The Conspiracy Theory Flowchart

The Conspiracy Theory Flowchart by Crispian Jago.

It is a ‘must have’ for Those Who Know!

It’s also a handy guide to The Hopelessly Uninformed.

Crispian's Conspiracy Flowchart(Click on image, then click again to get the full-blown tangle of theories!) 

The Truth is Out There! I Want to Believe.

Hats off to the amazing Crispian Jago. He’s my new hero!

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Personal sidenote: I was recently invited to the home of some very dear friends. I love going there. Their generosity and hospitality to me over the years is truly overwhelming. During the evening, I had the rare opportunity (i.e. profound misfortune) of running into someone I’d met there once or twice before. This person holds a black belt in Conspiracy Theories. This person is convinced of their intellectual and moral superiority. This person is also an insufferable Know-It-All. This person is, in short, an colossal bore. I smiled. I nodded. I tried not to stick a fork into the person’s neck.

SOOOO… imagine by delight when I came across Crispian Jago’s invaluable chart this morning! I hope, my little geeks and nerdlings, that you have as much fun with it as I did!

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How Thinking About Death Can Lead to a Good Life

I knew it!

The Geek Gang over at ScienceDaily.com have confirmed what I have long suspected!

As a recent article states, “Thinking about death can actually be a good thing. An awareness of mortality can improve physical health and help us re-prioritize our goals and values, according to a new analysis of recent scientific studies. Even non-conscious thinking about death — say walking by a cemetery — could prompt positive changes and promote helping others.”

Past research suggests that thinking about death is destructive and dangerous, fueling everything from prejudice and greed to violence. Such studies related to terror management theory (TMT), which posits that we uphold certain cultural beliefs to manage our feelings of mortality, have rarely explored the potential benefits of death awareness.

“This tendency for TMT research to primarily deal with negative attitudes and harmful behaviors has become so deeply entrenched in our field that some have recently suggested that death awareness is simply a bleak force of social destruction,” says Kenneth Vail of the University of Missouri, lead author of the new study in the online edition of Personality and Social Psychology Review this month. “There has been very little integrative understanding of how subtle, day-to-day, death awareness might be capable of motivating attitudes and behaviors that can minimize harm to oneself and others, and can promote well-being.”

Thinking about death can also promote better health. Recent studies have shown that when reminded of death people may opt for better health choices, such as using more sunscreen, smoking less, or increasing levels of exercise.

One major implication of this body of work, Vail says, is that we should “turn attention and research efforts toward better understanding of how the motivations triggered by death awareness can actually improve people’s lives, rather than how it can cause malady and social strife.”

Write the authors: “The dance with death can be a delicate but potentially elegant stride toward living the good life.”

aa-tribalfang

The Shrine (Movie Review)

As is my custom on occasion, I ventured forth into The Zombie Serengeti the other day to pick me up a movie. This is one that caught my eye.

The Shrine DVD cover art alone got my attention. And yay! A Canadian horror movie, to boot!! Woohoo!

OK, here’s the deal… A group of young journalists looking for the ‘big break’ investigate the disappearances of a number of travellers in rural Poland, but their ambitious ways may lead them to becoming the next victims of a sacrifice practising cult who may be behind the mystery.

Mayhem ensues when… the journalists, two women and a photographer, follow an unusual dark, dense fog in the forest. The two women discover a strange statue in the woods. A shrine, of sorts (hence the title)! The Polish villagers, members of a bizarre cult of human sacrifice, capture the journalists and take them to their paganesque priests for ritual execution/sacrifice.

My two cents… I like the feel of this movie a lot. Today’s western culture bangs up against an old world spirit religion so intense and so visceral, it is sometimes difficult for the modern mind to understand. It is a relatively medium-low budget movie ($1.5 million) but not cheesy and chintzy. Well, the priest costumes are a bit ‘renaissance fair’, but so what? It is a chilling survival horror story with the journalists only beginning to discover the terrible secrets the village hides from the world. And, like any good horror movie, sometimes things are not always what they appear to be! The acting isn’t the best in the world, especially the two women (Cindy Sampson and Meghan Heffern), but the photographer (Aaron Ashmore) does a pretty good job. The ending has a nice twist and it’s dramatically satisfying as well.

Bottom line… Definitely worth a look! All in all, a very entertaining horror movie. Paul Scott at The Horror Hotel [1] describes it as The Wicker Man‘ meets ‘Hostel‘ and I can’t say I disagree with that characterization.

One and a quarter human sacrifice thumbs up!

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[1] For an insightful article on this movie, check out Paul Scott’s review at The Horror Hotel. One such insight is his delightful observation that “this whole mess could be solved with the use of a fence…….that’s right, a fence.” I love it!

Supernatural: Season Six

A while ago, I picked up the DVD box set of Season Six of the Warner Bros television program Supernatural.

I like Supernatural a lot. I remember really liking it the moment I saw the pilot in September, 2005.

(Supernatural title card)

The series premise is quite simple. 

After their mother’s death in a suspicious fire that burns down their house, Dean and Sam Winchester live a life on the road with their father as they grow up. Years pass and the boys team up to find their father, John, who goes missing on a hunting trip. However, their father is not a typical hunter: he hunts supernatural creatures like ghostsvampires, and spirits and he’s trained his sons to do the same. Along the way, Sam and Dean save innocent people, fight creatures and ghosts, and collect clues to their father’s whereabouts. Sam begins to mysteriously develop psychic abilities and visions as they travel. They eventually find and reunite with their father, who reveals that the creature that killed Sam and Dean’s mother years earlier is Yellow-eyes (Azazel) and the only thing that can kill him is a legendary gun created by Samuel Colt. (as per Wikipedia)

(1836 Colt Paterson – aka ‘The Colt’)

A lot of the show’s charm and success has to do with the chemistry between the two brothers, Sam (Jared Padelecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles).

As creator Eric Kripke said, “It’s always been a show about family, much more than it is about anything else. The mythology is only an engine to raise issues about family. A big brother watching out for a little brother, wondering if you have to kill the person you love most, family, loyalty versus the greater good, family obligation versus personal happiness.”

(Sam and Dean and the amazing 1967 Chevy Impala)

The ‘mythology’ Kripke refers to is how the Winchester family investigates supernatural phenomenon, usually (but not always) involving American urban legends. Kripke feels that America’s urban legends are every bit as fleshed out as any world mythologies.

(Supernatural Season Six poster)

The series was only supposed to go for three seasons. Last year, saw the beginning of Season Seven.

On January 12, 2012, the series won Best Sci/Fi TV Series and Best Drama TV Series at the People’s Choice Awards.

Holy Sneezin’ Orgasms, Batman!

My dear friend, SG, passed this snopes.com science article along to me…

It’s the Time for the Sneezin’ of Love.

At first blush, I presumed it was a humourous piece playing on the title of the old sixties hit by the British band, The Zombies.

(The Zombies – part of the musical British Invasion of the Sixties)

And to a certain extent it is.

What I was not expecting, however, was the first lines…

Claim: Sneezing seven times in a row is the same as an orgasm!
Status: False

Personally, I would have thought the status would be, “I wish!”

Another dear friend, LF, added that if this were the case, she’d be “huffing pollen from a brown paper bag.”

I love my friends!

(A very non-photogenic sneeze. Yikes!)

The article goes on to list several other widely believed things about sneezing. For example…

  • You can’t keep your eyes open if you sneeze. (Actually, some people can)
  • If you did manage to sneeze with your eyes open, your eyes would pop out of your head. (Luckily, this is false as well)
  • When you sneeze, your heart stops. (Again, this is false, thank goodness)

Something I am particularly subject to is ‘photogenic sneezing.’ And no, this does not mean that I am really, really, really ridiculously good-looking while sneezing. It means a sneeze that is set off by exposure to bright light. For me, sunny winter days do it to me all the time. You get the light directly from the sun as well reflected off the snow. Bad news. And not in the least orgasmic, I can assure you.

(Oooo, baby!)

Anyway, back to orgasms…

The article puts it best when it states, “The belief that a magic number of sneezes will produce an instant of sexual satisfaction is false. (Had it been true, those afflicted by allergies would be the happiest people on earth, and they’re not.) While sneezing and orgasm are regarded as somewhat akin in that both produce powerful bodily convulsions, one doesn’t feel like the other.”

(Does this put you in the mood?)

Despite science pooh-poohing a perfectly good myth, I myself will regard sneezers in a whole different light this winter and may replace my usual “Bless you!” or “Gezinterheit” with… “Was it good for you?”

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