A Pyramid Hoax Reappears on Facebook

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This Facebook headline caught my skeptic’s eye right away: “Energy beam coming from the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun.” After I finished guffawing at the gullibility of some folks, I decided to spend a little time researching how widespread this silliness had become. As expected, and sad to relate, it was all over the Net. Seems every psychic-New-Age-crystal-therapy-astrology-aura-UFO-conspiracy-theory-Atlantis-Elvis-is-alive obsessed wingnut site has repeated the claims, usually copying and pasting them directly from the original source without even bothering to investigate the claims: A team of … click below for more ↓

Dogs and dog owners need places to socialize

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How many dogs live here in Collingwood? No one knows for sure, but we can make some good estimates, based on numerous surveys and national statistics. It’s a lot. Dog owners are a very large special interest group, perhaps larger than any other demographic group in town. I’ve done some research and read many studies on pet populations done since 1996 (like this one from 2001 and this one from 2007). All of the major census figures of the older surveys are consistent with the … click below for more ↓

Digital Connections is in print

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Municipal World has released my newest book: Digital Connections. It came out this week. This book is about the benefits and challenges of using social media for municipalities and municipal politicians. The target audience is politicians, staff, boards and committees, but a lot of what I wrote can apply to anyone in business or industry. The sell sheet says: Social media: everyone’s using it today. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs, and photo/video sharing sites. These and other services have literally hundreds of millions of users. … click below for more ↓

What happened to the video business?

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In the early to mid 1990s, Collingwood had three independent video outlets. Then it had two and one franchise (Rogers). Several variety stores also had a small video rental business. Then the independents closed and another franchise (Blockbuster) moved in. Now the two corporations are gone and there is no place in town to rent videos. I am deeply disappointed. What happened to the video rental business? Was it so unprofitable? Or is it just a plan by Rogers to increase revenue through it’s “on … click below for more ↓

Goodbye, Carlos Fuentes: 1928-2012

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I was in a bookstore in Israel in 1980 or thereabouts, looking for a book in English to read during my visit. I found Terra Nostra, a 900-page novel by Carlos Fuentes, in a Penguin paperback edition. I had read another Fuentes’ book, A Change of Skin, a few years earlier, so I picked it up. I’ve carried Terra Nostra with me ever since that day in Israel. It’s still on my bookshelf. I don’t remember if I ever finished it. I remembered that book … click below for more ↓

Having a purpose strengthens your brain

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A story in Science Daily caught my eye recently. It was titled, “Greater Purpose in Life May Protect Against Harmful Changes in the Brain Associated With Alzheimer’s Disease.” That suggested a different approach to brain ailments than what I’ve usually read. Most are medical or surgical. This one is philosophical. I’m not one for either self-help or New Age palaver. Most of it strikes me as unmitigated pap that borders on the religious. It’s like the gazillions of diet books and websites. I’m not sure … click below for more ↓

Flatulent dinosaurs warmed ancient earth

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An amusing story on Science Daily says researchers have determined that the giant, herbivorous sauropods of the Mesozoic might have been responsible for the era’s warm climate. Well, not the dinosaurs themselves, but rather the methane-producing bacteria in their guts: “A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate,” said Dave Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University. “Indeed, our calculations suggest that these dinosaurs could have produced more … click below for more ↓

So-called psychic healers don’t see auras: they’re just ill

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A story on Science Daily News this weekend reports that seeing so-called auras may in fact be the result of a neurological disorder, not simply another pseudoscience scam. Self-described psychics who have bilked the gullible based on reading these alleged auras will have some ‘splaining to do. So-called psychic healers – aka charlatans – are likely to be in line for some big lawsuits once this story gets out! The disorder is called “synesthesia.” People who are afflicted by it have regions in their brains … click below for more ↓

54,232 words… and it’s done

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I passed 54,000 words yesterday in my book on Machiavelli for municipal politicians. A little tweaking today, and an additional selection from The Discourses pushed it to 54,232 words. It prints out at 163 letter-sized pages. Even though that count includes chapter titles and subheads, as well as the opening notes and quotes, dedication, bibliography, and back page copy, it’s still about 20,000 more than my original target. I just don’t seem to be able to stop working on it. I’m still reading books about … click below for more ↓

What is your dog thinking?

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A story on Science Daily News says scientists are using an MRI scanner to look into the thought processes of dogs. As the article notes, “The researchers aim to decode the mental processes of dogs by recording which areas of their brains are activated by various stimuli. Ultimately, they hope to get at questions like: Do dogs have empathy? Do they know when their owners are happy or sad? How much language do they really understand?” I don’t need an MRI scanner to figure this … click below for more ↓

Gone to the Dark Side

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Yes, I have been recruited to the Dark Side: I have an Apple iPad now. Well, it’s a loaner, but they’ll have to pry it out of my cold dead fingers if they want it back. Unless they offer me a 64GB model in exchange… And, yes, I have been reduced to the fatuous abuse of capitalization in its name: iPad, rather than a more proper Ipad. You know, you can’t even type Ipad on the device because the auto-correct feature will change it into … click below for more ↓

The End of the World is Nigh… Again

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Sigh. And you thought election time was silly season. The last year has certainly been silly season for apocalyptic predictions. From the so-called Mayan end of days to the failed “rapture” of Howard Camping, it’s been a great time for conspiracy theory and cult watchers. The latest prediction for the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) is from Jose De Jesus Miranda, a US-based fundamentalist religious preacher (of course). According to Miranda, the world will end on June 30, 58 days from … click below for more ↓

A Delightful Farce Called Anonymous

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Watched a delightful, satirical farce last night, called Anonymous. It’s a spoof about the conspiracy theory that the Earl of Oxford (Edward de Vere) wrote the works of William Shakespeare. This conspiracy notion has a pop following, but lacks significant scholarly and any historical support. Like other conspiracy theories, it has gained ground on the Internet from the simple fact that most people are naturally superstitious and suspicious, and would rather not apply critical thinking or do any serious research to prove or disprove outlandish … click below for more ↓

Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief

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I read a story in Science News today about a study that shows, “analytic thinking can decrease religious belief, even in devout believers.” “Our goal was to explore the fundamental question of why people believe in a God to different degrees,” says lead author Will Gervais, a PhD student in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology. “A combination of complex factors influence matters of personal spirituality, and these new findings suggest that the cognitive system related to analytic thoughts is one factor that can influence disbelief.” The … click below for more ↓

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