Whatever: April 2003 Archives

April 21, 2003

Nobbled advice?

'sstory' is suspicious:

I think the creationists have initiated a campaign at Amazon to alter the recommendations. I went to my Amazon page, after noticing a book on Bottomquark, and in my personalized section, where I ordinarily get recommendations about scientific or historical books, because it's noticed these trends in my purchasing, there was this pile of recommendations for creationism books...
Now this didn't just happen by accident. Curious, I went to one of the creationism book's pages. There were lots of comments from readers, most with dozens of 'this review was helpful to me' indications.
It's clear from that evidence that they're trying to game the system to increase recommendations of creationism books, and it's successful.

Amazon Recommendations Influenced by Creationists? - Bottomquark science and technology news, 20th April 2003 (via BoingBoing)

April 20, 2003

Dictionary corner

This week's New Scientist letters page features a useful note from Brian Myres which explains the difference between a hypothesis and a theory, and observes how fundies take advantage of people not having paid attention when it was explained to them in school. The letter was inspired by the fact that the writer of a recent article hadn't been listening either, and neither had the sub-editors:

He tells us that Adam Heller proposed a radical theory, when all Heller is doing is hypothesising. He has no data. Yet scientific theories must have data to support them. Lawton then goes on to say that there's reason to believe this isn't just a clever theory. Now there's grist for Jerry Falwell's mill. Falwell is the minister who travels the US telling everyone that evolution is just a theory, and Lawton has now validated that stupid statement.

Theories aren't guesses - New Scientist, 19th April 2003.

April 16, 2003

Free Religion Foundation

The Open Source Haggadah is the prototype site for a much bigger project, Open Source Judaism, which hopes to invigorate enquiry into Jewish texts and encourage commentary.

We propose that Judaism is not simply a religion to be believed in, but one to be considered, discussed, and evolved. Jewish texts and rituals are not closed, but open to commentary, disagreement, and even revision. Judaism was established as a form of inquiry rather than a set of answers - yet, due to many circumstances - this spirit of inquiry has waned over the past several decades, particularly in America.

The site also contains a brief explanation of Passover, which starts at sunset today, and why the rituals associated with it make such a good choice for the project:

Part of what makes Passover unique--and such a terrific place to begin practicing a more participatory and collaborative form of Judaism--is the extent to which our interpretations of this holiday vary. Perhaps because the Seder is performed in the home, around a familiar table, people have felt more comfortable doing it their own way than other, synagogue based rituals. That's what makes it ideal for an "open source" inquiry.

(via BoingBoing).

Note: Proof of the Conspiracy! This is the 666th post in the Prattle.

April 8, 2003

An idea for Railtrack

Kanpur, India: Railway workers are being offered regular yoga and meditation sessions as a means of reducing accidents caused by human error.

Taking the lead, the North-Eastern Railway have started yoga camp at the Anwarganj railway station here as the officials reasoned that staff having cool and fresh mind could ensure safe and smooth train movement. The report of medical examinations came as an eye-opener for the Railways. The report declared nearly 35 drivers and guards unfit for their jobs, said S K Suri, superintendent of the Anwarganj railway station. Most of the staff is suffering from diabetes and irregular heart beat.
The running staff suffering from such ailments are prone to commit mistakes leading to accidents, he added. It is first time in the history of N-E Railway when such meditation or yoga camps were being organised at a railway station to make its staff tension and stress free said Suri. We have created a complete peaceful atmosphere in the 'dhyan-kaksha' where guards and drivers of different trains will take a complete rest and make themselves fit, he added.

Yoga and meditation for NER staff - Times of India, 7th April 2003.

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This page is an archive of entries in the Whatever category from April 2003.

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