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Just Finished Reading: Flim-Flam! #books

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Recently I got into a discussion about astrology and was told that it was obvious that I’d never had a good astrological reading. I have difficulty dealing with people who choose to believe in pseudoscience, and have much in common with James Randi in this respect. Where he and I diverge is in our treatment of these fanatics, I tend to avoid them like the plague. The same holds for the people who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, the belief in the power of Friday the thirteenth.

Isaac Asimov writes in his introduction to the book that “[u]nder these circumstances, what crime is greater than that of deliberately misteaching the public about science, of deliberately misleading them, of defrauding them, of feeding and stimulating their ignorance?” Randi goes on to savagely ravage all the purveyors of trickery explaining that he seeks “to prove that ‘psychics’ use trickery by duplicating their wonders by trickery.” I believe that the main issue with this book is not that it is not written with the mainstream in mind, it is that the main stream media is more interested in spouting ridicules fiction and trickery rather than the truth, and the public eats it up. This is probably why politicians do so well.

I’m sure you had a nice day. And if you didn’t read Flim-Flam!

Image source: Amazon


Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

April 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Just Finished Reading: Last Chance To See #book

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I happened upon Last Chance to See online, and being a big fan of Douglas Adams’ previous works I thought I would quite like to read it. There is also a BBC radio program for which this book is an accompaniment and a follow up by Stephen Fry – also aptly named Last Chance to See, which I will now need to seek out.

Adams and Mark Carwardine go off on an adventure to visit some of the most endangered species of animals, some which are well known – the White Rhinoceros – and others which I had not heard of – the Kakapo – or had not know that they where on the verge of extinction – the Yangtze river dolphin. They discover that there are species of plants and animals that their numbers can be counted on one hand.

They look like humans, they move like humans, they hold things in their fingers like humans, the expressions which play across their faces and in their intensely human-looking eyes are expressions that we instinctively feel we recognise as human expressions. We look them in the face and we think, “We know what they’re like,” but we don’t. Or rather, we actually block off any possible glimmering of understanding of what they may be like by making easy and tempting assumptions.
Douglas Adams

A humorous book, from a great author, discussing the plight of many animals and their struggle to exist with their human overlords.

Image source: Amazon

Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

March 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Just Started Reading… #books

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Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, another book I found in a second hand store. “The book documented detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds. Carson said that DDT had been found to cause thinner egg shells and result in reproductive problems and death. She also accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting industry claims uncritically.1

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

August 29, 2008 at 9:28 am

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Shortest or Fastest Route for saving the World

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I saw 8 Geeky Ways to Save Gas and at the section “Use GPS or mapping tools” I read this:

“It may sound obvious, but think of how much gas you waste driving around when you’re lost or trying to find a parking garage. Map out your route in advance to devise the shortest route (rather than the fastest one), which can also put you on secondary roads where you’ll drive more slowly—another gas-saving benefit. Some GPS units also let you program them to pick routes that avoid toll roads, where you can burn gas idling in line.”(emphasis mine)

It doesn’t sound that obvious that taking the shortest route is more efficient than the fastest route. Apparently somebody else thinks the same with their patent “Method and system for calculating least-cost routes based on historical fuel efficiency, street mapping and location based services“:

“The system will determine the best of all calculated routes based on the vehicles estimated MPG, historical data and efficiency in traversing various terrains. In one example, a vehicle towing a heavy trailer would consume fewer MPG if it took a longer but more flat route while the same vehicle without the extra weight would achieve better MPG by going a shorter route over more hilly terrain. This method would produce the best MPG rating for a given trip. With this new system in place, the driver will be able to query a mapping software program product that is based on optimal gas mileage rather than on speed or distance alone.”

In fact even the article Sat-nav finds greenest routes in the that “… taking more eco-friendly routes cut[s] motorists’ average fuel usage by 8.2%.

“The most efficient roads are often those where you can drive at a fairly slow, constant speed, without having to stop or suddenly accelerate or decelerate,” Dr Ericsson told New Scientist magazine.

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Written by Daniël W. Crompton (webhat)

July 6, 2008 at 9:46 am

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