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ljbrs
2002-Apr-19, 12:51 AM
The following is a letter I wrote to Neil Strauss about an article in today's (April 18) New York Times (Section B2):

The New York Times Company
229 West 43rd Street
New York City, NY 10036-3959

Attention: Neil Strauss

Re: The Pop Life
When Speech Does a 180

Dear Mr. Strauss:

In your column, The Pop Life, When Speech Does a 180, you wrote:


Based on his own analysis, David John Oates believes that George W. Bush has been a powerful, consistent leader. "He is strong and resolute," Mr. Oates said, speaking by telephone from his home in Australia. "His reversals were very forceful. There was no internal wavering inside himself."


Wait a minute. Reversals? Internal wavering? What exactly does Mr. Oates mean? To understand, let's begin with the popular factoid that flushing toilets swirl backward in Australia.


Let us stop right there.

Being in Australia (or anywhere else) has nothing at all to do with the direction in which toilets flush or bathtubs drain. The Coriolis Effect works only in large bodies of water, such as oceans, counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. The direction in which toilets flush has everything to do with the way the toilet is constructed. A toilet is made to swirl the water in one direction or the other, regardless of the hemisphere in which the toilet is constructed or the hemisphere in which the toilet is located. In addition, the way bathtubs drain has nothing to do with the hemisphere in which the bathtub is located. Bathtubs can drain in either a clockwise or a counterclockwise direction, independent of the hemisphere in which they are located A bathtub can drain either way, in either hemisphere, at any time. That old story about bathtubs draining and toilets flushing is simply baloney and you should refrain from misinforming the public. Using the word 'factoid' will not excuse you.

There is a nice book written by a professional astronomer where you can find out all about this in PART I, Chapter 2, Flushed with Embarrassment: The Coriolis Effect and Your Bathroom. For your further enjoyment, there are included in this wonderful book many other silly ideas which people have which are unscientific in their origin:

BAD ASTRONOMY
By Philip Plait, Ph.D.
Sonoma State University in California
Creator of http://www.badastronomy.com

Please no more corny jokes. My sides can take only so much at one sitting. My stomach begins to churn. I wonder if the Coriolis Effect could be the cause...

[I then signed my name.]

ljbrs /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif

ljbrs
2002-Apr-19, 01:05 AM
Bad Astronomer Phil Plait (Ph.D.)

I could not resist responding to that article. I made certain that my writing in answer to that silly article would itself be taken humorously. If you want to read the entire article, you will need to look in today's (April 18, 2002) New York Times (B2) for the article. Your university should have a copy in its library. I simply HAD to list your book and your name. Perhaps Neil Strauss will buy a copy for himself in order to have a good reference for any of his future articles. I am certain that he realizes that he must give credit where credit is due (to you, of course).

==========

Now, for all of you folks who have yet to buy the book, do so now. Libraries are known for their slow pace in putting new books on their shelves. I do not want to give a copy to the library because people who want to read it NOW should buy THEIR OWN PERSONAL COPY NOW.

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Wiley
2002-Apr-19, 02:06 PM
For those of us too lazy to go to the library, the article (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/18/arts/music/18POPL.html) is online. Although it appears this guy has a lot more bad science goin' on than just the Coriolis effect.

Good catch, ljbrs.

David Hall
2002-Apr-19, 02:17 PM
On 2002-04-19 10:06, Wiley wrote:
For those of us too lazy to go to the library, the article (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/18/arts/music/18POPL.html) is online. Although it appears this guy has a lot more bad science goin' on than just the Coriolis effect.

Good catch, ljbrs.


Oh no! He's onto me!! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=947&forum=3&start=9

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Apr-19, 02:54 PM
On 2002-04-19 10:06, Wiley wrote:
For those of us too lazy to go to the library, the article (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/18/arts/music/18POPL.html) is online. Although it appears this guy has a lot more bad science goin' on than just the Coriolis effect.

Back masking with a vengence. Seriously though, I think if Neil Strauss had actually believed that toilets change direction in the southern hemisphere, he would have called it a fact, instead of a popular factoid.

For those of you who haven't registered at the New York Times website, the article discusses a guy who dropped his tape player into a toilet, and it started playing tapes backwards. He detects unintended (but important!) meaning in public speaker's words played backwards.

ToSeek
2002-Apr-19, 07:16 PM
On 2002-04-19 10:54, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
For those of you who haven't registered at the New York Times website, the article discusses a guy who dropped his tape player into a toilet, and it started playing tapes backwards. He detects unintended (but important!) meaning in public speaker's words played backwards.


Hoaxland was really into Reverse Speech for a while there, playing Goldin's speeches backwards and looking for significant phrases, but he seems to have quietly dropped that, um, avenue of research. Now if he would just give up on the "Masonic alignments"....

Mr. X
2002-Apr-19, 08:55 PM
Well he used the word "factoid". It absolves him to me.



Main Entry: fac·toid
Pronunciation: 'fak-"toid
Function: noun
Date: 1973
1 : an invented fact believed to be true because of its appearance in print
2 : a brief and usually trivial news item


It's called covering your arse when you're not sure if what you're saying is accurate. Hence nobody can claim he said anything "wrong" under the circumstances. The end.

Aside from that ljbrs, I don't mean to start a flamewar but to me this appears like "nitpicking" in the sense it sounds "to me" like a "HE CALLED IT A FACTOID SO MAYBE IT MEANS THAT MAYBE HE DOESN'T KNOW THE REAL FACT SO HOW CAN A MAN LIKE THAT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT [subject he was writing about here]". To me it looks like this: http://www.winternet.com/~mikelr/flame59.html

And the misinforming the public remark is gratuitous, entirely. It's not because he makes something that COULD POSSIBLY be a mistake that he's entirely in the business of disinformation.

Sounds like a pretty big leap. It just seems to me you wanted people's opinion or else you wouldn't have posted it here. Plus I generally believe in the fact that mail should be PRIVATE so... so to me this looks like a vendetta, trying to jump on the very first thing the guy does very very very partly wrong (or possibly not wrong at all) about something that's personal, or the fact that you just don't like the guy.

And what if he just answers "Sorry, I recognize my error and I should have informed myself better, I will next time"?

Revenge is a dish best served cold. (If that was your point, seems to me like it is)

Besides if the whole article was on a "joke-tone" (I have no read it, but from what I hear it is) this letter is simply out of place.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Mr. X on 2002-04-19 16:58 ]</font>

ljbrs
2002-Apr-20, 08:16 PM
Well he used the word "factoid". It absolves him to me.

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Main Entry: fac·toid
Pronunciation: 'fak-"toid
Function: noun
Date: 1973
1 : an invented fact believed to be true because of its appearance in print
2 : a brief and usually trivial news item


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



It's called covering your arse when you're not sure if what you're saying is accurate. Hence nobody can claim he said anything "wrong" under the circumstances. The end.

Aside from that ljbrs, I don't mean to start a flamewar but to me this appears like "nitpicking" in the sense it sounds "to me" like a "HE CALLED IT A FACTOID SO MAYBE IT MEANS THAT MAYBE HE DOESN'T KNOW THE REAL FACT SO HOW CAN A MAN LIKE THAT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT [subject he was writing about here]". To me it looks like this: http://www.winternet.com/~mikelr/flame59.html

And the misinforming the public remark is gratuitous, entirely. It's not because he makes something that COULD POSSIBLY be a mistake that he's entirely in the business of disinformation.

Sounds like a pretty big leap. It just seems to me you wanted people's opinion or else you wouldn't have posted it here. Plus I generally believe in the fact that mail should be PRIVATE so... so to me this looks like a vendetta, trying to jump on the very first thing the guy does very very very partly wrong (or possibly not wrong at all) about something that's personal, or the fact that you just don't like the guy.

And what if he just answers "Sorry, I recognize my error and I should have informed myself better, I will next time"?

Revenge is a dish best served cold. (If that was your point, seems to me like it is)

Besides if the whole article was on a "joke-tone" (I have no read it, but from what I hear it is) this letter is simply out of place.



Mr. X:

(1) I wrote the letter to Neil Strauss (personally, and not to THE NEW YORK TIMES), in order that he might become aware of BAD ASTRONOMY, a wonderful new book (by Bad Astronomer Phil Plait). There, Neil Strauss could find many, many answers to Bad Astronomy questions for researching his future columns. The Coriolis Effect was one of the first topics covered in BAD ASTRONOMY.

(2) I printed my letter here so that Bad Astronomer Phil Plait would know that I had suggested his book to Neil Strauss of the New York Times.

(3) I suggest BAD ASTRONOMY to all of my astronomy and physics friends. I do not plan to stop.

(4) Factoid? It is a bit of a slang term used in some, but not all, dictionaries.

(5) Flame wars? I am not a moth.

(6) Nitpicking is so much fun that I never, ever tire of it...

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ljbrs
2002-Apr-22, 12:26 AM
For those of us too lazy to go to the library, the article is online. Although it appears this guy has a lot more bad science goin' on than just the Coriolis effect.

Good catch, ljbrs.


Thanks, Wiley

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