If you wrote me off, I’d understand it, ’cause I’ve been on some other planet.

Sure is quiet around here.

Okay, so real life has intervened. Big time, actually. When I’m not working (which is becoming a smaller and smaller slice of the pie chart of my time), I’m filling out applications or driving to work or interviews for more work. When I’m not doing all that, I’m reading through Miller & Levine’s Biology textbook, studying for a standardized test I’m taking in a few weeks (and I’ve only barely cracked the Chemistry textbook I also want to read for the same day of testing). My time for blogging has been almost nonexistent…I’ve got half-written posts in the wings that have sat dormant for a month or more, and I’ve got topical posts that won’t be topical anymore by the time I decide to actually write them. That, and I’m trying to finish a review or three for the other blogs before I get to any other posts.

Oh, and this blog got flagged as spam by Blogger’s robots, which kept me from editing or posting anything for the last couple of days. Fun fun. I was going to do an “eat my ass out with a spork” post to whoever flagged me, but apparently it was automatic, so I guess I can just aim my ire at whoever designed the automated system so that it doesn’t send an e-mail out to tell you when you can start posting again.

All of which has led to me not only failing to keep up with this blog, but also failing to keep up with the rest of the skeptical blogohedron. I read most of Pharyngula’s output, but after that, it’s kind of a crap shoot. I haven’t done anything for the skeptics’ panel, even though I’ve got ideas and I’ve gotten Akusai’s recent request for assistance. My schedule will be opening up considerably (I think) after July 11th (a day which I have quadruple-booked), so I hope to be on like Khan around that time.

One thing I’d like to mention briefly before I go dormant for a week or so again–the recent spate of celebrity deaths have brought up the “these things happen in threes” canard into the public discourse again. It’s a trivial bit of irrationality, and it probably doesn’t do any harm, but it bugs me because it’s a symptom of a lot of other forms of fallacious thinking. First, the idea is ill-defined: what constitutes a “celebrity death” or “tragedy” (depending on which statement is used) is completely arbitrary, and there’s no time limit on the grouping. This is predictions 101: if you don’t attach a time limit, it’s much more likely to come true.

You know, I thought this string of deaths would be enough to dispel that myth altogether–as far as newsworthy celebrity deaths, Michael Jackson was the fourth in a relatively short time, following David Carradine, Ed McMahon, and Farrah Fawcett. Billy Mays followed a day or three later. I was reminded of Monty Python’s King Arthur–“These things come in fives–” “Three, sir!” “–threes!”

But I must remember never to underestimate the power of people to select and justify the patterns they find in random noise. Which is all this is, when you get right down to it. I mean, take a look at Wikipedia’s list of recent deaths, and tell me exactly what pattern of threes you can find there. It’s just a sort of pareidolia, tracing out familiar patterns where none really exist. It imposes a sort of control over the world, a sense that the believer understands the secret rules that govern traumatic events. It’s compelling–I know I bought into it at one point–because it’s ultimately comforting. As bad as it is to lose three beloved celebrities, if you know how many to expect, then you know when to stop worrying, stop mourning (inasmuch as anyone mourns celebrities). After the third one dies, you can breathe that little sigh of relief, knowing that no other famous people are going to die for awhile–and being utterly wrong.

So, that’s it for now. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the next post.

Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, I want to give a hearty welcome back to Rockstar Ryan. You should do the same. It’ll remind you that my occasional absences are, by comparison, quite brief.

A strangely inappropriate and moderately sexist discussion of punctuation

So, I was talking online with Eric, when this happened:

Eric: man, it is boring in here on Wednesday with no customers
Eric: come by stuff guy
Me: Stuff Guy hates it when I come by him
Eric: oops
Eric: I meant “buy stuff COMMA guy”
Eric: geez
Me: COMMA guy is the mortal enemy of the Editors’ Brigade
Eric: not this again
Me: Especially Unnecessary use of Capitalization Girl
Eric: I hate that Bitch
Me: You think she’s bitchy? You should see Period Lass

Um, yeah.

Still alive

So, I just got an XBox 360. And consequently, I just got XBox Live. And consequently started a gamertag and such. I don’t have many games yet (Incredible Hulk, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Beautiful Katamari, and Fable–plus TMNT on Live Arcade), but feel free to look me up and join my Avengers or something. It’s Eratosthenes83, because I was tired and my favorite obscure Greek mathematician was on my mind for some reason.

Recycled Content!

Those of you who read my other blog already know about my computer woes. Things are going to get worse before they get better over here, despite the fact that there’s a lot of things I want to post here. Keep an eye on the “recent comments” widget on the side there, because there are some old comments I want to respond to (including weighing in on the hate crime thing, and apologizing/explaining myself to Dunc on the <A href="
http://dubitoergo.blogspot.com/2008/04/have-you-found-jesus.html”>Jesus post). And don’t get me started on the backlog of posts on my regular blogs that I have to read. I whittled down my “regular” haunts when I lost the PC (it’s been way too long since I could has cheezburger on a regular basis), and now the situation’s even worse.

But until then, I noticed that Akusai resurrected a meme he found at Bronze Dog’s place. So, since that will allow me to actually write something for the blog while looking over my shoulder every thirty seconds to make sure a client hasn’t walked in, I figured I ought to do it. Clicky-clicky to see below the fold:

Accent: Midwestern American. I say “pop” instead of “soda.” I wish I had some cool British accent, but instead I get stuck with this blandness.

Booze: Nerd Beer. And Cherry Coke, but only the real stuff. I can’t stand grenadine.

Chore I hate: Doing dishes by hand. The day I get an apartment or house with a dishwasher, I will probably fall to my knees and weep hot tears of joy.

Dog or Cat: Dog. I like cats, but I don’t like having to remember to take Claritin every day (and I really don’t like itchy eyes and sneezing).

Essential Electronics: My computer(s), my iPod, my cell phone, and my awesome new speaker system/DVD player. In that order. Oh, and does my sonic screwdriver count?

Favorite Cologne: Used to be Brut Actif Blue, but that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s Ralph Lauren Polo Sport, which I like, but not as much as my girlfriend does.

Gold or Silver: I only ever played Pokémon Blue.

Hometown: Right now? Macomb, IL. Hopefully not for much longer, though I’ll probably stick around in the Land of Lincoln.

Insomnia: Overrated film. Oh, you mean the condition? Not since I was a kid. I’m a night-owl, though, so it’s in my nature to stay up until I’m exhausted.

Job title: Graduate Assistant, Student Teacher, Thong Supermodel.

Kids: Someday in the distant future. Until then, I’m busy corrupting my little brother. Case in point: his requested bedtime reading for the last several times I’ve seen him has been from the Eyewitness Book on Chemistry. On Sunday, it was Mendeleyev and the Periodic Table!

Living arragements: A slightly-too-small apartment with the kitchen in the hallway.

Most admirable traits: Humility.

Not going to cop to: Not knowing what “cop to” is supposed to mean.

Overnight hospital stays: None so far. Eventually my appendix will burst and infect my tonsils and gall bladder, giving me nasty kidney stones and putting me in traction, I’m sure.

Phobias: Heights. Or, more specifically, the feeling of falling. But when I’m high up I tend to imagine that feeling, which leads back to heights.

Quote: From me? Or from someone else, of which I approve? I’ll assume the former and say “Oh my god, I think I killed a hooker,” which was on my whiteboard for a year in undergrad.

Religion: Garden, fairies, bottom, you know the drill.

Siblings: Two brothers, both younger.

Time I wake up: In the morning, when the ‘larm gives out a warning, and I don’t think I’ll ever make it on time.

Unusual talent or skill: I have a knack for remembering lots of random trivia about trivial things.

Vegetable I love: Romaine lettuce, corn-on-the-cob, carrots, broccoli (with ranch dressing), and potatoes in various forms.

Worst habit: Almost certainly procrastination and a lack of punctuality.

X-rays: Dental, both wrists (more than once), one leg, left elbow, and I think that’s it.

Yummy foods I make: Everything I make is yummy. Recently, I’ve actually gotten pretty good at pancakes. But steak, hamburger, meatballs of various nationalities, chicken in several shapes, and several sorts of pasta, to be specific. It’d be better if my oven weren’t from the turn of the previous century.

Zodiac sign: I saw it, and it opened up my eyes.

We are the cartoon heroes, oh-whoa-oh!

So, I’ve been on Facebook a lot lately, mainly playing “My Heroes Ability,” a game based on “Heroes” the TV series. The game’s addictive, and at least a little more fun than the second season of the source material. I’ve started up a little group, Occam’s Raiders, and I’m extending this as my invitation for folks here to join. Besides, this would be a good time, if you haven’t already, to become my Facebook buddies.

RPGs? Social networking groups? Am I 13? Oy vey.

Spreading the Dumb

It’ll still be a few days before normal posting resumes: finals, papers, etc. In the meantime, everyone should head over to Jon’s and listen to this insane phone call. Move your keyboard; you don’t want to break it in the inevitable barrage of “headdesk” incidents.

March Search Madness

It’s that time again!

No, time to look at the search strings from the past month.

Also, time to apologize for that video; it’s the better of the two “Wheel of Morality” bits on YouTube, but it still kind of blows.

born again skeptics bible” – I think you’re looking for this.
what kind of food could make breast bigger” – There are just so many jokes, I don’t know where to begin.
God as rapist” – In order to rape someone, you have to exist.
Jesus Christ and Ego sum” – I read that as “I am Jesus Christ and Ego,” but I’m not sure if you mean you have a big ego (likely, since you think you’re Jesus), or if you’re claiming that the third arm of the Trinity was The Living Planet.
Descartes full of shit” – Positively overflowing, I believe, was the conclusion.
what kind of god is God” – the unlikely kind.
what kind of god are you?” – the wannabe kind.
generic eulogies” – You are a terrible excuse for a human being.
Sci-Fi Channel Shows” – you left out “suck.”
bumper Sticker: It’s a Baby Not a Choice” – I like Jess’s idea: “I’m a woman, not an incubator.”
pet crayfish facts” – They have ceased to be, I’m afraid. There were three left at the end, and I had to euthanize them; they wouldn’t have survived the trip home for break. If it’s any consolation, I felt really bad about it.
shakespeare on the law of attraction” – “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”–Macbeth Act V, scene v.
cool facts about crayfish” – they like peas.
“I want only the picture of the room in the last supper drawing”
dubito ergo sum horton hears a who prolife” & “things that make me happy blog horton hears a who” – Searches which brought our latest Anonymous pro-lifer all the way from Dayton, OH.
“explain This is the sum of the day: do nothing to others which, if done to you, would cause you pain” – The Ethic of Reciprocity; apparently this is a version out of the Koran. Seems a little more specific than the one in the Bible, which itself is more specific than the best available.
If Evolution Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Evolve+Blogspot” – And then the outlaws will be better adapted than the lawful people, and then what will you do?
I got over ten searches with some iteration of “moody bible institute professor discussing case for christ” or “first professor from moody bible institute to speak on the case for christ dvd” from all over the country, right in the last three or four days of March. Anyone know why? Did TBN show “Case for Christ” or something?

My favorite of those searches was this one, though: “case for christ dvd moody professor.” – “I want to find out who that moody professor was.”
curios+schrodinger’s cat+faith+sometime” – I’d love to buy some Schrödinger’s Cat curios, but I wouldn’t want to buy one on faith alone. I might open the box and find out it’s not what I wanted.
lolcat relaunch” – I can haz retcon?
ralph nader atheist” – Still a jackass. Thankfully, he doesn’t seem to be getting any media attention…or other attention, for that matter.
koinoniphobia confessions” – Unintelligible search of the month second runner-up.
“enfreude” s” – Unintelligible search of the month runner-up.
“whenever something is to unimportant it rejects it that is how the human mind works” – Unintelligible search of the month winner!
harvester of stillborn souls” – Not as messy as the Wheat Thresher of Discarded Afterbirth.
“”the secret” “bullshit” quantum” – Right on all counts.
2.71828 song” – “E-e-vil Woman”?
anti-feminist examples in “anthem” by ayn rand” – Well, let’s start with the author…
artl sex” – Isn’t that sex between die-cast tractors? Oh, that’s Ertl sex.
christianity exaggerated by followers” – Well, yeah, obviously.
comparing jesus and ceasar augustus” – I’m at a loss, both for facts and jokes. Anyone want to weigh in?
contenders for the real shakespeare” – In this corner, the Bard himself, the Swan from Avon, William Shakespeare! And in this corner, the Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and about a gajillion others, without so much as a shred of evidence to overturn Occam’s Razor. It’s a TKO by the Brat from Strat!
did the apostles buy a donkey for jesus?” – Yeah, they were always spending money on Jesus’s ass.
dicto ergo sum” – What is that, ‘I dictate, therefore I am’?
do ergo sum” – “I give, therefore I am.” Nice name for a charity.
do do do …. dah dah dah … thats all i want to say to you” – Sting reads my blog?
hellbound atheism blog” – Guilty as charged.
im a agnostic and atheist bother me” – You’ll get over it.
it is better to mourn than to have joy” – Go cry, emo kid.
is dr seuss pro choice?” – Dr. Seuss isn’t pro-much of anything these days.
“tom foss nebraska” – I slept through it, both ways. No offense, Ryan.
what does t mean in the clapeyron equation” – It means “the letter that starts the word ‘the’.”
what God would look like” – I don’t know, but he’d sound like Alan Rickman.
attract what you want from ur thoughts” – I can haz wishful thinking?
cool facts about gel electrophoresis” – Um…all facts about gel electrophoresis.
things people have said about Dr. Seuss” – He got in a knife fight with Mercer Mayer and had a threesome with Stan and Jan Berenstain.
what are the 6 things that make up the atomic theory” – Electrons, protons, neutrons, Dopey, Sneezy, and Doc.
classic sex blogspot” – What?
what if mary had aborted jesus bumper sticker” – There’d be a lot fewer stupid bumper stickers, that’s for sure.
when to use words like ergo” – When you’re speaking Latin or pompous.
10 things i would do if i was god” – I hope one of them is “comment on this thread.”