James Randi and Project Alpha

Project Alpha was a famous hoax orchestrated by famous magician and skeptic James Randi. It involved the “planting” of two fake psychics, Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards, into a paranormal research project who became convinced the pair’s psychic powers were real. The hoax was later revealed publically, leading to a backlash against the entire paranormal field. This is an interview with the men involved.

Wikipedia has a great entry on Project Alpha:

Project Alpha was a hoax orchestrated by magician and skeptic James Randi. It involved planting two fake psychics, Steve Shaw and Michael Edwards, into a paranormal research project. The researchers became convinced that the pair’s psychic powers were real. The hoax was later revealed publicly, leading to a backlash against the entire paranormal field.

Including my favorite part:

Part of Randi’s instructions to these men was to tell the truth if they were ever asked if they were faking the results. They were never asked.

Top 100 Fundies Say The Darndest Things Quotes!

They’re always updating this list so it’s fun to drop in and see what’s new every so often. My favorite is still this gem:

“One of the most basic laws in the universe is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This states that as time goes by, entropy in an environment will increase. Evolution argues differently against a law that is accepted EVERYWHERE BY EVERYONE. Evolution says that we started out simple, and over time became more complex. That just isn’t possible: UNLESS there is a giant outside source of energy supplying the Earth with huge amounts of energy. If there were such a source, scientists would certainly know about it.

The Sabbath Elevator

From the Baltimore Sun:

The vote from the Strathmore Tower condominium board was simple: Down with the Sabbath elevator.

But what some thought was a straightforward vote has erupted into a religious and racially tinged controversy to others in this majority senior citizen-occupied condominium complex in Upper Park Heights.

The supporters – most of whom are Jewish – say the option for a Sabbath elevator wouldn’t have cost extra money and would have aided Orthodox Jewish and disabled residents while helping resale prices. Foes say such an elevator is inconvenient and could cost more.

Sabbath elevators are normal elevators that can be set to automatically stop at every floor. That helps observant Orthodox Jews who aren’t permitted to operate electrical switches during the Sabbath period, or Shabbat, which runs from sunset Friday to nightfall Saturday.

Some Jewish residents say the vote in February by the nine-member board – 5-3, with one absent – to strike a Sabbath elevator out of a contract to renovate the building’s two elevators smacks of religious discrimination.

“I hate to say it, but reverse discrimination is what it is,” said Haron Goodman, 74, a Jewish board member and 10-year Strathmore resident, heads nodding around him as he sits with other residents in his apartment on a recent morning. “It’s absolutely anti-Semitism.”

The Greatest Long Tracking Shots in Cinema

Daily Film Dose takes a look at The Long Shot:

In a director’s cinematic bag of tricks the long tracking shot is the boldest way of making a statement. It’s the flashiest and most attention-grabbing egotistical way of flexing one’s muscle. In most cases it’s a narcissistic maneuver, “look-at-me” filming technique, but rare ones, the best ones, serve to reflect and further the story in a way that can’t be reflected with traditional editing.

Let’s examine specifically the long ‘tracking’ take which involves extensive and complicated movements of the camera. The fact is filmmakers have been doing long takes since the medium was invented. In fact the first films didn’t have any edits. Perhaps the first most notable film to use long unedited takes for storytelling purposes was Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” (1948) which was an entire film shot in real time created by seamless cutting together a series of long 8-10 mins shots made to look like one. In 1948 it was a bold and unprecedented experiment for Hitchcock. The film works because its takes place entirely in one room for 80 minutes, so there was limited movement and lighting changes.

(via Metafilter)

The Top 15 Han Solo Quotes You Need to Use in Regular Conversation

Terrific list. Here’s one of them:

14. “Had a slight weapons malfunction, but everything’s perfectly alright now. We’re fine, we’re all fine, here, now, thank you. How are you?”

When to say it: When your cell phone signal begins to break up

Granted, this is a Star Wars quote which will almost immediately get recognized as a Star Wars quote — hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a real life situation where you have to use the term “weapons malfunction.” Still, though, if you’ve got to go through the typically banal “wait, you’re breaking up – can you hear me?” conversation with a friend over your phone, why not throw in a Han Solo quote for good measure? Pretty much everything Harrison Ford says in the series is gold – in everyday life, one should always be searching for methods, no matter how forced, to speak the words of Han Solo.