Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SA rapture man apologises

SA rapture man apologises: "The SA follower of the US evangelist who predicted the end of the world is being ridiculed, but still believes the end will come on October 21."

This man spent $140,000 of his life savings on billboards promoting Harold Camping's absurd May 21, 2011 Rapture date. Now he has bought into Camping's wild claims of an "invisible" or "spiritual" judgment, as if Camping had any credibility left. It's "Sunk cost" thinking at its finest.

How convenient for Camping that the May 21 event turned out to be something vague, undefined and supernatural with no detectable evidence in the real world.

Con Man Camping Still at it

Harold Camping has been manipulating his followers for decades with false promises of an imminent Rapture. His repeated date predictions have all failed and now the false prophet has defended the failure of his much trumpeted May 21 date with another blast of shoddy rationalization, claiming that the world will now end in five months. As one critic commented "Third time's the charm."

The general idea seems to be that some sort of vague spiritual event occurred on May 21, and the five months of tribulation Camping predicted will instead be skipped as an act of divine mercy. The October 21 date he picked for the actual destruction of the Earth still stands. He's claiming he was just wrong about the Rapture happening on May 21.

So what happened on the 21st?
"We've always said October 21 was the day," Camping said during his show. "The only thing we didn't understand was the spirituality of May 21. We're seeing this as a spiritual thing happening rather than a physical thing happening. The timing, the structure, the proofs, none of that has changed at all."
Ahh, vague spiritual BS. That's what happened. It's like talking to a psychic or ghost hunter. Let's do some more digging to see if Camping elaborates:

Saturday was "an invisible judgment day" in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.
"We’ve always said May 21 was the day, but we didn’t understand altogether the spiritual meaning," he said. "May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment."
What, pray tell, is "an invisible judgment day" supposed to be? Does this mean God has randomly decided to just skip the bulk of the nasty, horrible things predicted in the Bible? Fark commentators take a stab at explaining Camping's "Invisible Judgment Day"(tm) and end up doing a better job illuminating the issue than Camping himself.

In the mean time, Camping's ministry has whitewashed the Family Radio Web site, scrubbing it of all mention of the failed May 21 prediction. It's a very Orwellian memory hole.

Bob Hansen, one of the poor fools who were promoting the idiotic May 21 date, granted an interview to discuss his reaction to the failed prediction. It's a very depressing example of "Sunk Cost" thinking. People who have invested a good deal of their time and resources, often burning bridges with  friends and family, have trouble accepting evidence that all their effort and sacrifice was wasted. Instead of admitting they were wrong and trying to make amends, they instead rationalize their decisions and try to find ways to excuse the failure that should have forced them to realize they'd been misled. This is the same psychological phenomena that keeps people trapped in Multi-Level-Marketing scams and Pyramid schemes.

PZ Myers has his own take on the matter that includes a lot of interesting links and a general condemnation of religion as a whole.

Then there's a chilling quote from Camping:

I don't have any responsibility. I'm only teaching the Bible. I'm telling ... this is what the Bible says. I don't have spiritual rule over anybody ... except my wife as the head of the household.
Given such control over his wife, it's no surprise that instead of leaving the fraud, she's instead said she's "a little bewildered" at the complete and utter failure of is prediction. Apparently she's been wallowing in the false prophet's nonsense for too long to see clearly anymore. That, or she's afraid of him. He is pretty old school in many of his Bible interpretations.I wouldn't be surprise if he used a literal rod to beat his wife and children when they disobeyed.

The really chilling part of the quote is how Camping washes his hands of all responsibility for what's happened. It doesn't matter that it was his web of lies that ruined so many people financially and rent so many families asunder. Camping apparently believes it's THEIR fault for believing him. I wonder how many con artists use the same logic to absolve themselves of responsibility for cheating lonely old widows out of their savings.

In all of this only one group is really coming forward to try and help the people who were fooled by Camping. Atheist to Rapture Victims: You're Not Stupid. Funny how a group that's usually stigmatized by the religious is reaching out, while Camping is desperately trying to extend his exploitation of these people for another few months. Fark commentators disagree with the claim that Canning's followers aren't stupid.

I wonder what Jesus would think of this whole affair.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Most Annoying

Dear nature. The cold weather and rain is hampering my efforts to smoke my annual spring cigar.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Camping's Crazies

I think Camping's Crazies are planning a mass suicide or terrorist act for May 21. Watch the news. Some of these jokers are probably going to try to bring about the end times with some acts of their own. They'll consider it an act of mercy, sparing the "Left Behind" from months of misery by ending their lives just before the Rapture. I'll bet a few even plan to use a terrorist act to scare people into last second repentance. Remember, these jokers believe that there will be no additional salvation after the Rapture, so anyone "Left Behind" will be screwed. If however they can scare people into repenting at the last second, getting in just under the wire so to speak, BOOM! A saved soul!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Beginner books for brewing beer

While most brewing books have an obligatory "How to brew" chapter, there are two primary beginner texts for homebrewers.

How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time

The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition. It's best read with the companion volume The Homebrewer's Companion

While they both cover a lot of the same information, they have two distinct approaches. Papazian takes a far more artistic, poetic tack. In one of his books, he waxes poetic about a Prickly Pear Mead and how he brews a batch every year. He buries a few bottles at the top of a nearby mountain to be aged by nature.

Palmer takes a more scientific approach and gets to the nuts and bolts.

You get pretty much the same information from both books, with the main difference being the writing style and organization.

I subscribe to two brewing magazines. Zymurgy, edited by Papazian, reflects his attitude towards brewing, while "Brew Your Own" reflects a more Palmer oriented approach, including a series of articles scientifically testing various homebrew traditions and urban legends.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

SEO, it's Not Black Magic

Spin, spin, spin, for many firms it's all about the spin. Overblown claims are common on the Internet, especially when dealing with the touchy issue of Search Engine ranking.  The perception is that the better a site fares in Search Engine rankings the more money the associated business / charity / whatever will make. Many firms exploit this perception by making wild promises about how they'll boost your ranking in various search engines.

More is not better

The House Rabbit Network (HRN) is a New England based animal rescue group. Their web site, rabbitnetwork.org gets a lot of traffic from people seeking information about keeping rabbits as pets. Starting in 2007, they started getting traffic from a new and unexpected source. "Adult" search terms started directing people to rabbitnetwork.org.  It didn't take long for the webmaster to figure out what was going on.

The HRN web site had recently added "How to Sex Your Rabbits", an article about determining the gender of a rabbit. It's one of the better online articles on the topic and a lot of other rabbit related sites were already linking to it. The large number of links to the article gave it a higher Google page rank. The text contained phrases like "bunny" and "sex" which caused people seeking, er, "mature" content to be directed to the site. To make matters worse, people began posting the URL to adult themed forums.

From the view of many SEO "experts" this was a grand success. The site was getting more traffic from a larger and more diverse audience. From the view of the rescue group, this was an annoyance.  The increased traffic didn't negatively impact server performance or increase bandwidth costs, but it didn't result in people donating to the 501(c)3 registered charity or increase rabbit adoptions from HRN's foster homes.

People who stumbled across the site while searching for mature content weren't interested in a pet rabbit.

Misdirection to kill a campaign

In February 2008, the UK chain Marks & Spencer was engaged in a battle with the British union "Unite." As part of the conflict, Unite chose to engage in what they called "cyber-warfare." While the article was light on details, the union was probably spending £500 on Google Adwords.  The trouble hit when someone posted the article to the news aggregation site digg.com with the headline "Union to hijack global search engine - Google!." The headline depicted the relatively straightforward purchase of some paid search results as a form of black hat hacking. As a result, a large number of digg.com members searched for "Marks & Spencer" on Google, clicked the link to the Union grievances and then went back to digg.com to ask "Who the heck is Marks & Spencer?"

In short order the £500 had been burned up and searches for "Marks & Spencer" no longer resulted in an ad directing people to Unite's grievances page. A lot of people saw the ad, but few of them knew who Marks & Spencer was. As a result, the campaign had little effect on Marks & Spencer's bottom line.

The relatively low cost of advertising in search results may level the playing field a bit, but if a competitor can burn up your paid clicks it won't benefit you very much. Did the digg.com link help Unite's campaign? Not really.  Many of the paid search results went to people who had no involvement in the battle between Unite and M&S. Unite would have fared better if they'd not spoken to the press about the campaign.

Better means people want to go there

In both these example, the traditional "More is Better" SEO criteria was met. Both HRN and Unite got more traffic and more attention. From a practical standpoint, neither of them benefited.  Unite's money was burned up serving ads to people who didn't even recognize the name "Marks & Spencer". HRN didn't place any more rabbits.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The most useful image on the Internet

Upon reflection I think this image may be the most useful one to be found online at the moment. It has so many applications.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What we always suspected

One Soul Thrust still claiming to have been pirated

One Soul Thrust, the unknown band whose manager Cameron Tilbury used advertisements to claim they'd achieved "Pirate Platinum status" has scrubbed their twitter feed of mention of the debacle. They still have a blog up yammering about their fictional downloads.

We've recently found out that our debut cd "1ST" has gone beyond platinum status!! While this is cause for SERIOUS celebration,yes indeed, its extremely bittersweet since almost all of these "sales" weren't sales. It was illegal downloads

As anyone following the band or their manager knows, the above simply isn't true. No one downloaded One Soul Thrust. Their manager, through incompetence or deliberate deception, made the claim based upon dodgy advertisements and nothing more. He didn't even verify the files were available online. This can be said with confidence because if he HAD tried to download the files to verify the authenticity of the ads, he'd have learned the files did not exist.

Despite this, One Soul thrust feels compelled to opine on their fictional victimization by pirates who don't exist:

Downloading music illegally is wrong. It's theft; no different than stealing off the racks at HMV. It hurts ALOT of people.

You know what else hurts people One Soul Thrust? Accusing innocent people of theft, which is exactly what you and your manger have done. I would venture to guess that accusing an innocent person of stealing from you does more harm than downloading an MP3 off a pirate web site.

On a final note, cashboxcanada.ca still has a link to the debunked claims of piracy on their web site's front page. It says a lot about cashboxcanada.ca's lack of integrity that they're still promoting an article that's been ripped to shreds and shown to be based upon bad data. Are they lazy and incompetent, or do they simply not care if piracy claims are true or not?

Regardless, I'll use the exact same standard of evidence employed to support their article to do some research of my own. By their own standard of evidence the following MUST be a real, heavily traded video:

"Cashboxcanada.ca shareholder meeting child sacrafice to Pan"

Shocking! Human sacrifices to a pagan deity! I wonder if the artists associated with this degenerate outfit know about this? Remember folks, the claim that Cashboxcanada.ca engages in human sacrifice at shareholder meetings is supported by just as much evidence as the claim that One Soul Thrust was the victim of piracy in the first few months of 2011.