Prelude to Axanar

This is really cool! The video has been around since August last year, but I’ve only just discovered it as the creators, Axanar Productions, are having their asses sued by CBS and Paramount Studios despite the claim that no commercial gain will be made from the use of copyrighted material. I hope the big boys lose.

2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 57 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

What fun!

Merry Whatever

Good Reason: Chat with JW’s: Why the atonement is incoherent.

atonement 1

Source: Good Reason: Chat with JW’s: Why the atonement is incoherent.


Adobe’s Sleazy Customer Management

I started to use Adobe Photoshop a good few years ago and spent a good chunk of money on upgrades over the years. When Adobe changed to a subscription model, I decided that a monthly sub of a bit under 9 GBP for Photoshop and Lightroom was reasonable. However, for various reasons, I used the software less and less: in the last six months, I’ve done no image processing with Lightroom and opened Photoshop maybe twice.

Nine quid a month for nothing isn’t reasonable so I logged on to my Adobe account see about cancelling my sub. Here was revealed the first bit of sleazy behaviour: there is no way to cancel on the account management page. You have to contact Adobe by chat line or phone. Already I’m expecting some hassle. Anyway, I elected for chat line and after a short wait, Chinthana appeared.

I explained I wanted to cancel because I wasn’t getting any value as I wasn’t using the software. This lead to the second sleazy manoeuvre: I was offered next month free if I carried on with the subscription. At this point, I should point out that the Adobe CC subscription is an annual subscription payable monthly. No doubt, I knew this when I signed up, but had forgotten. Adobe doesn’t remind you very often. I get an invoice each month that includes the line:

“Your Creative Cloud membership will renew automatically each month until you cancel.”

It seems to me it’s reasonable to suppose that I could cancel anytime with a month’s notice. Chinthana explained that the small print doesn’t say this: it says you can cancel, but you have to pay 50% of the remaining annual subscription— 32.48 GBP in my case. By this time, I was pissed off and responded:

“I will pay this under protest. I think this policy is disgraceful for a customer who has paid the sub for at least two years.”

Time for sleazy tactic number 3: I was offered two free months to see out my subscription. The conversation continued:

Roger Cavanagh: No. How many times do I have to repeat myself? I want to cancel. I am getting no value for my money as I do not use the software anymore.
Chinthana: Okay. Are you okay with the cancellation fee?
Roger Cavanagh: No I am not OK with the cancellation fee, but no doubt, the small print says I have to pay it.
Roger Cavanagh: The monthly bill you send says: “Your Creative Cloud membership will renew automatically each month until you cancel.” It does not say, “and you will be charged to leave”.

At this point, Chinthana said he would check with his supervisor. After a little while, he came back on line and said his supervisor had agreed to waive the fee. Now I’m sure than Chinthana does have a supervisor, but I’m not all sure that he asked permission to waive the cancellation charge. It’s more likely that the workflow got to a point that tells the agent to give up and let the customer off.

So I got what I wanted: cancellation. Adobe got almost one month’s sub for nothing because my last payment was only a couple of days ago and I have already uninstalled the software. But I am left with a much-reduced opinion of the company.

An Illustrator’s Review of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

But to my mind, the iPad Pro deserves the Professional label – this is a serious piece of hardware for illustrators, and it’s been a long time coming. And if you buy it, buy the Pencil. Without it you’re not doing the iPad Pro justice.

Source: An Illustrator’s Review of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus

The goal is to minimize distorted thinking and see the world more accurately. You start by learning Glasses rose-tintedthe names of the dozen or so most common cognitive distortions … Each time you notice yourself falling prey to one of them, you name it, describe the facts of the situation, consider alternative interpretations, and then choose an interpretation of events more in line with those facts. Your emotions follow your new interpretation. In time, this process becomes automatic. When people improve their mental hygiene in this way—when they free themselves from the repetitive irrational thoughts that had previously filled so much of their consciousness—they become less depressed, anxious, and angry.

Common Cognitive Distortions

1. Mind reading. You assume that you know what people think without having sufficient evidence of their thoughts. “He thinks I’m a loser.”

2. Fortune-telling. You predict the future negatively: things will get worse, or there is danger ahead. “I’ll fail that exam,” or “I won’t get the job.”

3. Catastrophizing.You believe that what has happened or will happen will be so awful and unbearable that you won’t be able to stand it. “It would be terrible if I failed.”

4. Labeling. You assign global negative traits to yourself and others. “I’m undesirable,” or “He’s a rotten person.”

5. Discounting positives. You claim that the positive things you or others do are trivial. “That’s what wives are supposed to do—so it doesn’t count when she’s nice to me,” or “Those successes were easy, so they don’t matter.”

6. Negative filtering. You focus almost exclusively on the negatives and seldom notice the positives. “Look at all of the people who don’t like me.”

7. Overgeneralizing. You perceive a global pattern of negatives on the basis of a single incident. “This generally happens to me. I seem to fail at a lot of things.”

8. Dichotomous thinking. You view events or people in all-or-nothing terms. “I get rejected by everyone,” or “It was a complete waste of time.”

9. Blaming. You focus on the other person as the source of your negative feelings, and you refuse to take responsibility for changing yourself. “She’s to blame for the way I feel now,” or “My parents caused all my problems.”

10. What if? You keep asking a series of questions about “what if” something happens, and you fail to be satisfied with any of the answers. “Yeah, but what if I get anxious?,” or “What if I can’t catch my breath?”

11. Emotional reasoning. You let your feelings guide your interpretation of reality. “I feel depressed; therefore, my marriage is not working out.”

12. Inability to disconfirm. You reject any evidence or arguments that might contradict your negative Glassesthoughts. For example, when you have the thought I’m unlovable, you reject as irrelevant any evidence that people like you. Consequently, your thought cannot be refuted. “That’s not the real issue. There are deeper problems. There are other factors.”

Source: How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus – The Atlantic


I’m not going to do a full-blown review of my new iPad Pro, which I’ve christened Georgia (it’s just easier to keep track of the all the iPads and iPhones when they have proper names).

This is what I wrote in DayOne on the day that Georgia was delivered.

These are some impressions from using the iPad Pro for a week or so. The Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil arrived yesterday, so I’ll gradually expand this post before I publish it.

Georgia is no lightweight. You can hold the iPad Pro with one hand, but I wouldn’t want to for any length of time. But I was surprised how quickly I got used to the size. The first evening I sat on the sofa playing with Georgia, installing apps, organising folders and just generally trying different things out. After a few hours, I put Georgia aside and picked up Nikki to take her to bed. Nikki—my iPad Air 2—seemed tiny. [Read more…]

Seven Satanic Precepts Beat Ten Commandments As Moral Guide

The Satanic Temple, which is based in Massachusetts but has approximately 20 chapters across the U.S., lists their seven fundamental tenets as the following:

  • One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.

  • The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.

  • One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.

  • The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.

  • Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.

  • Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Source: Seven Satanic Precepts Beat Ten Commandments As Moral Guide |

Hard to disagree.

Stated Clearly

I came across the Stated Clearly website from browsing Kickstarter. (I’ve backed a few projects this year, but I’m still waiting for the first benefits to arrive). Stated Clearly’s mission is:

To promote the art of critical thinking by exposing people from all walks of life, to the simple beauty of science. We do this by taking complicated scientific topics such as “What is DNA and how does it work” and creating short, information rich animations that explain the topic in clear language.

They are doing this by producing videos (and some articles) that explain topics, so far mostly relating to evolution lasting about 8 or 9 minutes—some are a bit shorter, others a bit longer. Obviously, in this length of time, the treatment of any topic is hardly exhaustive, but the ones that I’ve watched so far have given a very understandable overview. I definitely learned something from the ones I have watched so far: I now know what the Miller-Urey experiment is for one.