for Goth poems!

Go drugs, go!

‘Give me a D! Give me an R! Give me a U!’ Err…

Possibly one of the most amusing things I’ve read in the New York Times for quite a while:

On Sundays she works the sidelines for the Washington Redskins. But weekdays find her urging gynaecologists to prescribe a treatment for vaginal yeast infection.

Apparently cheerleaders are being recruited to be drugs sales representatives. No, that’s not ‘reprezentin’ da streets posse’ or something like that, the cheerleaders are going around to (predominantly male) doctors to encourage them to stock particular brands of pharmaceuticals. I presume that they aren’t asked to do this in their previous uniform, but from the sound of things the doctors may get to see it as a side benefit if they place a large enough order.

You’ve got to admire the optimism of this person though:

Dr. Carli, who notes that even male drug representatives are athletic and handsome, predicts that the drug industry, whose image has suffered from safety problems and aggressive marketing tactics, will soon come to realize that “the days of this sexual marketing are really quite limited.”

Yes, I think that marketing things with sex is definitely getting old, it’ll never last. In ten years everything will be sold by ugly people in dirty rags, that’s the future of marketing! … Or perhaps not.

“The cheerleaders now are the top people in universities; these are really capable and high-profile people,” said Gregory C. Webb, who is also a principal in a company that runs cheerleading camps and employs former cheerleaders.

So there’s no conflict of interests there. Call me crazy if you like, but I fail to see why a cheerleader would logically be in ‘the top people in universities’. I see no reason why physical health, a strong relationship with attractive individuals, and standardised beauty would not mean that you are intelligent enough to be among the top people, and these things do suggest that in our aesthetic world they will probably do well, but they are also people who have to train very hard and so generally will have less time to dedicate to their studies, making them less likely to be academically successful. There is also the possibility that they have survived on performed charm, so they may be academically weaker than other students. These things apparently don’t matter for a person whose job is to convince doctors of the benefits of drug choices. Are you feeling worried yet?

Speaking of conflict of interests:

“Obviously, people hired for the work have to be extroverts, a good conversationalist, a pleasant person to talk to; but that has nothing to do with looks, it’s the personality,” said Lamberto Andreotti, the president of worldwide pharmaceuticals for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Ah, so the people defending this are all coincidentally involved in drug sales? Spooky. It sounds like doctors are getting some very wrong messages too:

One informal survey, conducted by a urologist in Pittsburgh, Dr. James J. McCague, found that 12 of 13 medical saleswomen said they had been sexually harassed by physicians.

And in a final twist of feminism, here’s Novartis:

But there have been accusations that a pharmaceutical company encouraged using sex to make drug sales. In a federal lawsuit against Novartis, one saleswoman said she had been encouraged to exploit a personal relationship with a doctor to increase sales in her Montgomery, Ala., territory. In court papers responding to the lawsuit, Novartis denied the accusation. The company has also said it is committed to hiring and promoting women.

Shouldn’t that be ‘the company has also said it is committed to hiring and promoting sexy women’?

This is all a logical extension of capitalism in a health system. You make a product, then to sell the product you package it in an appealing way. When you are selling drugs the boxes are never going to be sexy (and will often be the complete opposite) so instead you get human packaging. I’m more than a little troubled by the way that these people, attractive men are in this profession too, are being turned into an extension of a commercial product. It’s not quite prostitution but these companies are pimping out people because of their bodies and looks, it’s just that the sexual acts are not strictly encouraged as dessert. How long before lap-dancers are being recruited too?

I’m sure that there are many women like Ms. Napier, the former Kentucky cheerleader:

she was so concerned about the cute-but-dumb stereotype when she got her job that she worked diligently to learn about her product, Prevacid.

I also don’t doubt that there are many others that survive simply on their looks. There was legislation proposed to make sure that drugs salespeople had a degree in the sciences, but this was rejected. I can see why, how many scientists study so that they can go into sales? Despite this logical reason, it has allowed an unsavoury practise to continue.

Who is stealing the lamp-posts?

This one definitely ranks in the ‘how are they getting away with that?’ category of crime.

In Baltimore a gang are stealing the lamp-posts, most probably to sell them for scrap. These people clearly know what they’re doing, and they’re not totally irresponsible either:

Left behind are half-foot stubs of metal, with wires that carry 120 volts neatly tied and wrapped in black electric tape.

So they drive up, sometimes disguised in workmen outfits, chop down the 30 foot pole, and then carefully secure off the dangerous wires so no-one gets hurt. Odd.

They would be getting 35 cents for a pound of scrap aluminium, so probably make a few hundred out of the poles, which is pretty annoying for the city because they cost around $156,000 to replace. Ouch. There are probably a few taxpayers who would rather the thought of electrocution from unsealed wires than the $20,280,000 bill that currently stands to replace the ones that have been stolen, so perhaps the gang’s social conscience isn’t that strong. Currently the police have no idea who is doing it either, and I have images of Chief Wiggum in my head: ‘That’s good stealin’ boys.’

The gang is clearly very organised, but you can’t help but wonder what they might achieve if the same level of ingenuity were applied to a legitimate business. Alternatively they could take the crime to the next level and start sending ransom notes to the city demaning $100k in return for every lamp that they don’t steal. Now that’s thinking outside of the box.


Money grabbing!

Would you want to use an investment company that, while telling you that they work hard for your money, finds time to make a cover version of a Donna Summer hit from 1983? This ranks among the most amusingly bad corporate videos I have ever seen, although it is car-crash hypnotic. Just try looking away once you’ve started watching, you can’t because you don’t want to miss the next embarassing bum wiggle or faux-jolliness of the poor investment staff forced into creating the video.

Watch and bemoan the further deterioration of humanity.


Sucker Bet – more on Intelligent Design

I’ve had the pleasure of being friends with the Oregon-based author T. G. Browning for a few years now. He has proposed a very sensible idea to help move on the Intelligent Design/Evolution debate. Over to T. G.:

Okay folks, listen up. This is a plea, not a rant. The entire debate
about the Kansas School Board decision has shifted away from the real
core of the debate. I’m asking everyone who reads this to send it on
to at least three other people with a note suggesting that the
recipients do the same.

Intelligent Design (ID) adherents keep saying they simply want to
teach the debate. It’s time to do just that. But how?
The answer is so simple that no one has actually suggested it until
now; at least, not in the terms Americans are most familiar and
comfortable with.


I propose the following: A cash fund, administered by an impartial
panel that represents both sides, with the money to be awarded to
anyone who can put together a scientific experiment that has a
reproducible result.

The debate is whether or not ID can function as a scientific theory or
not. The fund would be presented to the first person or organization
that could propose an experiment that passes scientific peer review
guidelines and proves – or disproves – any prediction of the ID
theory. If ID truly is a scientific theory, then it must make
predictions that can be tested. Let’s accept that at face value and
let the chips fall where they may.

If this sounds familiar, it is. A similar proposal has been in place
for a number of years for any paranormal claim. The magician, James
Randi, has offered a cash award for years, to anyone who could
demonstrate under controlled, double blind conditions, any occurrence
of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition or telekinesis. No winners
have come forward to claim the money.

I’ll be upfront here. This is a sucker bet, because ID is not science
in any way, shape or form. It makes no predictions that I’m aware of
and no ID adherent has ever proposed any experiment, ever. Why?
Because there are no predictions to test.

I’m not rich, unfortunately, and can’t put up a huge cash prize, but I
will go so far as to put up $250 as seed money. I’m forwarding this
proposal to the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims
of the Paranormal (CSICOP) with a request for others to start putting
money together. Perhaps someone rich who has demonstrated a concern
for science education in this country will also put up money. [Bill
and Melinda Gates come to mind. Over the past decade, the two of them
have shown a great deal of sense and civic concern.] My goal would be
a cash award of $1,000,000. That’s enough money to make the idea
attractive to even the most cynical of ID adherents.

God knows I could be wrong. Perhaps some very smart, incisive person
can think of an experiment that would actually test Intelligent Design
as a scientific theory. I’d be the first to applaud such a test. I
don’t look for any such test in the near future, however, and will
make a non-psychic prediction for you all. None will be put forth.

I strongly doubt that Michael Behe, William Dembski and Jonathan Wells
(three big name ID proponents), will back such a proposal because the
truth of the matter is that Behe and his fellow ID advocates know full
well that no such test is possible.


Because ID is not science.

It’s a simple as that.

New Doctor Who tonight

I like charity as much as the next sensible person (did I just describe myself as sensible? *shudders*) but I think that Children In Need has to be some bizarre form of punishment sent by the gods upon uncharitable people that accidentally inflicts itself on everyone else. It’s a bit like passover where you didn’t get the ‘blood on the door’ memo. Personally I’d happily pay them to not show it.

Anyway, slightly bizarre metaphors aside, during the hell-of-televisions that is Children In Need on BBC1, tonight they will be showing a new epsiode of Doctor Who. It’ll be the first episode featuring the new Doctor, David Tennant, and it bridges the gap between the last episode of last series and the Christmas special that will be shown next Easter.* The planned time for its showing is 9pm, but, being one of those charity-telethon thingys, that time might move around a bit. This does mean that fans are going to have to suffer some ‘hilarious’ and ‘worthwhile’ programming before seeing the thing we’re interested in. Oh well.

*Not really. They’re showing it next Halloween instead.

More crazed elks + squirrels!

For some reason a Swedish couple decided that parking their bicycle in front of their flower bed would prevent a local elk from destroying their roses. The elk, nicknamed ‘Droopy Ear’ (attempts at an interview have failed so we don’t know his elkish name, or should that be elken?), noticed that a small, light object was in the way and continued to eat the flowers on his next visit before continuing on his way. Unfortunately for the bicycle, it went with him and was found half a kilmetre away, bent out of shape. (Cheers to Hels for this and the previous elk fun source)

I’d love to have a combination of this elk and the drunken ones: I can imagine them riding around town on the bike, perched on each-others’ shoulders on a fermented-apple and rose fuelled rampage.

In related ‘news’, squirrels may be digging up crack-dealers’ stashes. Apparently dealers have taken to burying their goods in peoples’ gardens so they don’t have to carry so much around with them in case they’re searched. Squirrels have then been spotted digging up the same areas… The thing that really amuses me is that there is absolutely no evidence for the squirrels actually finding and consuming any of the drugs (which would almost certainly kill them near-instantly), but it still became a story anyway. For some reason I often find slightly bored journalists much more amusing than earnest ones. Source here.

New Royal Crest revealed!

This gave me a bit of a giggle:

the Department of Social Scrutiny is delighted to announce the adoption of a new Royal Crest which, we believe, mirrors the true values of Modern Britain and is set to make everything OK again.

It only takes a couple of minutes to read and is quite accurate, especially the meaning of the Overlion. Linkidy link link.

2 Unlimited still have fans! Who admit it!

Do you remember 2 Unlimited? Their songwriting still is used as a representation of some of the worst aberations of techno lyrics. For those who don’t know them, the chorus of ‘No Limits’ went something like this:

No no,
No, no no no no,
No, no no no no,
No no,
There’s no lim-its!

Well, apparently there are still people out there that love 2 Unlimited, and they’ve put photos of themselves on the web! My personal favourite is the deadly serious Guillaume from France who looks a like like he failed the audition for The Machinist (UK link US link).

Perhaps it’s the tag-line that really brings this to a new level ‘You’re not alone : 2 unlimited fans are all here !!’

Sometimes the web throws you a gem and you just can’t help but marvel at variety of humanity.

Google logos

Here’s something to while away 3o seconds with:

Google’s holiday logos.

It’s a collection of the logos that Google have used to celebrate various days with links to the ones from previous years. Today’s one, marking the end of Western conflict in the First World War, isn’t on there yet but will no doubt appear soon.

I hope all you UK people purchased a poppy!

Drunken elks!

No, that’s not a Batman TV series-style exclamation, it was a problem for an old people’s home in Sweden. A pile of apples had begun to ferment and a couple of elks got drunk on it and started causing trouble! Full story here.

Technically there’s not actually anything very amusing about this, but I just find the idea of drunken elks funny for some reason. No? Maybe it’s just me then.

Silly Christians, sensible Christians, and a (probably) silly scientist

This is a post about a few things. Firstly, the trial of Intelligent Design (ID) that’s just rounding up in the US, and secondly about some other Christians saying very reasonable and sensible things (because it’s about time some sensible Christians got in the news), coming third a scientist saying some rather odd and possibly quite silly things, and then to finish off we’ve got the Catholic Church saying some very sensible stuff.

The story so far, in case you’ve not been following it is this: in Dover, Pennsylvania, 11 parents have objected to the teaching of ID in classrooms using textbooks purchased with money raised by a local church, saying that it’s simply a thin veil for Creationism. I do wonder why it’s always assumed that it’s Christian Creationist theory. Personally I’d be really amused if all the children decided that ancient Egyptian mythology is the most likely source of the universe, when viewed from an ID perspective, and all began worshipping Isis… But I digress.

The trial has been rounding up, with the defence lawyer (in favour of Creatio… I mean, ID being taught in classes) arguing that ID represents ‘the next great paradigm shift in science’. Would that be a new paradigm that rejects scientific method, the basis of all known science, and replaces it with faith? Ah yes, that would certainly be a big change. Hm. On a linguistic note, be wary of people who use the word ‘paradigm’ when talking about the present, they are usually predicting the future with a notorious lack of accuracy.

Source here.

So, enough with the silly Christians, and on to some sensible ones.

Working on the basis of Genesis 2:15, ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’, the National Association of Evangelicals is working on a campaign to make the US government restrict carbon emissions due to their strong links with global warming. This is an interesting one, because Christians in the US are heavily affiliated with the Republican conservative agenda that promotes industry to the massive detriment of the environment (as well as other topics that Evangelical Christians are usually more firm on, such as (getting rid of) abortion and (getting rid of) gay rights).

Working on the theory that God has instructed man to pursue environmental protection, the Evangelicals promoting this idea need to convince the rest of the congregation that you don’t have to be an Earth Mother worshipping hippy or a Liberal to think that trying to stop destroying the planet is a good idea. I would have thought that this would be quite an easy task, but then I am a liberal optimist!

More on that one here.

Finally, a scientist who just might have found a way to produce ten times more energy than normal hydrogen energy production systems, if it weren’t for the slight problem that his discovery goes against all current theories of Quantum Mechanics (QM).

This is a bit technical, but an interesting idea nonetheless. A hydrogen atom is made up of one proton and one electron. The electron orbits the proton at what is called the ‘ground state’. This is essentially the most energy efficient orbit possible for the electron: any other orbit would require more energy. The scientist claims that using a process applied to water he has managed to make a hydrogen atom with the electron orbiting even closer to the proton. Okay…

The theory runs that this closer orbit is even more energy efficient than the previous ‘ground state’ and so when the electron moves into this position it releases the extra energy it was using to maintain the more energetic orbit. That’s a great idea, but it does have a major problem in covering why the electrons don’t automatically settle into the most energy efficient positions to begin with.

Here’s the bit I like: despite the simple truth that what this guy says goes against all previous peer-reviewed studies of QM, scientists are still willing to accept the possibility that the guy could be right. Literally, they don’t take science to be scripture! They do say that this particular experiment hasn’t gone through the peer-review system yet and so remains without approval of the wider scientific community, but they also don’t say that it must be wrong because it would upset so many other theories, although on the same logic they remain sceptical about it. I rather like that about scientists. Also, wouldn’t it be great if this guy was proved correct? We’d have probably the greatest scientific invention of our lifetime! ‘Shame it’s probably nonsense!

Source here.

Let’s just finish off with something very sensible from that article on the Pennsylvania trial:

Meanwhile on Thursday, the Vatican issued a statement warning against ignoring scientific reason, saying that religion risks turning into fundamentalism. Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture said:

“The permanent lesson that the Galileo case represents pushes us to keep alive the dialogue between the various disciplines, and in particular between theology and the natural sciences, if we want to prevent similar episodes from repeating themselves in the future.”

So, scientists being very silly, and Evangelicals the Catholic Church being very sensible… Are you sure this is the Matazone blog you’re reading?

Bobbies on patrol in the desert

This made me chuckle. In the UK we have a very distinctive Polive uniform. It’s quite an old design, with the funny shaped helmet harking back to the days when a robber might try to bash the local bobby over the head with a stick. It’s also designed for the (usually) cool UK climate.

The idea of two guys in full police uniform riding around the desert at Burning Man really tickled me…

”Ello ‘ello ‘ello, what’s going on ‘ere then?’
‘It’s a mutual massage tent officer.’
‘Do you have a license to do that in public madam?’ 😀

More pictures by the same photographer of Burning Man 2005 here. They’re some of the best I’ve seen, and the Temple of Dreams at the bottom really needs to be seen to be believed (like dreams, I guess). They build such a thing of beauty in a week then burn it down on the last day.

Are you a B.L.O.T.O. shopper?

Apparently seven per cent of British people know someone who has shopped online while drunk, in a syndrome with the catchy acronym BLOTO, or Buying Loads Of Tat Online, and six per cent ‘know someone’ who has shopped online while naked.

I think that there is a slight inaccuracy coming through in these figures, because I think that most people have bought something rubbish online while a bit tipsy, and most people with a private internet connection have probably been online naked, even if it’s just while waiting for a bath to run. I think the true reading should be that seven per cent of British people admit to buying rubbish online while drunk.

Source article here.

Walk like an Egyptian zombie thing…

Well… Walk like a mummy, but in modern clothing… Okay, that was just a rubbish excuse for a catchy topic title. organise get-togethers of people who dress up like zombies them shamble through cities scaring the bejeezus out of everyone. Personally I have a bit of a fear of zombies (it’s more rational than having a fear of spiders – spiders are all over the place so being afraid of them is just impractical!), but the whole idea sounds very amusing to me!

Here’s a great photo of a recent walk
. Doesn’t it look fun? If anyone decides to go along to one of these please take some photos and let me see them!