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The Skeptic's Dictionary Newsletter
Volume 10 No. 7
2 July 2011
[I]ntelligence...is in plentiful supply..[T]he scarce commodity is systematic training in critical thinking. --Carl Sagan
In this issue
- What's New?
- Hawking/Cameron Wars
- News from Flanders
- How Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open
- Fired by Amazon
- Scum of the Minute
An entry on Ernst Hartmann has been posted on the SD.
Only one posting was made to the Skeptimedia blog since the last newsletter: Facilitated communication (FC) infiltrates MIT's Media Lab. I tried to contact one of the key figures at MIT involved in supporting FC, Rosalind Picard, Head of the MIT Affective Computing Group. So far her contact has not replied to my request to talk to Picard.
What's the Harm? had one new posting: The Texas Civil Rights Massacre. This is a story about various law enforcement agencies getting duped by a tip from a self-identified psychic and then running roughshod over various citizens' rights in their pursuit of the psychic's fantasy child-killers.
Many files were updated. A complete list with links to the updates may be found at skepdic.com/updates.html.
Some of you may have noticed that my posting activity has subsided substantially in recent months. I am working on a project that takes up most of my free time. I should have an announcement to make about it in a few months.
I was cc'd the following email from Mark Craig, Kirk Cameron's manager:
To whom it may concern: I am Kirk Cameron's manager. I would suggest you remove this picture from your sight [sic] with the false caption immediately, other wise [sic] we will turn over [sic] to our attorney to deal with this defamation. It is sad you don't have better things to do with your time.
Mr. Craig's barely literate email was prompted by NEO who had sent out an email to those on his list regarding a story and picture featuring young Earth creationist and actor Kirk Cameron apparently making fun of physicist Stephen Hawking.
NEO also cc'd me a copy of his response to Mr. Craig
To whom it may concern:
THAT WOULD BE ME.
I am Kirk Cameron's manager.
WELL THEN, YOU CERTAINLY HAVE A VALID CLAIM ON THE TITLE "THE WORST JOB IN AMERICA" DESPITE WHAT NBC WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE.
I would suggest you remove this picture from your sight
I DID REMOVE IT FROM MY SIGHT. THE ONLY TIME I SEE IT IS WHEN I GO TO MY SITE.
with the false caption immediately,
PERHAPS YOU WOULD BE SO KIND AS TO POINT OUT WHICH PART OF THE CAPTION IS FALSE.
other wise we will turn over to our attorney to deal with this defamation.
"OTHERWISE" IS ONE WORD. WHEN KIRK HIRED YOU, DIDN'T HE AT LEAST REQUIRE A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA? OR WAS YOUR SUNDAY SCHOOL G.E.D. GOOD ENOUGH? WHAT IS IT WITH YOU GHOST WORSHIPPERS AND DICTIONARIES ANYWAY? YOU GUYS ACT LIKE THEY'RE MADE OF KRYPTONITE. FROM DICTIONARY.COM: DEF-A-MA-TION
the act of defaming;false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel;
HOW DO YOU FIGURE CAMERON QUALIFIES? THE PICTURE IN QUESTION PROVES BEYOND ANY DOUBT THAT ANY CLAIM CAMERON MAY HAVE EVER HAD TO A "GOOD REPUTATION" HAS BEEN DESTROYED ... BY CAMERON HIMSELF.
It is sad you don't have better things to do with your time.
THAT IS EXACTLY THE SAME THOUGHT THAT PASSED THROUGH MY MIND ... WHEN I SAW THAT PICTURE. SEE YOU IN COURT.
Apparently, Cameron's facial contortion was his response to Hawking's recent announcement that the concept of heaven is a fairy tale for people who are afraid of the dark.
Herman Boel translated The Skeptic's Dictionary into Dutch, which is now in its second printing.
Herman has a new book coming out later this year. The title is Will the World Perish in 2012? 33 idiotic questions to which you should have known the answers long ago. Topics include: the Maya prediction for 2012, chemtrails, aliens, ghosts, miracles at Lourdes, Nessie, and the like.
Herman notes that in Flanders 500 of the 2000 or so churches that are in government possession will no longer be used for church services but will get another 'destination.' The reason is two-fold: there are no longer many 'believers' who come to church for service, and many churches need to be renovated but there is no money for it. In the past, some private chapels and convent churches were sold and changed into hotels, concert buildings, or even fast food stands. The idea now is to change them into offices or anything else as long as the original architecture is maintained.
Herman would also like me to announce that he is now self-employed as a freelance translator and invites anyone in need of a translation from or to Dutch or Flemish to check out his web site at www.altaverba.be. His languages, in addition to Dutch and English, include French, Spanish, German, and more.
Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open because he wore a Trionz magnetic bracelet. His bracelet gave him the extra negative ions that his body lacks. These ions helped balance his aura, thereby improving his performance "both on the field and off the field." Like many other
suckers wearers of the Trionz bracelet, Rory may have been helped get over an illness and his daily life may have been improved significantly. His Trionz bracelet helped bring that focus to his daily and sporting life that he always desired. Ricky Fowler was wearing one, too, but he didn't make the cut, perhaps because he didn't follow the instructions for proper use of this extraordinary technology. Or perhaps Fowler is just surrounded by too many devices pumping out positive ions. It is a testament to the difficulty of mastering ion bracelet technology that McIlroy was the only golfer to properly use his placebo jewelry during the U.S. Open.
According to the people who sell the Trionz "our modern lives mean that we are too high in positive ions and don’t get enough negative ions." If you're too busy to take a shower, a nice source of negative ions, just slip on a Trionz.
Allegedly, it "works by emitting negative ions that help neutralise the positive ions that are over abundant [sic] in the atmosphere." How does it neutralize positive ions? "These Trionz bracelets emit negative ions to balance the positive ions." How does a piece of plastic or rubber emit ions? How does it know when to stop so it doesn't put out an imbalance of negative ions? These are questions only morons ask. Just send in your money and get one. I guarantee you that the Trionz will work just as well as the Q-Ray, the Q-Link, the Power Balance, the iRenew, or the EFX Health Wristband Bracelet Silicone Band.
All California Amazon Associates were fired on 29 June 2011, including me. This is the second time I've been fired. The first was in 1966 when I was making $1.25 an hour as a food server at a San Diego shipyard. My boss fired me rather than promote me as promised after a probationary period of 6 months. Had I been promoted, he told me, he'd have to pay me $1.50 and he couldn't afford it.
Amazon's explanation for the firing has been characterized as bullying and as championing the Constitution. I think it's more the former than the latter. I haven't seen much evidence that Jeff Bezos is a champion of the Constitution. The state of California has passed a law that, according to Bezos in an email announcing my firing, "imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers - including but not limited to those referred by California-based marketing affiliates like you - even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state." This, he says, is "unconstitutional and counterproductive." Amazon won't collect taxes for its sales to Californians so it is firing all it associates who live in California. As a result, California won't collect either sales tax on Amazon items or income tax from California-based associates. The lawyers will win, as there will probably be a lengthy court battle over this issue.
The California law, by the way, was the work of Democrats and Jerry Brown. No Republican voted for the budget that included this item. One could say that the Democrats tried to bully Amazon (and other "big box retailers"). From where I sit, it looks like everybody loses but Amazon and the lawyers. Amazon will continue to sell products to Californians who will find those products listed on sites based in other states. Some of us in California will probably have our links to Amazon up for quite some time. We have too many to take down quickly. Many links are buried on pages we posted a decade ago and haven't looked at since. In any case, over the years the California-based Amazon associates have brought millions of customers to Amazon. That's all Amazon really needed us for. Now that our customers are used to shopping at Amazon, they'll continue to do so and Amazon will add to its profits what it used to pay us in commissions.
I would guess that over the past 11 years, I've sold about a half million dollars in merchandise for Amazon. In recent years, sales have been slow. Last month I sold $2,317.60 worth of merchandise and earned $156.22 from Amazon. The Skeptic's Dictionary website has thousands of links to books sold at Amazon. Those links will continue to work, but I will get no share of the revenue. If you find a book mentioned on my site, I recommend you buy it from your local book shop.
I received the following email from Team EsoWatch :
Dear Mr. Carroll, thank you very much for your kind mentioning of our article on the fraud Prahlad Jani in your blog. You are right to criticize us for focusing on German issues. It would help to remedy this situation if you would also mention that it's easy to join us: http://www.esowatch.com/en/index.php?title=Join Although most of our members are from German-speaking countries, we already have users from France, the Netherlands and even Russia, and we welcome contributors from abroad.
In case you're wondering where EsoWatch gets its name, Team EsoWatch says:
Esowatch means we watch out for esoterics. We were just thinking for a catching phrase that works in many languages. We don't restrict ourselves to esoterics, though. We write about anything that interests us.
There you have it.
The scum of the minute must be shared by the thousands of companies that are selling useless and pointless protection from cell phone radiation. Their footprint is expanding thanks to the WHO's ridiculous report that cell phones may cause cancer.
A few of the headliners are:
EarthCalm Quantum Cell. For $99, the ad says "Most Powerful Cell Phone Radiation Protection Available. Protect your brain!" I'm sure it's true that the Quantum Cell is in fact the most powerful cell phone radiation protection available. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much. "The Quantum Cell offers superior cell phone protection because it grounds your nervous system into the earth’s electromagnetic field. Natural resonance is restored." Believe that and you'll believe anything.
BioElectricShield. "Once you place the BioElectric Shield on your body, a dance of vibration begins." Not the vibration thing again! The ad asks "Are you at risk? Do you use a wireless network, computer or cell phone?" Was the Pope a Nazi?
BlockEMF's Life Blue Tube Air. "The Life Blue Tube headset offers revolutionary technology to avoid high EMF and radiation exposure yet maintain crystal-clear sound. The ear buds fit like a typical stereo headset, comfortable and easy to use. The system delivers your phone conversation through typical wires, then uses air-filled tubes without wires near the head, thus reducing EMF exposure."
NaturalHealingTools Ear Buds with EMF Shield. "...specially designed and scientifically proven to help protect you from the EMF's emitted from your cellphone and other personal electronic devices." The ad says: The World Health Organization notes that: "Low-frequency magnetic fields induce circulating currents within the human body. The strength of these currents depends on the intensity of the outside magnetic field. If sufficiently large, these currents could cause stimulation of nerves and muscles or affect other biological processes." The ad then says: "a worrying prospect." Why? You never know what will happen if the wrong nerve or muscle is stimulated. You might drop your call and knock over the display table at the psychic fair.
Amazon.com has fired all its California associates, including me, so I no longer earn the commission that used to help pay for the maintenance of this site. Buy your books from your local book shop.
* AmeriCares *