Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sales pitch

I gathered a new appreciation for quality salesmanship today. A guy nearly bullied me into buying a totally pointless water filtration system. You know the kind that home owners are supposed to get because tap water is apparently killing people left, right and center?

He came to my door, which I answered foolishly thinking that it could be the real estate. He then said that he heard that I had some complaints about our water, which I did. One evening recently a neighboring construction site apparently dumped a bit of clay or something into the water - which cleared up promptly and caused no problems. That is my hypothesis at least. Anyway, he must have heard this story from the neighbor. He asked if I knew what happened. Of course I said no, although I had a few hypotheses, none of which involved millions of people suffering from low quality tap water in Australia. At this point I held out hope that maybe he was a city council worker door knocking to explain the situation with the construction. But then the catalog came out. Urghh.

"I'll tell you why" he said. He told me all about the deadly chemicals in my water - chlorine, arsenic, chloroform, something mumbled that sounded hideously dangerous, and *gasp* even bacteria. Bacteria! In my water! Good heavens no! I'm surprised that he didn't mention fluorine. He proceeded to tell me all about what their filters do. It turns out that it doesn't just purify water, it adds trace minerals to make you healthier. You mean, just like tap water? I didn't say that although I wanted to. His barrage was just so fast that I was left there: standing at the door completely dumbfounded. I must have looked like the usual sucker because he kept going on with this shtick for several minutes with me just standing there wide eyed. Truth is, he was selling such blatant rubbish I couldn't believe my own eyes! For only $27 something or other a month (for the first month, and then $40 after that) he would sell me a filter that:
  1. Either does nothing at all, or
  2. Modifies the tap water in a way that is completely untested, undocumented and unregulated
I'll stick with tap water thanks. Worse yet, to even qualify for the filter you must:
  1. show three points of ID, and
  2. show that you have been living at the premises for at least a month, and
  3. you have to sign some piece of paper on the spot before they make you
  4. put in an application to get the filter, presumably so they can check your credit rating.
  5. Only then can you get it installed.
Can you take away the brochure and study for yourself? Nope, they take that with them. Contact details? Just a phone number. Any journal references? Fat chance. Company name? Didn't even get that bit of info.

Finally, with a not at all subtle look of "do you really want to hurt your family" on his face he asked why I wasn't interested in the offer. I wanted to say "because I'm a physics major and I know how to do some research," or even just "I have some common sense," or "I don't think that the government, for all its faults, is in the business of making the voters and tax payers sick." But I didn't say any of those things. I was too dumbfounded. I just said "I'm not interested."

Oh yeah, and his best line was: "[with our water filter] You'll feel 80% better, because the human body is 80% water."

Well, I've been avoiding this

for 133 days apparently. The simple reason is that
  1. I stopped from posting temporarily, for a very good reason, and
  2. I felt like I had to explain that reason
I won't. So, I'm back, picking up more or less where I've left off with the inane chatter and observations. My apologies to the two (maybe three?) people who read this somewhat regularly.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A thought on 1 Cor 15:14-19

This passage has always made me think of the danger in misquoting things. Compare the straight quotation:
14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
And the cleverly quoted version:
14...Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him ... the dead are not raised. 16... Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; ... 19If ... we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sigh, after a long delay

It has been far too long, again, since I last posted. Oh well. Here's a conversation I had tonight with the missus:

M: Oh by the way, I'm sorry for whacking you in the head so hard earlier?

A: What?? When?

It really was unintentional.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A good vid about science

Check this out.

Science doesn’t have the answers to everything we would like to know about reality. What it does have is the most reliable answers and the most reliable ways of looking for answers. When one adopts scientific principles and procedures, one is saying, “I want to understand things as they really are, not simply how I might want them to be.” Science rewards our genuine curiosity, enabling true learning and discovery. It allows (indeed thrives on) openness to new ideas, while fostering a self-critical approach that prevents that open-mindedness from sliding into gullibility. It gives us access to real-world evidence, rather than encouraging us to accept the unreliable testimony of people whose motive may be to exploit us.

Science allows us, with more certainty than any other approach, to distinguish between true and false claims. Because of this, science leads us along the surest and most intellectually honest path to genuine knowledge about the universe in which we live.

Failure Mode: Calculator

I need a new calculator. This is my poor calculator's pitiful attempt to display a screen full of 8's.

Not surprisingly it was hard to get a good snap of the LCD in a dark room with a hand held point and shoot cam so that pic has been desaturated and unsharp masked. As you can see quite a few of the segments are out. Poor thing.

On the bright side (no pun intended), the physics of how LCD's work is a pretty demonstration of the polarization of light. I thought this was interesting (page 6):
Manufacturers of existing large LCDs often reject about 40 percent of the panels that come off the assembly line. The level of rejection directly affects LCD price since the sales of the good LCDs must cover the cost of manufacturing both the good and bad ones. Only advances in manufacturing can lead to affordable displays in bigger sizes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Don't you hate

those blogs where all they post about are the stupid surveys and quizzes they take? I sure do. So without further ado, my latest quiz result:

Between 50 and 100 monkeys

I'm most like Between 50 and 100 monkeys.

Take More Surveys

Thursday, February 12, 2009



The Froy Marriage Test

Froy Marriage Rating = -1304

"Generally speaking, no woman with an FR of under 250 can be recommended, especially to our less experienced friends. FR-minus women are out from the start."

Approximate Risk of Marriage = 100%

Yeah. I'm screwed.

Which NetHack Monster Are You?

If I were a NetHack monster, I would be a floating eye. I see and sense absolutely everything that happens around me. I just don't do very much about it.
Which NetHack Monster Are You?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is so, so sad.

Name That Movie Villain

A Toast to Richard Hammond

A Beautiful Nutcase

I'm hardly an artist.

In fact, I'm not even close to resembling something that somebody might generously call artistic. My best freehand approximation of a straight line is more like... well... the back of a camel. Yet drawing is something that I truly aspire to be good at. So when I can get a little help from a computer I don't turn away the opportunity. Enter POV-Ray, the persistence of vision ray tracer.

To use POV-Ray you write a description of your scene in an easy to learn Scene Description Language or SDL, which vaguely resembles the C programming language. Then POV-Ray processes the scene description to produce an image.

This is what I, a complete amateur, produced after about an hour of playing with SDL:

If you want to see what real artists can do with POV-Ray I suggest you check out their Hall of Fame gallery. Warning: be sure your chin is over a soft surface. It will drop.

First post (again)

It has come to my attention that a few people actually read my blog (*shock horror*) and I haven't posted for far too long. This is what I do:
  1. Start a project.
  2. Get distracted.
  3. Drop the project.
  4. O(1) months later, feel sad about dropping the project.
  5. Return to step 1.
Step 2 in this case was the Christmas/New year holidays. So, my friends, this is for you: step 5. Consider this my first post of the new year.