Video: The Good-o-Meter

There are few things that simply explain the one thing Christians can all agree upon, and at the same time try to address how difficult the rest of the world makes it by refusing it even just consider the actual message instead of getting wrapped up in the side issues. YouTube to the rescue =P

Bah-dah-dah, doop-doop-doop!

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.

Debunking Forwards: Can’t Find A Job

Yes, I’m going through a backlog of forwards I never got around to reading. There are a few in particular that really bring up a few issues with me, so I figured I’d put in my two cents.

Joe Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock (MADE IN JAPAN ) for 6am. While his coffeepot ( MADE IN CHINA ) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor ( MADE IN HONG KONG ). He put on a dress shirt ( MADE IN SRI LANKA ), designer jeans ( MADE IN SINGAPORE ) and tennis shoes ( MADE IN KOREA ). After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (MADE IN INDIA ) he sat down with his calculator ( MADE IN MEXICO ) to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch ( MADE IN TAIWAN ) to the radio (MADE IN INDIA ) he got in his car ( MADE IN GERMANY ) filled it with GAS from Saudi Arabia and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN J OB At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day checking his C omputer (Made In Malaysia ), Joe decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals ( MADE IN BRAZIL ) poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN FRANCE ) and turned on his TV ( MADE IN INDONESIA ), and then wondered why he can’t find a good paying job in AMERICA.

The biggest wonder here is that Joe Smith cannot figure out that American business owners sold these products to him, and that it is Joe Smith’s fault that he cannot find a job. It is also perplexing that Joe Smith doesn’t have the depth of intelligence to discern that he could instead become a businessman himself instead of always relying on being employed by others. If you can’t find a job, MAKE A JOB YOURSELF, Joe Smith! Start your own business. It’s called the American Dream — a pursuit of happiness, not the American Sit And Complain About How Your Own Inaction Is Somehow Not Your Fault, or a wait until happiness happens to me and complain about it up until then even if it never comes around. Make a product in the USA, Joe Smith!

Random Images: Sod From the USA

I recently received a forward with an interesting story of military gentleman stationed away from the states who carefully tends a small plot of American soil that grows American grass. It sounds exactly like something I would do! heh

I hope the picture will go through for you – of this Army soldier in Iraq with his tiny ‘plot’ of grass in front of his tent.It’s heartwarming! Here is a soldier stationed in Iraq, stationed in a big sand box. He asked his wife to send him dirt (U.S. soil), fertilizer, and some grass seed so that he can have the sweet aroma, and feel the grass grow beneath his feet. When the men of the squadron have a mission that they are going on, they take turns walking through the grass and the American soil — to bring them good luck. If you notice, he is even cutting the grass with a pair of a scissors. Sometimes we are in such a hurry that we don’t stop and think about the little things that we take for granted.

Clever!

When trying to look up more information about the picture (with little success) I came across this article talking about a term called “Defiance Gardens” that this could very well be classified as. It’s a great idea.

Debunking Forwards: Jane Fonda 100 Greatest Women

Possibly titled, “She Really Was A Traitor”, this particular forward warns that Jane Fonda is about to be honored as one of the 100 Greatest Women. There are a number of major red flags that pop up that just shoot down the credibility of this supposedly truth-telling forward.

(a) She will not soon be given the honor. The 100 Greatest Women article was in 1999. It’s nearly a decade old already. Also, “great” does not implicitly imply a positive attribute. Great also means influential, making Hitler a great man (in the sense that he was very influential and was an incredibly powerful public speaker — this does not state that Hitler was a positive role model at all). The people who automatically believe a list of “great people” to always mean “people described as good” should not be sending out forwards.

(b) The forward describes that Vietnam POWs were brought forward from their frightening solitary cells of mistreated capture, before Jane Fonda and asked to tell about their supposed good treatment. Each man secretly slipped Jane Fonda, according to the forward, whereupon each had written their social security number. After shaking hands with each captive, Jane reportedly turned over each piece of paper to the commanding captor and beat each soldier for attempting to subvert the captors, according to the forward. However, this entire tale is false, according to Snopes.com. Each solider involved in the incident was interviewed, and each claimed that they had never met Jane Fonda, nor that they had any idea where the story had come from and why they had to keep repeating to the media the same explanation.

(c) The forwarding of this message is something that I believe is unbecoming of an individual employed or previously employed by the US Military. Possibly the greatest irony is that the forwarding of this email is tantamount to actually duplicating the crime Jane Fonda reportedly committed — spreading misleading propaganda — by failing to research many of the issues (including opinion to the contrary, not simply opinions in favor of one’s own) that the forward states and blindly sending the forward back out again based largely on an emotional response. To accuse Jane Fonda of a propagandist and traitor to soldiers, then immediately turning around and forwarding a false statement to fellow Americans decrying inaccurate and inflammatory statements about another American citizen, is to me the duplicate offense placing that soldier on the same level as the supposedly-errant Jane Fonda. Snopes notes that Fonda never did commit any particular act (such as divulging tactical secrets, etc.) that would be an act of treason other than simply exploiting the simple American right to freedom of speech, which each soldier is, in fact, fighting to defend.

Snopes article on Jane Fonda, and the original forward.

Debunking Forwards: Mail Server Report — Mostly Fake

This is yet another step in the clever concept of using Snopes itself as a basis for proof, but even still preys on the fact that (a) people are not going to click on the Snopes link to investigate, or (b) will click on the link and read that it is “real” but not read further down the page to learn the real story. The warning itself is as old as 2006, but the new Mail Server Report warning (sometimes titled WARNING WARNING WARNING) is as recent as March 2008.

The forward going around warns about an email titled Mail Server Report and, according to the forward, will delete everything on your computer if you open the attachments — not to mention pop up various messages. The messages come from a completely different virus hoax that is not even remotely connected, considering the real threat is actually a worm that does no genuine harm to infected computers.

Restated — there is actually a worm that is spread by the Mail Server Report title, but it does not do what the warning email states. It merely searches your machine for email addresses and sends a copy of itself to those addresses. That’s it. That’s what Snopes is actually saying. Had the forwarder (a) actually clicked the link, and (b) read the story ON the Snopes page instead of the one-word conclusion in red, the message you received would not have been sent out. Snopes itself bothers to quote the entire fake forwarded page further down, remarking about the mixup.