On Yesterday’s St Patrick’s Day And Other Interesting Amusements And News

On Yesterday’s St Patrick’s Day And Other Interesting Amusements And News March 18, 2012

So, how are you doing today? First and foremost! Go check out the guest blog-post I wrote on St Patrick’s Day and Luck for The Odds Must Be Crazy website!

I’ve been a mess today – so incredibly tired. It all started with realising that I was attending the opening night of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia at the State Theatre. Yes, during St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the city. Kind of a mistake, as you’ll discover after reading the Odd’s blog-post. Thankfully the chaos of celebrating people didn’t interrupt the play and I managed to get out of the city afterwards. So incredibly busy with people partying!

I’ll write a blog-post about the experience of seeing the play later, as it’s one of my favourites and the first time I’ve seen it uninterrupted (in fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’ll be seeing it again next month). However, today was the day of a baby shower, for an impending little girl.

Which is why I brought the following as presents for the (wonderful future) mother:

Why yes, that is a monkey. With “Baby’s First Football”. And the usual bib, jumper, moisturiser accompaniment. If a girl is going to be arriving, she needs to know where her monkey is and have the potential to recognise a football as a suitable toy.

Besides, who can resist this tail?

Case closed. It was very difficult wrapping it up and popping it in the box to be enjoyed at the party. One day I might get my own monkey.

Here’s a few other links to make your Sunday:

Mia Freedman in Queensland’s Sunday Mail with Contagious Delusions – and as she wrote on Twitter, Vaccinations: On one hand there is science and…. there is no other hand. This article has already piqued the anti-vaccination lobby; go read it to see her views in full:

Because no link between vaccination and autism has ever been found. None. Ever. What has been conclusively proven is that while they are not 100% perfect, vaccines are the best and only way to protect babies and children from diseases like whooping cough that can kill them.

And the personal choice argument? Well, it’s a bit like arguing that driving your car drunk is a personal choice. You see, the lives of babies too young to be vaccinated depend on herd immunity in the rest of the community. So the choice made by that woman I worked with didn’t just affect her family. Her well-intentioned yet ill-informed decision has the potential to harm my family. And yours.

Science Daily report on the Bem study – Believing the Impossible: No Evidence for Existence of Psychic Ability Found which is also covered here in the Chicago Tribune , in the UK’s The Guardian and in the LA Times – Psychic ability study debunked: Steer clear of rabbit hole, psychologists say

… and of course, PLOS – Failing the Future: Three Unsuccessful Attempts to Replicate Bem’s ‘Retroactive Facilitation of Recall’ Effect

ABSTRACT: Nine recently reported parapsychological experiments appear to support the existence of precognition. We describe three pre-registered independent attempts to exactly replicate one of these experiments, ‘retroactive facilitation of recall’, which examines whether performance on a memory test can be influenced by a post-test exercise. All three replication attempts failed to produce significant effects (combined n = 150; combined p = .83, one-tailed) and thus do not support the existence of psychic ability.

A lovely review of The Young Atheist’s Handbook in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Roger Ebert says that Santorum visits Illinois high school, ignores agreement, stiffs student questions, leaves them disappointed.

Further commentary on the Retraction episode of This American Life – from the New Yorker:

Each time Daisey sputtered hedges, excuses, and half-hearted denials, I found myself cringing. Whether it was for Glass or Daisey, though, I sometimes could not be sure. Reporting, even the most factually sound, is never free of interpretation; a story, especially an important one, involves sculpting from a mass of raw material, to give it a truthful shape… When necessary, poetry has to be sacrificed, firmly if regrettably, for precision.

…Time and again, he sought justification in the nebulous terms of “totality” (“I would say that I wanted to tell a story that captured the totality”) and “complexities” (“Well I did think it would unpack the complexities of, of like how, how the story gets told”), as if the audience would fail to process the message if was not embellished. Not only is such language patronizing, it prioritizes the storyteller over the story, Daisey’s craft over the accurate depiction of his cause.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday – I have to get some sleep…

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