Debunking Forwards: Iraq “Did You Know” Stats

There’s an email forward that’s been circulating since at least 2003 that lists loads of statistical data about various accomplishments in Iraq now that Coalition forces have been present. I doubted that I could find verifications for all of the individual stats listed, and Snopes doesn’t bother to go that far either. One post I found links the Department of Defense as a reference point, being that they, “are verifiable on the Department of Defense web site,” but by clicking the link you’re only sent to the main front page to look them all up seperately by yourself.

CommonDreams.org notes, “The stuff is written simply and factually, but in that bullying tone of self-evidence that omits the relevance of evidence — context, proof, explanation, perspective.

What I’ve found overall is that, while these stats generally speak toward the goodness of things that have occurred there, the media generally does not report these kinds of things so openly because they would have to verify each individual figure — but Betty and Barney J. Hillbilly don’t bother with actually looking something up (ya dern tootin’!) so they feel free to just send out anything that sounds smart and resembles positive thinking. While many of them certainly could be true, actually visiting the locations of each one to verify that a school is actually running is nothing short of wholly implausible — considering what Americans think of a school is not the same thing as a school in Iraq, and may consist of only a handful of students taught by one teacher in a single-room, tin-and-wood structure that to Americans might suspect more resembled a tool shed.

The media is generally after (despite your views on its liberality, etc) the truth as far as, information that can be personally verified. Credible sources generally do not pass along information in the form of, “Well Frankie Sue from two houses past the water tower said that our troops have set up twelve thousand triage tents. I dunno what them is, but it sure sounds swell, gee willikers,” that these emails more often tend to convey, perhaps inadvertently.

A legitimate argument in favor of these details would include precisely what source each fact came from. Instead, we’ve essentially been handed a list of genus species notations and suggested that we could just go ask a biology teacher to verify whether those organisms actually do exist or not — but in this case aren’t even told which teacher to ask as if, heavens forbid, we actually go checking out the story and not taking your word for it because you’re my grandpa or my cow-orker [sp] from the next cubicle over who keeps putting salt in the sugar tin.

Dolphins Blowing Bubble Rings

While we’re on the subject of things I’ve never heard of before, I’ll go ahead and tack on this video about dolphins swimming around in an aquarium blowing rings of air bubbles in the water and either sailing thru them, clipping one side and making a secondary ring and following it around, or whipping it somehow and making the ring twirl around. Dolphins are way more intelligent than I thought!

I, for one, welcome our new dolphin overlords. Watch them go!

Timewaster Game: Music Bounce

I got to level 9 before I had to give up. The levels go pretty quick, and it’s pretty easy to figure out without reading all of the rules. It’s Music Bounce, something loosely similar to Arkanoid, but patterned around music.

You open little gateways on the left that release a ball onto the playing field. If you open up the right gate, a ball will bounce along and clear away all of the tiles it happens to bump into, which form the beat of a rhythm. You’re only allowed a certain number of gates to open at a time, and you’ve got to clear away all of the musical tiles for at least one moment (because they regenerate). It’s easier than I’m making it out to be, so check it out. And see if you can get past level 9 ^_^

Awesome job ideas: “Shipbreakers”

I’d never heard of the idea, but I admit it sounds pretty darn spiffy. There’s a company in Brownsville, Texas, that takes old sea-going ships and takes them apart for the metal scrap. This picture shows a battleship being gradually torn apart, courtesy International Shipbreaking Ltd in Brownsville. Apparently there’s another shipbreaking firm in Viriginia, according to the same page.

You can view the ISL company video here in that nasty RealPlayer format, or download the HQ version (82mb mpeg) here (save as, linked from the same page).

The article I read in our local paper (Associated Press article, found here) reports the feds used to pay the scrap stripping companies like this to dismantle the giant ships, but lately with the soaring prices of scrap metal, the companies themselves are in a sense buying the massive structures just for the chance to get after it. Someone needs to make a full season of documentary footage on this whole process and put it on DVD.. I’d grab it quick.

More pictures..
USS Mississinewa
USS Neosho
Random Artsy Scrapping Shots

Diorama Dismantling Frustrates Students

Looking back over my backlog of newspapers I should have been reading, there’s an interesting blurb about a Civil War battle diorama that was dismantled after only a short while, which took years for a bunch of school students to set up. Since the article didn’t contain a picture, I figured I’d try the web to see if there was any good shots of it.

Here is a Star-Telegram version of the article, and there is the location of the museum that took it down. There‘s a picture of the dude who was responsible for dismantling it, but no pictures that I can find.

I sent an email to the director of the museum asking if he knows of any photo galleries of the diorama, so we’ll see what happens.