Monday, 22 October 2012

Monday Musings #8

So, in an attempt to get back to updating this blog of mine a bit more regularly, here’s another Monday Musings; since it’s been months since I actually wrote one of these in the morning, however, I’m going to drop that part from the title (alliteration be damned).

Rowan Atkinson (aka. Mr Bean aka. Blackadder aka. legendary British comedian who’s creative capacity makes us all look pathetic in comparison) has come out in support of the ‘Reform Section 5’ campaign, giving the movement a much-needed popular front man. You can view his ten minute speech on why he supports the cause here; it’s as articulate and entertaining as you’d expect from him, and has some delicious references to my favourite scene from Not The Nine O’Clock News.

Finally got ahold of a copy of the late and great Christopher Hitchens’ ‘The Portable Atheist’, thanks to the shiny new Kindle I’ve recently acquired (don’t judge me too harshly; books are expensive, and I am but a poor student who’s course books on their own cost far too bloody much). His introduction is of the standard you’d expect from the Hitch, but the book really shines with the variety of authors and commentators Hitchens chose to pull extracts and essays from. A thoroughly interesting read.

Our wonderful Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is makingthat hole he’s digging ever deeper. Perhaps he’s hoping that if he goes far enough he’ll finally be incinerated by the earth’s core in a mercy killing.

Finally, I thought I’d end with a rather awesome quote that I found from an author I’ve been a fan of for a very long time. H P Lovecraft is best known for being the guy who spawned the Cthulhu Mythos, but he had some interesting thoughts on humanity and religion too.

“You are forgetting a human impulse that, despite its restriction to a relatively small number of men, has all through history proved itself as real and vital as hunger – as potent as thirst or greed. I need not say that I refer to that simplest yet most exalted attribute of our species – the acute, persistent, unquenchable craving TO KNOW.”
- H. P. Lovecraft, ‘A Letter on Religion’

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Facebook ‘Privacy Notices’ Won’t Help You

So there’s been a big stir of late over the fact that Facebook is now a publicly-traded business, with a lot of people now concerned about their privacy and the potential for violations of it. A little paranoid? Perhaps, but this is the internet; it’s important to be aware of the information that you’re putting out and the chance for it to come back to haunt you.

Such concerns seem to be the main cause of the ‘Facebook Privacy Notice’ chain update that’s doing the rounds on the popular social media website. This thing (you can view a copy of one of it’s many variations here at has been around since June of this year, but as it’s now seemingly made the jump across the pond and is still spreading I thought I’d devote a quick post about it.

So let’s start with the bad news.

Sorry guys, but this Privacy Notice won’t help to protect your privacy online at all.

Your rights, responsibilities and access to things like privacy all stem from Facebook’s ‘Terms of Service’ (or ToS), which you agree to when you first sign up for the site. These are what govern who has access to your page and for what purpose; simply posting an update citing a couple ofpieces of US legislation (which are unrelated to social media and privacy and therefore irrelevant) cannot change that.

So long as you are using Facebook, it’s assumed that you are in acceptance of the ToS. If you’re not, you’re only option is to not use the site. That’s just how it works, sadly.

Concerns about your privacy online are valid, don’t get me wrong. Employers are known to read into your online life and the things you’ve posted, so it’s not a bad thing to be concerned about who can see what about you on the internet. But posting disclaimers such as this won’t help you.

You have concerns regarding who can see your content on Facebook?

Then be sure to monitor that content.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

People Believe the Strangest Things

This dolphin honestly looks like he's just told a really bad joke

Hey guys. Apologies for not updating this blog of mine in quite a well; turns out Fourth Year of University is pretty tough stuff. I’m starting to get into the swing of things, though, so hopefully I’ll be able to return to more regular updates soon.

I’ve had a strange couple of weeks on top of the university work and all the society shenanigans, too. I was discussing the pros and cons of veganism with a friend in the pub. I attended a lecture on the 7 World Trade Center by someone who I think was a proponent of the 9/11 Truth Movement. I’ve been watching way too much ‘Ancient Aliens’, simply because the whole theory is awesomely hilarious.

But easily the strangest thing I’ve learned that people believe in, though, is all to do with dolphins. 
Turns out there are people (such as the late neuroscientist John C. Lily) who believe that dolphins are just as (if not morethan) intelligent as humans, and some even believe that they possesstherapeutic and/or even telepathic powers. Check out this episode of ‘Penn &Teller: Bullshit’ (assuming you haven’t already seen it), if you’re interested. The two of them aren’t exactly… impartial, it’s important to stress, but they never claimed to be in the first place.

So, internet, tell me.

Other than the belief in god (because that’s an obvious one, considering that this is an atheist blog), what is the strangest thing you’ve learned that people believe in?