Serious stuff

Diagram of death

Despite the way we all sort-of live in the future (except we don't drive spaceships yet as a matter of course for some reason) science hasn't solved the inevitability of death yet - but we don't all die of the same thing.

In case you wanted to check out the likely possibilities of what you and your friends will die of then the US National Safety Council has produced a diagram and accompanying numeral-filled table of a selection of relatively common ones. The diagram is a bunch of circles whose area presumably reflects the relative odds of expiring via that method. Of course the information is only especially relevant if you're Mr or Mrs Average American citizen born in 2003, but the Poorhouse was interested to see it nonetheless.

Rapid fire lying

Speed-daters and their ilk beware. Humans are compulsive liars when meeting each other, especially if they don't know each other at first. Furthermore, contrary to possible intuition both men and women are no strangers to the falsehood spreading, seemingly lying fairly comparably in frequency. The difference is men lie more about how amazing they are, what they've done and so on whereas women do it to make other people feel better, bless them. It may be true that a woman has never answered "Does my bum look big in this?" with the killer phrase "Yes".

And how do we know this? Well, from Feldman et al.'s study "Self-Presentation and Verbal Deception: Do Self-Presenters Lie More?" amongst other sources, such as MTV reality shows no doubt.

Ask a silly question

YouGov is a market research company who conducts surveys via the Internet. You may well have seen results from them published in newspapers and other media outlets. They have a pool of respondents who have signed up with them to give their opinions...and earn money and prizes. You'll not get rich quick; whilst the Poorhouse has made a bit of £50 from them, this has been over the period of 5 years or so. But if you don't mind answer a few questions for 50p now and then you might as well sign up *.

Most of the surveys are on proper serious subjects. Solid stuff. Plenty of politically-charged things (opinions on politicians, road tax and the like) or the reasonably regular, if rather tedious, Brandindex survey about what you think of various products. But no need to panic if you prefer a Heat to a (broads)heet (haha). With that in mind, the Poorhouse was - slightly irrationally - amused to receive the following questions.

Mystery men

Fourteen years ago or so, the New Yorker published a mini-cartoon with the tagline "On the Internet nobody know you're a dog". It is of course just as true today more often than not, and potentially greatly exacerbated in practical terms with the rise of all the chat, Instant Messaging and social networking type sites. Sure, most people are no doubt not too far away from who and what they say they are, but there is still going to be a bunch of people who make up their own new identities for the online world. Fine, if it's harmless japery, very much less so if its not.

Most notorious from the media are "chat rooms"; locations on the Internet where you can go type stuff, send pictures and so forth live. MSN Messenger and the like have that sort of facility, both one-to-one and in a more communal manner. But imagine people acted up this way in real life instead of a chat room. Funny? Weird? Disturbing? Well, watch the below short video scripted by Geoff Haley of American Beauty and Six Feet Under fame and see what you reckon.

Chop off your brain...mind reading computers are here

It was already kind of scary, but potentially very useful, back in the good old days when computers could merely be controlled by the power of your mind. Mr Nagle, having been paralysed below the shoulders by a stabbing spent four days learning to play pong, do his email and draw pretty pictures using the power of his mind via a painless brain implant. To do this, he plugged his brain into a computer and imagined moving his arm to hit targets. The sensor read the associated electric brain signals and translated them into cursor movement.

He's not the only one. Four people elsewhere suffering epilepsy also managed to move a cursor by thinking about opening either their right or left hand. The technology is clearly progressing. In fact it recently got so far that not only could you control a computer via the mind, but the computer could look into the depths of your mind and read your future intentions. Yep, a mind-reading computer is now apparently reality.

Guess the country

Under its corrupt government, which is widely believed to sell seats in the upper house of parliament in return for contributions to ruling party funds, the once-free nation of Xxxx is rapidly turning into a police state.

Pre-trial detention, once limited to 72 hours, is being repeatedly extended to far longer periods. Old rules about the accused being innocent until proved guilty are being cast aside. The right to silence has been abolished and so has the law which prevented anyone being tried twice for the same offence. The police increasingly take action against individuals for expressing opinions which defy 'political correctness', the official orthodoxy of the Xxxx state.

Which country got this not entirely inaccurate diatribe against it a few days ago on the Mail on Sunday website?

UK government apparently not that bothered about the death penalty after all

The Poorhouse almost applauded Blair a few months ago in "daring" to come out against Saddam Hussein facing the death penalty, saying "We are against the death penalty, whether it's Saddam or anybody else". Yes, Hussein was an evil, evil tyrant who needed removing - if anyone should have faced the death penalty Hussein probably was it - but that doesn’t negate the dangerous wrongness of the death penalty in the first place. For a country who, via the Human Rights Act 1998, is party to the European Convention on Human Rights which forbids such a thing, it may seem normal that our leader should have something fairly condemnatory to say about it...but it sometimes seems there's nothing normal left in Blair-dom.

He of course largely negated his comments by not actually doing anything about the issue, the old "the Iraqis (sic) must decide" route, but nonetheless at least he said it. So when recently he got the chance to potentially walk the walk in a long movement towards global abolishment of the death penalty, what did he do? The Poorhouse is sad to report that he totally, 100%, undoubtedly poodled it.

Wii wee disaster

Poor JenniferPoor JenniferA fair section of the world, quite sensibly, quite wants a Nintendo Wii. Before Christmas especially, a whole lot of people did and moreover were prepared to go to quite some effort to get one. Jennifer Lea Strange certainly was.

Now, the Wii and its magic movement-sensing controller thingies are quite famous for causing all sorts of damage both to the person and their immediate environment. However this was probably the first time it, albeit indirectly, caused proper hardcore death.

Manly mammaries

Those of you who are avid internet users must always have known that there were plenty of sites out there for you lovers of that most useless of phenomena, man-boobs. However, to save you some googling through x billion pages with the word "boobs" on them, seems to be a fairly definitive source, to the point that the BBC has apparently approached them with a view to doing a documentary.

Onsite you can see a huge stack of images of more man boobs than you could need in one lifetime. Nonetheless, if you are lucky enough to have your own pair, they are more than happy for you to submit your prized man-melons for the world to see. Yay internet.

Is anything unnacceptable these days?

Results and analysis from the latest British Social Attitudes survey have just been published by the National Centre for Social Research. Each year, the BSA asks about 3300 random people for their thoughts on various topics, in order to see changes over time or pinpoint new matters of great interest.

This year, it seems the terrorists are winning.

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