James Randi’s at it again!

I like James Randi. The ‘father of skepticism’, as he’s been called, has made a career of using science and fact to debunk all sorts of outlandish claims by pseudo-sciences and bogus quackery. He’s questioned the claims of homeopathy before, as we’ve reported on this blog. Now he’s come out with a new video challenge, complete with assistance from dozens of other sceptics. The Los Angeles Times reports: In an online video, Randi consumed an overdose of homeopathic sleeping pills to demonstrate that they have no effect, and skeptics elsewhere consumed large overdoses of other homeopathic drugs in similar demonstrations.

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When ‘green’ isn’t very ‘green’ after all!

I’m amused to find that the ‘eco-friendly’ reusable cloth shopping bags touted by some as a more environmentally responsible alternative to plastic shopping bags . . . aren’t. Cotton bags offered by many supermarkets may be less ‘green’ than plastic carriers – and may cause more global warming, according to scientists. As a greater amount of energy goes into making a cloth carrier than a polythene one, a cotton bag has to be used 131 times before it has the same environmental impact than its plastic counterpart And if a plastic bag is re-used as a bin liner, a cotton

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Doofus Of The Day #447

Today’s winners are two workmen from Florence, Alabama. Scott Raymond Burgert, 45, and Bradley Thomas Jones, 40, both of Florence, are charged with first-degree theft of property and trafficking marijuana, Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton told the Florence Times Daily. Burgert and Jones were part of a larger building crew that was refurbishing the police station’s first floor. The two were given the task of installing an exhaust fan from the evidence vault – Which Chief Singleton said was needed to extract ‘fumes’ emanating from confiscated drugs stored there. The large amount of marijuana, from a 2004 case, was scheduled

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Saving HMS Ark Royal?

I’m intrigued by a suggestion that the former flagship of the Royal Navy, the small aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, may be saved from the scrapyard after all. The Daily Mail reports: Ark Royal could be saved from the scrapheap under plans to turn it into a heliport. The Royal Navy aircraft carrier, axed in last October’s defence cuts and due to be decommissioned next month, could be based on the Thames by May 2012. HMS Ark Royal in Grand Harbor, Malta (image courtesy of MaritimeQuest) The 693ft vessel would be manned by around 150 former servicemen, for whom it

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More than you ever wanted to know about toilet design!

I was intrigued to read an article about the problems faced by hotels in getting their toilets to perform reliably. That perfect pot — or “bowly grail,” if you will — was found in something called the Champion 4, made by American Standard, a toilet so powerful it can supposedly flush 18 golf balls, 38 rubber tubes, 16 water wigglers and 40 feet of tissue without getting clogged. According to James Walsh, American Standard’s vice president and general manager of consumer fixtures, the Champion 4 proves that not all low-flow toilets do a crappy job. “The first generation of low-flow

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A new Panama Canal – without the canal?

I was interested to read that China and Colombia are talking to each other about a new transport route across central America. The BBC reports: The proposed transport route is intended to promote the flow of goods between Asia and Latin America. The plan is to create a “dry canal” where the Pacific port of Buenaventura would be linked by rail, across Colombia, to the Atlantic Coast. Trade between Colombia and China has increased from $10m in 1980 to more than $5bn last year. The announcement came from the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, who told the Financial Times that

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Painted trees???

The good people at the always-interesting Dark Roasted Blend have just published an article about an artist, Curtis Killorn. Curtis tells us about his art: “I paint dead trees in bright colors in the mountains of Colorado as public art. “Nature is already so beautiful and full of such depth and grace… and it is NOT my intention to mask or enhance it in any way. Much in the way that we paint each other’s skin out in the desert, the intention is bring out the beauty which is already there. “I have a ‘thing’ for trees and see the

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Two different visions of State government

In a very interesting five-part series, journalist Mark Hemingway analyzes the different approaches to government found in Texas and California. In the first, he posits: Among the states, it has become clear there are two competing visions of political economy in America, embodied by California and Texas. One vision involves the economic devastation that comes of an overregulated economy. The other reveals the prosperity unleashed by smaller government. Broadly speaking, the two states have many similarities. They have diverse economies, large urban areas, a border with Mexico and similar demographic make-up, with Hispanics a third of the population. Yet one

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Is sumo sexy enough to sell cars?

I’m a bit mind-boggled by the decision of Subaru’s Canadian operation to use Sumo wrestlers in ‘sexy’ poses to sell the 2011-model Forester SUV. Here’s their advertisement. I can’t help recalling the famous ‘Where’s The Beef?‘ advertisement (which you can see on YouTube, if you missed it). This advertisement’s less about ‘beef’ and more about ‘beefcake‘, I guess . . . and you’ll have no trouble finding the lard! Peter

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