Tuesday, 31 July 2007


People have a need for closure. They hear snippets (of gossip) like "Frank's had a new baby" or "Sarah has an exciting new job with..." and they want to know more. One could end the story with "and they lived happily ever after", but that's not real life, when the next question is "And then what happened?" Only when someone dies do you get any real closure. (And when you die, but that's another matter.)

I'm going on a secondment for new years, working in another government department. As part of the need for closure, here at my current working area, they are doing the "whip around" for a leaving card and money for some pressie (although I suspect it might be vouchers as I wouldn't think people around here know what I really want). This is done more out of a social need for closure than any other reason (considering I don't know most of these people that well, one can't use the "they want to send you off properly" excuse. Most of them will just be in it for the morning tea.)

But, and here's the thing: I don't need closure. I'd like to just leave when the day rolls to a close, and then start the next day at the new place. (And I'm not the only one who wanted that, but they got a leaving thing as well.) Societal needs are powerful, and in many ways the individual doesn't matter.

It's really tempting to call in sick...


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Monday, 30 July 2007

I got pictures, and so do you

Yep, still got more pictures yet. From pages 3, 18 and 26.

This one was captioned in the book. And the caption was...?
"Bermuda Triangle" of course!


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Sunday, 29 July 2007

Perhaps they could try Ufocusyn?

Hey, we got our own group of Ufologists here in NZ, and they have themselves a slew of stories to tell. (I particularly noted this story given that I am coincidentally talking with someone about UFOs are the moment.)

This newspaper article is a fairly typical example of reporting. It starts off with the tale of a UFO sighting that someone is reluctant about because "Hansen knows how many people react to her story." But eventually we get to the tale: "When Hansen and her husband came over the brow of the hill that night, the bottom of the valley ahead was out of sight. She still dreams of being able to peek down that valley a little further. What they did see was the whole valley bathed in a bright white light. It was like someone had flicked a switch, but the light was brighter than the brightest sunlight. The car stalled and the couple sat there stunned. On either side of the valley she could see virtually every tree lit up so brightly they had a silvery white colour." Then "Hansen began to notice her arms and legs were feeling numb and tingly. She heard a deep buzzing sound and felt dizzy and faint. She tried to talk to her husband to ask him if he felt the same, but she couldn't speak. Her next recollection is sitting next to him in the dark, both of them staring out the front window of the car."

Wow. Sounds really weird. What the heck could have happened? (A strange light... they decide to stop, it's late at night, they fall asleep... MUST BE ALIENS!) Yeah, to be honest, she knows how people react, because it just doesn't sound credible.

After that, there are more UFO stories related, and the discussion of Ufocus NZ> Towards the end, we get the Skeptic coming in, but the last word is given to the believers.

The big problem with UFO stories is that they are not replicable or testable. As Russell (the skeptic) points out, in today's society as people expect aliens, they see aliens. But "He says just because something is a mystery, doesn't make it an alien spacecraft."

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Saturday, 28 July 2007


I play the puzzles at YouPlay, and on each page they have a wee quiz, with a question and four options.

One I came across was "What term is given to the result of length x width of a square?"

Answers were: radius, circumference, area and rectangle (I think). There were 1360 responses for this when I took it. And the number of people with the right answer was...

I also recall there was another math question (about pi being related to the circumference and radius, I think) that also had a scoring that made me depressed. This is as simple a math as you can get!

(It might have been that people misunderstood the question and went for rectangle (if indeed, that was one of the options). That's the only ray of hope I can see...)


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Thursday, 26 July 2007

The power of disbelief

I'm not going to cite the recent homeopathic liposuction case, or the scientific study about prayer vs heart disease, but I am going to state a simple principle:
Any medical practice that claims to treat different medical conditions DO NOT WORK. (Because there are different causal mechanisms, which can't all be affected by one treatment method.)

(Fine, fine, there is the placebo effect, blah blah blah, but aside from that...)

We've got homeopaths, reiki specialists, , and now "prayer rooms".
"Visitors to the rooms – established at churches in Wellington and Auckland, with another planned for Dunedin – receive attention from three-person "prayer teams" who say they can cure conditions as varied as cancer and back pain."

Let me repeat: "they can cure conditions as varied as cancer and back pain." And now let me repeat my above principle: Any medical practice that claims to treat different medical conditions DO NOT WORK.

"[Mr Fox] cited the examples of a woman with an inflamed eye that returned to normal after prayer and another person whose back pain was healed instantly." Oh yeah? Then let's see the medical case histories, reports of doctors who examined these people before and after, and follow up studies that show it's not simply the euphoria of the moment (which explains the evangelical shows).

And remember kids: '[Professor Les Toop] was not aware of any evidence showing prayer could physically heal people. "I'm quite sure there will be multiple anecdotes about, but that's not the same as objective evidence."'

But I'll let them have the last word:

'Prayer minister Lana Schmidt, who helped establish the room in December 2005, said "God's healing power" could cure any physical ailment – but prayer was not a substitute for medical treatment.

"Don't go off your medications because you have got prayer. We would never tell anyone to do that."

Ms Schmidt said she had seen people healed of serious afflictions, though her own condition – kidney failure that keeps her on life support 12 hours a day – was yet to be resolved.'


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Wednesday, 25 July 2007

80c of sweetness

Yeah, I know it's hurting the exporters, but, man, 80c to the dollar! Although I tend to use this source for my exchange rates, but it's going for over 80c too!

Now, if only I had the money to actually buy something. There are certainly a lot of DVD sets I have my eye on. (*Snort* Yeah, like I need more DVDs...)


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Tuesday, 24 July 2007

A Conspiracy of Pictures!

Another set of pictures. This lot is from page 31, page 20 and page 22.

The last one doesn't have a caption, but was captioned (after Peter resent us the picture) in the ConBook. Any guesses as to what that caption was?
The KGBeeGees, of course!


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Monday, 23 July 2007

MST3K suprise!

I was thinking of what to post, and since I'm watching some MST3K at the moment, maybe I could post that. Indeed, whole episodes (and we are talking 90 min episodes here) are available on YouTube. And then I stumbled across this. It's a series of clips that make up some of the most classic lines you'll ever hit in the last few years of MST3K history. Highlarious stuff. (Well, for me at least as I've seen the original episodes!)


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Sunday, 22 July 2007

Cure cancer and julienne fries!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Or rather, desperate times call for grasping at straws which are extremely expensive and wont do anything to say you.

Such as, for example, the machines being pimped by the Rife Centre down in Christchuch, machines that can "zap human diseases ranging from arthritis to prostate problems" by using "audio frequencies to kill harmful micro-organisms in the body".

They look to be targeting the elderly, getting up to $9,000! At that time of life, I'm sure they'll got lots of problems that people can prey on, with, no doubt, the usual outs: sometimes the problems solve themselves (and the treatment is credited with the success), the placebo effect has the power to cure some ills, people die because they came to late/didn't pay enough, or...

There are lots of these things out there. I'm interested in this line: "He was disappointed that a bill to regulate alternative medicines and medical devices was shelved through lack of political support in Parliament this week." I might see if I can find out more about this bill. I wonder if our own Skeptics society know about this.


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Saturday, 21 July 2007


I'm with Alden.

My Harry Potter Spoiler of Doom is:
Hermoine snaps, wands everyone to death.
Get your Harry Potter Spoiler of Doom

I don't have anything against the Potter series, indeed I have read all the books. Just that I'm not obsessed like some people I know. I've said that I will buy the books when they are $5 each, but that's not likely to happen any time soon.


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Friday, 20 July 2007

Fighting crime and good taste!

Okat, one more show, Who Wants To Be A Superhero? This starts next week, and is one of the too many reality TV shows that are out there. But this one is really out there. Headed up by Stan "The Man" Lee, this show is about people being, well, superheroes. Okay, so they can't shoot laser beams out their eyes, but they can exemplify the traits of superheroness, such as bravery, ability to change clothes fast, self-sacrifice, etc. We're pretty much talking "train wreck" here, but you have to keep watching! Check out these people auditioning (and you thought those people in Mystery Men were scary), and realise that some of them did make it into the full show. Excelsior!

(Season One is out on DVD. Dammit. Now I might be able to see episodes five and six!)

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Thursday, 19 July 2007

Hyperdriven all over the place!

Continuing the theme I apparently have this week for Season Two shows, this time I'm talking about Hyperdrive. People describe it as "The Office in space", but I prefer to start with Star Trek and then convert it into a half-hour comedy filtered through British humour senses. It's a fine show indeed. I understand New Zealand is currently screening Series One, but since I don't watch TV, I'm not sure where they are up to. The first episode of Series Two has now screened, and, courtesy of YouTube, here's the first part of it.

(Series One isn't available by itself, but in a double pack with Series Two, out in August. [Since the show is British, we must refer to Series, we must.])

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Wednesday, 18 July 2007


Just a note to say that I now have "folds" working on my blog. There is one annoyance that people might immediately see...

Every post has Read More on it, even if there isn't more to read! Sigh.

I'll be adding (in the future) an [END] tag to indicate the post has finished, so no need to expand...


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Psych out!

Speaking of shows starting up Season Two, another is Psych. This is a comedy detective show where the main character pretends to have psychic powers as he solves cases (he, in fact, has Super Observation Power(tm)!). A very light show, could be deeper, but a lot of fun to be had. The opening credits shows who's in it:

(Season One out on Amazon.)

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Tuesday, 17 July 2007

I did the monster MASH

That's it, I have now watched all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H! That's over 250 episodes. More than 6000 minutes! I watched episodes I remembered, and stuff that was all new to me. I've got a stack of other stuff piled up as I concentrated on this. And now it is all over! With all those DVDs watched, there is only one remaining question. When am I going to get around to watching this again?

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Monday, 16 July 2007

A wee town called Eureka

Season Two of Eureka started last week, and I just wanted to draw your attention to it. It's a light fun show, often "mad scientist of the week", and very enjoyable. The main character, Jack Carter stumbled across the town in the pilot, and became the sheriff. The main point about this town is that the population are descended from uber-geniuses (of the caliber of Einstein) and many of the greatest scientific discoveries have come from this one place. Of course, many of the greatest scientific disasters happen here too. :) (The smilie is because it is a fun show.) Anyways, check out this trailer. (I tried to find the opening titles, but looks like they are verboten.)

(Season One is available via Amazon.)

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Sunday, 15 July 2007

Hey, you got your inanity in my nonsense!

The Christians have been finding themselves facing all sorts of weirdness lately, and it ain't the atheists.

Psychics in Matamata have been giving them a run for their money, offering up a number of services that the Christians find highly dubious. Here are two example quotes:
"I think it's deceptive really, that's my personal opinion. They start with the impression they are trying to help."
"We would believe there is a danger, depending on people's vulnerability and psychological condition."
Now, your quiz is to tell which side was saying what...

But we all know America was founded on Christian values, so I guess we can understand when Christian activists tried to disrupt a Hindu prayer in the Senate. As PZ (whom I'm linking to) points out: "The only part I liked was the request to lead us from the unreal to the real, which is exactly what I say all the time. Only I don't address it to an unreal superman living in hearts."

Ah, but at least we know the carious branches of Christianity can live together. Well, actually, only Roman Catholics is the right path, according to the Pope who goes on to point out all the defects in the other flavours of Christianity. But it's good to know that "These separated churches and communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation."

If only we could really tell which lack of critical thinking was the right way to go...

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Saturday, 14 July 2007

More of those purty pictures...

As ever, click for larger image. First is from page five, second from page nineteen, the third from page twenty.

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Friday, 13 July 2007

I want an iPhone, but...

I don't quite have this plan for it!

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Thursday, 12 July 2007


YouTube.com -> "Madonna Live Earth"

Hey You
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeRZL12SFJk (Official video)

Ray of Light

La Isla Bonita

Hung Up

And that's just the first page of the search results! At least... before they all got removed due to copyright violation! (But don't think I don't have something to watch...)

Not that Madonna is all that eco-friendly...

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Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Me and the TV Movie

So the TV movie screened Tuesday, May 14, 1996, over in the US. Now, being the obsessive fanboy that I am, I got some US contacts (in fact, one US, one Canadian [it screened two days earlier!]) to tape this and send it to me. One week later... it arrived!

I get home from Uni (I lived with my parents), saw the tape, and instantly in front of the TV. We don't tend to eat dinner in front of the TV, nor miss the news, but they recognised there weren't no way I was moving ("This is NEW Doctor Who!"). I don't have any proof, but I am certain I was the first person in New Zealand to see the movie.

We, being the Victoria University Science Fiction Club, wanted to screen the movie, which we did, as a double billing with something else. I wasn't sure what, but on hearing about a certain terrible event, I grabbed The Pertwee Years as we showed that as a fitting tribute. So, we were the first group of people to see the movie.

But the tale doesn't end there, prepare for intrigue and tenseness! We wanted to make some profit off the tape, and so wanted to sell copies. And advertise said offer in TSV. However, Paul turned us down, wanting to keep on side with Roadshow, as they were giving TSV free review tapes. This is a perfectly sensible move on his part, but it pissed me off. (That's the most appropriate word I can pick.)

And then, when, through Kelly (Buchanan), we were asked for a copy of the movie for the Auckland crowd, I knew what my response would be...

However, rationality prevailed, and there was no reason to take this out on all the Aucklanders, so we gave Justin a copy, and they got it just in time for their screening. But they did only give thanks to Kelly, so that didn't engender any more warm feelings.

Still, that was over ten years ago, and nowadays you'd be hardpressed not to find many people who could get you a copy of the latest episodes (within a week, if not the next day). But these are obviously memories that stuck with me(*).

(*) Emotion is a good memory enhancer, and I was feeling the emotion...

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Tuesday, 10 July 2007

It's that TSV time again...

Talking about TSV 48 in general, I have nothing to add that Alden hasn't already covered, so just go read his post. Also, Paul has his usual insightful comments, so check that out too.

But I do have something in this issue, namely a review of the TV movie. It's the second review, although I recall that Paul said I was the first to get a review in. (Graham's was a lot better to kick things off with, though.) My review is fairly generic, given the others in there, only one or two unique things, but given the 90 minute episode, it would be surprising if I didn't find something different to say about it.

Ah, but this brings back the memories of getting the movie and... but that's a tale for another blog entry...

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Monday, 9 July 2007

SNS: Perfect Day

The second to last audio of season two: Perfect Day by Steve Lyons.

SAPPHIRE: Steel and I worked together for a long time, Gold. Our methods may be different, but we understand each other.
GOLD: (Carefully) Yes. Yes, I'm sure you do.

Steve Lyons was "inspired" by Adventure 3 (that one set in the apartment with the family from the future) to write a story that is about the future. Thus, we have an adventure set during a wedding, in which the future the participants face make them prefer to live the same day, over and over and over...

There are some resonances with Adventure 3. The obvious one being that the future is the main story focus, and the part with Gold reminds one of when Sapphire was in the other apartment, but aside from that, this one is completely different.

For starters, this story is more soap opera, focusing on a group of people so wrapped up in their petty problems that they would prefer to forgo the uncertainly bad future for the lesser continual "perfect day". This makes the story reliant on the audience like the passengers, and thinking they were right. In reality, the passengers just come across as whiners and when Steel makes the point that he should leave them to their fate, one readily agrees with him.

That isn't the only problem with the story. The perfect day was been running for around 2,500 iterations, and every day, presumedly, they have the wedding? What? Really?? Why??? That's just insane! Surely they could have come up with something else to do? (Lydia and Steel suggest the repeat is just for Sapphire and Steel's benefit, but that doesn't explain that first time when they arrive.)

The cast perform their parts well, Victoria Carling especially giving proper weight to Lydia's role. Caroline Morris takes a break from Erimem to portray Jen, and Mark Gatiss reprises his role of Gold from The Passenger.

Not a bad story, all up, but it's not going to win high praise either.

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Sunday, 8 July 2007

Live Maddy

Although Live Earth is disrupting my Jekyll watching, it's not all bad. Because Madonna is in it! (Indeed, she's already released a song that she'll be performing.) But it's not all plain sailing, as I have to say she's made some rather bizarre requests:

A source told Britain's Daily Star newspaper: "She has asked for 12 dozen boxes of strawberries, eight full-length mirrors, a skipping rope, Yorkshire Tea, organic green tea and vanilla room spray."

The hell? What is she planning on doing with that? I know she likes to keep fit, but all those strawberries, and eight mirrors??? Weird.

Makes you wonder what she'll ask for if she does appear on the Simpsons...

(Foo's comments refer to Iggy Pop, linked added here 'cos Blogger doesn't automagically convert them to links.)

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Saturday, 7 July 2007

What they said...

It finally occurred to me to look around the web for what our two overseas fan guests said about the convention. Man, the web made them damn hard to find (well, more Angela than David).

Anyways, here are the links to David Cake (comments start May 30th), the FFANZ delegate from Australia, and Angela Rosin (blog dedicated to the trip), the GUFF delegate from England.

And just to pad out this entry, more pictures! (Click for larger versions.) The first is from page 15, the second has never been seen before!

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Friday, 6 July 2007

Steven Moffat's other side

Steven Moffat is known for his Doctor Who episodes (which have been much raved about) and his previous BBC series Coupling. Now he has eschewed comedy and science fiction for a dark tale about the evil side of man. A very dark tale.

Jekyll is a six-part series, where James Nesbitt plays the lead character that finds himself in a strange life, part his, part someone else's. Three episodes down, and we are still no closer to answers than when we started, but by gods this is great television!

Steven Moffat definitely knows what the hell he is doing. This is some damn gripping stuff, and excellently acted by the cast as well. Almost makes me want to get Coupling, as if that's half as good as this, that would be great watching too.

Unfortunately there's a break now for Live Earth, but I can hardly wait. Still, this gives another week for you lot to grab the episodes and catch up. It's well worth it.

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Thursday, 5 July 2007

Lonesome George likely to remain so

In the new series of Doctor Who, the Doctor is continually harping on about being the last of the Time Lords. But what about the last of a real species?

The Pinta Island tortoises have nearly gone extinct, what with human invasion of the Galapagos Islands with the subsequent changes in environment and, well, eating of tortoises. This has left just one remaining example of the species, known as Lonesome George.

In order for more of them to be around, not only does a female have to be found (no luck so far), but also George has to not act so Lonesome. "George has not been interested in reproducing in the past and may not know how, former keepers and others who have worked with him said."

And if that wasn't the best news, imagine reading about this in your job description: "[Sveva] Grigioni, now back in Switzerland, said she could normally get tortoises to ejaculate within minutes, but spent months manually stimulating George and never extracted semen from him."

The Galapagos have meant a lot to human history (they did provide the data Charles Darwin needed to form his ideas on evolution, but not immeditately, unlike certain Big Finish Audio would have you believe). And this is likely to be the last example of this particular variation evolution produces...

(Go on, buy a plush Lonesome George today! [Although, if you can get them to accept an NZ address, you're doing better than me!])

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Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Picture this!

Just when you thought there could be no more said about the convention, allow me to present a special feature. Peter Adamson, known for his activities on Zeus Blog, accepted the challenge to provide illustrations for the Conspiracy II conbook. This piece was meant for the cover, but due to that spot already being taken, it was used as an internal piece instead (p32).

(Note that I'll be posting more than one pic at a time, but this one deserves a spot on its own.)

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Monday, 2 July 2007

DW: Episode 3.13

Martha Jones, Earth Defender!

That was it! Episode number the last! (For this series, anyway.) A huge long extravaganza...up to about when the countdown ended. Really great stuff, Martha walking the Earth, coming up with the one way to defeat the Master, the Doctor at the end of his life, everyone else captured, yeah, that's tense... but then everyone says 'Doctor' and it's all over. Yea- huh?

Credit to RTD for jumping on a year. It's often too easy to get everything resolved the next day (especially in this version of the series, where you're lucky if the episode doesn't take place in real time!), but that, with the knowledge of the paradox machine, meant that certain conclusions to this episode were obvious. But I didn't see the deus ex telepathia coming.

The Master is dead? Yeah, that was never going to happen, although I had a different out in mind (he made the Doc think he was dead then regenerated later), but it looks like RTD is trying for a new spin on that as well. (Which does smell a little of being merely a change for sensationalism rather than for decent story reasons. But I'm willing to wait and see.)

But this is really Martha's episode (despite how much she gives to the Doctor), and when the end finally comes it's because she can move on when the Doctor can't. There's nothing to stop her coming back after the solo-Doctor Christmas episode, but that would undermine her decision to leave. (It could work, but would need a decent episode.) Having her come back for one episode would work better, but I have no idea what the production team have in mind.

It's an epic go at an episode, and didn't feature the Daleks. Still not convinced this is really the Master, but it did have to come down to him and the Doctor. Could have given the ending another go, though.

Next time: Looks interesting, but did we need the 'whats?' again?


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Now that's hideously expensive!

I buy plenty of DVDs, and, moreover, I like Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and buy DVDs of that. Currently, they are producing packs of four episodes per pack, and they have just released volume 11.

Obviously there are 10 volumes before that, and I now have them all. However, the last one I just got was slightly more than typical.

Volume 10 features the episodes of Godzilla vs Megalon, Swamp Diamonds, The Giant Spider Invasion and The Teen-Age Strangler. Great movies all (yeah, right).

However, that first one wasn't exactly allowed to be released, and Rhino (the distributors) had to pull the boxset because of the resultant rights issues. This immediately makes the items rare. And rare items are, of course, expensive.

The usual price of these sets are around $US35. I got mine through eBay, and paid around $US180! And the price is still going up! Now, that's incredible!

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Sunday, 1 July 2007

Wait for it...

Recently was the news that airport scanners would be using radio waves to examine people in a way that makes them...naked! (Take a look at the picture with the article to see all those naughty bits you know people will be gandering at.) And, yep, already there are cartoons about it. But, heck, I remember this from Airplane!

But what I'm waiting for is for the scam artists to pounce. Come on, radio waves are penetrating people...and this isn't too far from the rays that penetrate people and cause...CANCER!!!!

Yep, sooner or later, someone will be claiming they got cancer from an airport scanner. As this will probably occur first in America, this will lead to a lawsuit and a huge payout. Moreover, the person will win the case, especially if there is a jury, because of purely emotive reasons. Certainly not because the science will be paid attention to, because that will say this claim is ridiculous, but, hey, what does science know? They don't have CANCER!!!!

Frankly, if this was a more popular blog I'd post an article proclaiming just such a cause and effect and see how long it takes to end up on Snopes. Setting up fake articles, stating that they are fake, has been done before, and been sent around believing they are real. People like to believe all sorts of things. Airport scanners causing CANCER!!!! is inevitable.

Gentlemen, start your quack watches...

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