Geeky Bob

Just a short, simple blog for Bob to share his thoughts.

Be sure to check out my technical blog at www.microsoftbob.com.

MonthList

Desert Riding Bokeh Videos

When you somehow manage to bump the camera button on your phone in its waterproof case during a desert ride and it creates an experimental bokeh-art film in your honor...

Posted: May 04 2018, 10:16 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Filed under: Bicycling | Humor | Art
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Anti-Vaxxers are Still Idiots

Earlier today, an addlebrained anti-vaxxer posted a link to this bogus article on a social media website: FDA Announced That Vaccines Are Causing Autism. That article was, of course, immediately debunked by other people through a myriad of fact-check articles, such as Debunking False Vaccine Claim, Is Autism Now Disclosed as a DTaP Vaccine Side Effect?, etc. But even if that claim had been true for that single vaccine, that would still not apply to the hundreds of other vaccines for which there is incontrovertible proof that they do not cause autism.

The link between vaccines and autism has long been debunked, and people need to stop repeating this very harmful lie. Here is the scoop straight from the FDA: "Scientific evidence does not support a link between vaccination and autism or other developmental disorders." (See the CDC article Vaccines for Children - A Guide for Parents and Caregivers for more information.)

That being said, another gullible village idiot felt that it was necessary to ignore both scientific research and reasonable discussion and repost the following alarmist image as an attempted response:

31292696_1778890132133307_1979325692562636800_n

The numbers published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that those affected by Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are less than 15 per 1,000, and any increase between current the numbers and the 1960s is attributed to heightened awareness of the disease, better diagnostic procedures, and the classifications of new ailments within ASD like Asperger Syndrome. (See the CDC pages like Prevalence and Characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Research, etc.) What is more, research conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) has shown that autism begins in the womb, and is thereby unaffected by childhood vaccinations. (See Autism Spectrum Disorder: Progress Toward Earlier Diagnosis, Autism Risk Unrelated to Total Vaccine Exposure in Early Childhood, etc.)

That being said, the so-called link between autism and vaccines was based on a single research paper that was later unequivocally proved as a fraud, formally retracted from publication, and the doctor who published the paper lost his medical accreditation due to multiple conflicts of interest, unethical behavior, and manufacturing the data in his report. (Basically, this one doctor published a fraudulent study in order to make money. See MMR Doctor 'Planned to Make Millions,' Journal Claims, Antivaccine hero Andrew Wakefield: Scientific fraud?, and hundreds of other articles published about this scandal.)

In the wake of this controversy, the FDA, the CDC and the NIH have spent millions of USA taxpayer dollars on research that has categorically proven that there is no link between vaccines and autism. (See Vaccine Safety: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism, Vaccine Safety & Availability: Thimerosal and Vaccines, and dozens of other pages on both the FDA, CDC, and NIH websites.)

However, this hoax refuses to die because people who are unaware of the actual research keep reposting bogus images and articles like those shown above, and dangerous diseases which we had almost eradicated from the planet are making a comeback. In the USA, this is especially prevalent due to the lack of daily suffering that is seen in underdeveloped countries; this false sense of security was paradoxically caused by the success of our vaccination programs. (See Vaccine Safety Questions and Answers.) As a result, more children in the USA are growing up with a greater risk of contracting an unnecessary disease than they are of autism.


NOTE: Another reliable and respected source of information is the Mayo Clinic, which states the following in its Autism Spectrum Disorder article:

No link between vaccines and autism spectrum disorder

One of the greatest controversies in autism spectrum disorder centers on whether a link exists between the disorder and childhood vaccines. Despite extensive research, no reliable study has shown a link between autism spectrum disorder and any vaccines. In fact, the original study that ignited the debate years ago has been retracted due to poor design and questionable research methods.

Avoiding childhood vaccinations can place your child and others in danger of catching and spreading serious diseases, including whooping cough (pertussis), measles or mumps.

In other words - if you are a parent, do not fall victim to the misguided anti-vaxxer paranoia that is infesting social media and other fake news outlets with disinformation; do the world a favor and vaccinate your children. Attempts to demonize our successful and scientifically-verified vaccination programs is ridiculously naïve, and future generations will look back on our present-day anti-vaxxer hysteria with the same level of contempt and disgust that we have for the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s.

Posted: Apr 26 2018, 10:31 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Desert Cycling Bingo

As I was riding my bicycle through the Arizona desert outside Tucson yesterday afternoon, I saw a good-sized Gila Monster, which was my first sighting for this year.

20180422_173258-01

This fortuitous discovery came just a few days after I had seen my first rattlesnake for the year, which got me thinking: perhaps I should track a few of the familiar objects that I see every year, which quickly expanded to common occurrences and mishaps. A few minutes later and I had randomized several of my semi-routine desert riding experiences into the following bingo card, where I have already encountered a few of the more-prevalent items this year:

Stung by Wasp inside my Cycling Jersey Rode in 100+ Temperatures PR on RRC Saw a Rattlesnake Ran Out of Water
Saw a Tarantula PR on PHL Saw a Coyote Hit by Wasp in Face Passed by a 20-Something During a Climb
Run Off the Road by Car Passed a 20-Something During a Climb Rode in 110+ Temperatures Got a Flat Tire Ocotillo in Bloom
Rode in 90+ Temperatures Saw a Gila Monster Fell Over Hit by Cicada in Face PR on SNP
Saguaro in Bloom PR on FHC Hit by Grasshopper in Face Threw Chain During a Climb Saw a Roadrunner

Where the following abbreviations apply:

Abbr. Description
PR Personal Record
FHC Freeman Hill Climb
SNP Saguaro National Park
PHL Pistol Hill Loop
RRC Riparian Ridge Climb

As you can see, there are several items which I have yet to see or do for the year, but only four months have gone by; there's plenty of time to fill up the list.

Posted: Apr 23 2018, 10:42 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Soul-Crushing Meetings

A friend of mine posted the following image to social media… and as someone who has had to attend more than a few soul-crushing phone conferences, I thought it was hilarious.

Soul-Crushing-Meeting

That being said, I thought this play set was missing a few things that would add to its realism.

For example, why doesn't it come with a whiteboard and four dried-out markers?

In addition, the conference phone should come with dozens of lifelike features, such as Dropped Calls, Random Static, Open Microphone Keyboard Typing, Private Background Conversations, and 15 minutes of 'Can You Hear Me?' dialog. This would turn your kids' 5-minute meeting into hours of troubleshooting entertainment - every time!

Posted: Apr 01 2018, 09:41 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Adventures with the Easter Vampire

A few years ago I wrote a blog titled "Adventures with the Tooth Werewolf", where I wrote about how I rose my children with a belief in the Tooth Werewolf instead of the Tooth Fairy. In that same blog I also briefly mentioned that I had come up with the Easter Vampire instead of the Easter Bunny. (I'll bet you wish your parents had been this cool, right?)

That being said, one of my daughters sent me the following video, which she appropriately-labeled, "The Easter Vampire?"

Smile

Posted: Mar 30 2018, 03:39 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Atheist Prayer Warriors

Did you ever notice how many atheists are actually the fiercest prayer warriors?

Every time they declare, "GD this!" or "GD that!," they are - in fact - calling on a God whom they claim does not exist to intervene on their behalf.

The tragic part about this fact is that in so doing they are praying more times per day than most Christians.

Posted: Mar 30 2018, 02:04 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Filed under: Ponderings | Religion
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Happy Pi Day!!!

In honor of "Pi Day" (3/14), here are the first 256 digits of Pi set to music... (which was achieved by taking the numbers in Pi and overlaying them on a C major scale).

At first I thought about overlaying the digits on a pentatonic scale to create a little more harmony, but it turns out that it wasn't necessary. (Of course, the bass line and drum parts add a lot, too.)

I also thought about doing something with a pentatonic scale, but as I said earlier it didn't appear to need it. I also thought using about some sort of timing extraction from the numbers in Pi instead of using 8th notes, but most of my experiments started to sound far too random and chaotic.

FWIW - I also did a version in 7/8 time, just 'cause... you know... RUSH.

Posted: Mar 14 2018, 07:15 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Do you think that the Russians want war?

In response to Vladimir Putin's recent proclamation that Russia now has "Invincible Nuclear Weapons," someone posted a link to Dick Gaughan's 1983 song "Think Again:"

The problem with songs like Gaughan's is that they do a tremendous injustice to what was actually going on in the world when that song was written. At the time, there were a great deal of songs written to protest the Cold War and to encourage everyone to "give peace a chance." The problem with naive statements like "give peace a chance" is that many a conquered nation has wanted peace at all costs, but their desire for peace did not prevent their eventual destruction. Appeasement of Hitler prior to WWII is a perfect example: most of Europe did nothing as Hitler stormed through country after country because everyone else remembered WWI, and the rest of Europe would rather stand by and let a madman conquer the world than upset their personal peace.

Which brings us back to Gaughan's song and it's central question: "Do you think that the Russians want war?" The target of Gaughan's lyrics was the policymakers in the West, who have largely done nothing whenever madmen went to war, because the West typically seeks peace at all costs. The West wanted peace with Hitler, and peace with Stalin, and with Khrushchev, and with Brezhnev. The West may not have approved the actions of these madmen, but the West would much rather have peace than declare war on every psychopath who comes along. But here's the thing: even though the West wanted peace, the Russians - in the form of the Soviets - very clearly wanted war.

15 countries ceased to exist with autonomy in the name of Russian/Soviet war: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Ukraine. These countries did not want war, but Russia gave them war anyway. As a result, these conquered territories became the 14 satellite republics of the Soviet Union. But let us not forget that Afghanistan also did not want war, yet the Russians/Soviets invaded anyway. Afghanistan was destined to become the 16th Soviet republic, until clandestine meddling from the United States helped turn that war in favor of the Afghanis, (and thereby bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union, but that's another story).

But it doesn't end there, because the Russians/Soviets also brought war to Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. These countries were conquered by the Russians/Soviets to serve as sacrificial "buffer states" in the event of hypothetical invasion from the West, (rather than becoming formal Soviet republics).

While Gaughan's lyrics pontificate about the 20 million people slaughtered by Nazi invasion, it does nothing to address the 30 million or so of their own countrymen killed by the peace-loving Russians/Soviets, nor does begin to account for all of millions of people slaughtered senselessly during the Russian/Soviet invasions of the countries previously mentioned, nor does it account for the hundreds of thousands of casualties incurred during the brutal suppressions carried out by the Russians/Soviets whenever one of those countries fought for their independence. (Nor do those numbers address the additional tens of millions of people slaughtered by the USSR's allies in the Far East and South/Central America; but let us refrain from digression and stick to Russia, shall we?)

People can claim that the "Average Russian" did not want war, and that all of these atrocities were caused by the actions and ideologies of their leaders. I must admit, there is undoubtedly a grain of truth to that perspective. But then again, you have to realize that millions of "Average Russians" actively participated in conquering of all of the countries that I have mentioned. Those countries wanted peace; Russia brought them war. As a result, those millions of "Average Russians" are no less guilty than the millions of "Average Germans" who brought the Nazi War Machine to peaceful Europe.

I have quoted this poem before in other contexts, so please forgive my repetition here; following WWII, the German pastor Martin Niemöller expressed the folly of "Average Germans" doing nothing about the Nazis when he wrote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.

Niemöller's sentiments may not be a call to arms, but they certainly condemn the cowardice of those who do nothing while their fellow countrymen commit atrocities.

Gaughan's song attempts to lay the desire for war at the feet of the West's leaders because - as he put it - we didn't "like their political system." To restate what I have said earlier, no one liked Russia's political system. But the Russians/Soviets forced their political system on millions of innocent people through decades of violent bloodshed. Gaughan conveniently ignores all of that.

I have stated many times before that Russia is never more than one madman away from becoming the Soviet Union again, and we're seeing that come to fruition. Under Putin's leadership, Russia has once again annexed the Ukraine, and it has violently suppressed dissension in other former Soviet republics. And once again, the West has done nothing, because despite the flowery rhetoric of naive dreamers like Gaughan, the West still desires peace more than war. But Gaughan ignores all of that, too.

As I have mentioned all along, the West has almost always wanted peace; that much is clear from the staggering amount of reticence that it has shown whenever another madman has come along and started conquering its neighbors. The West attempted to intervene in the Far East, with disastrous results, and we have learned our lesson. As a result, the West typically does nothing now, because most people in the West believe in peace at all costs. But as the saying goes, "Peace is a fleeting fantasy, embraced by fools, signifying nothing." A desire for peace does not prevent war; at best it only delays the inevitable.

With that in mind, to answer Gaughan's question: even though the West wants peace, Russia has always wanted war.

Posted: Mar 01 2018, 03:15 by Bob | Comments (0)
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When Pianists Talk While Playing

Here is my truthful rendition of what piano players think they sound like when they attempt to talk while playing the piano, versus what they actually sound like to everyone else around them. Winking smile

Note that the preceding video is by-product of the author's sarcastic nature and created for entertainment purposes only. Time signatures, tempos, keys, chords and embellishments are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a facetious manner. Any resemblance to pianists, living, dead, or undead, or actual music is purely coincidental.

Open-mouthed smile

Posted: Feb 20 2018, 17:26 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Jordan Peterson versus Cathy Newman

A good friend of mine shared the following video on Facebook, wherein Cathy Newman, who is a journalist for Britain’s Channel 4 News, hosted a debate with Jordan Peterson, who is a liberal clinical psychologist from Toronto. But you can’t really call it a debate, because Newman was clearly out of her league. She obviously entered the studio that day in possession of several pre-conceived beliefs, and she held steadfastly to those beliefs despite the fact that all of her arguments disintegrated into a flaming pile of excrement as the ‘debate’ progressed. (Or digressed, as the case may be.)

Peterson easily defeated all of Newman’s false assumptions with a never-ending stream of well-researched and articulate facts. Nevertheless, Newman repeatedly assaulted her studio guest as though she were a pit bull from hell, to which Peterson continuously responded with a polite demeanor and a gracious disposition, which was an incredible accomplishment seeing as how Newman’s arguments had no basis in reality.

Here is the video of the debate in question:

All joking aside, this ‘debate’ should become required watching for all journalism students in the future, because it is the best example of how not to conduct an interview or debate. Not only did Newman arrive at this interview ill-prepared and bursting with incorrect, pre-conceived notions about what her guest believed, but she also failed to accurately listen to her guest. Throughout the debate, Newman maintained a constant state of combatant and accusatory maliciousness despite all of the well-researched evidence that was presented as contrary to her personal feelings. Newman continuously interrupted her guest, and she constantly misquoted Peterson by twisting his responses into almost the opposite opinion of what he actually said or believed, and all the while she prefaced her misquotations with a condescending introduction such as, “So, what you’re saying is…,” or “So, you think that…,” etc.

With all of that in mind, here is my recap of the general flow of information during the debate:

  • Cathy Newman: I have this pre-existing and baseless opinion about what you believe, and I disagree with everything that you have ever said in your life.
  • Jordan Peterson: Your pre-existing opinion of my beliefs has no basis in fact.
  • Newman: So what you're saying is, my pre-existing, baseless opinion is correct.
  • Peterson: No, I never said that. Your pre-existing opinion is easily defeated by these concrete facts.
  • Newman: I will completely ignore your facts, and I will restate my baseless opinion as your belief.
  • Peterson: No, I don't believe that. Here are some more facts, examples, and things that I have said in the past which disagree with your pre-existing opinion.
  • Newman: I will ignore everything that we have said so far, and I will restate my original pre-existing and baseless opinion as though we hadn't said anything.
  • Peterson: No, you are deliberately distorting reality; what I believe is this, which is backed up by years of empirical evidence.
  • Newman: In a futile attempt to reinforce my baseless opinion, I am going to quote an unresearched statistic and hurl it at you in an accusatory manner.
  • Peterson: I am going to easily refute your false statistic with an example that...
  • Newman: I would rather interrupt you in a rude an insulting manner than listen to your facts, and ask what gives you the right to believe that my baseless opinion is somehow incorrect?
  • Peterson: I am an expert in my field, and here is a bunch of reinforcing data that I have collected from first-hand experience throughout my vast career within this field, which is backed up by years of academic studies conducted by other experts in this field.
  • Newman: So what you're saying is, you believe that my original pre-existing, baseless opinion is correct.
  • Peterson: No, I don't believe that. You're doing very badly here, so I will attempt an offhanded compliment to spare you the embarrassment of looking like an intellectual buffoon on a public broadcast.
  • Newman: I will resoundingly deflect your unnecessary compliment, and I will suddenly steer this conversation into a nonsensical, unrelated direction and use this change of topic to state another pre-existing and baseless opinion.
  • Peterson: I have no idea why we are discussing this unrelated topic, but your other pre-existing opinion is also incorrect, and I can back this up with centuries of evolutionary evidence and study.
  • Newman: So let me get this straight, you also agree with my other pre-existing opinion.
  • Peterson: No, I never said that; I don't agree with either of your baseless opinions.
  • Newman: I am clearly out of my league here, so I'm just going to call you a big meanie like I am some sort of kindergartener.
  • Peterson: I'm not a big meanie.
  • Newman: Well, you're mean to people who disagree with you.
  • Peterson: I vehemently defend my beliefs with other academics, although I also have letters from thousands of people over the past few months who have thanked me for making their lives better.
  • Newman: This interview has gone down in flames, so I'm going to thank you curtly and basically throw you out of my studio.
  • Peterson: I will respond politely, as I have done for this entire debacle, which has been an amazing feat of patience for me since you clearly lack the intelligence to tie your own shoelaces.

I think that accurately sums up their discussion.


UPDATE: The same friend later posted the following image, which nicely sums up the overall accuracy of Ms. Newman’s responses to Peterson’s statements.

jordan-versus-newman

Posted: Jan 22 2018, 08:47 by Bob | Comments (0)
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