Editing websites for fun and profit

If you’ve been following the Labour leadership contest, you might have noticed this parody of Tony Blair’s Comment Is Free piece doing the rounds:

Blair Hague

You may think it’s photoshopped, but it’s very simple to make something like this, and I’m going to show you how to do it! Start by opening up Google Chrome (you can do this in other browsers but I find Chrome to be the easiest), then go to any site you choose. Find the text you want to change, then right click it and select “Inspect element”.

Step 1

When you click “Inspect element”, you will see some code at the bottom of the screen. Don’t be scared, it’s just HTML, the language patented by Sir Tim Berners of Lee back in 1662. With any luck, the text you want to change will be right in front of you, so just change it and you’re done!

Step 2

Once you know this simple trick, you can have all sorts of fun messing around with all kinds of sites! Have fun!

blair

homeopathy

Sally Morgan

Health Ranger

By the way, I didn’t do anything to that last one, it’s a real post on Natural News.

 

Playing Deepak Chopra’s “Leela” on Wii

Now, I’ve had an interest in the work of one Deepak Chopra for some time now, having invented wisdomofchopra.com, a site that generates quotes in his own almost-inimitable style. So, imagine my sarcastic joy when my brother Ed presented me with a copy of Leela, Deepak’s very own Wii game! I had to try it out, so take a look at the video below:

The game is just a series of minigames, each one based on a “chakra”. As you can probably guess, it was filmed on my phone so the quality isn’t great and you can barely hear the game, but you get the gist of it. Also, we ran out of both recording time and battery life so we may never know what the final chakra minigame is like!

I wasn’t expecting much from it, but apart from being based on the evidence-free “chakra” explanation of how the body works, it’s surprisingly low on bullshit. I didn’t even hear an utterance of the word “quantum”! I can’t say I’d recommend going out of your way to get the game, but the navel chakra game is good fun. Cheers again to Ed for the game!

A huge thank you!

Well, I successfully completed my flag challenge! I managed to name all 80 flags that were put before at the most recent Ignite Liverpool. Hopefully the video will be available soon if you need some proof!

Of course, it’s not too late to donate, so if you are suitably impressed with my efforts and would like to donate to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, you can do so at my Just Giving page.

I had set a target of £500, and thanks to your donations the total currently stands at over £800! It would be absolutely fantastic if that could go past £1,000. Thank you all so much!

 

Raising money for the Liverpool Women’s Hospital with the Ignite Flag Challenge!

As you may know, our daughter Rosalind was born 10 weeks early on March 11th 2015. Everyone at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital did an absolutely fantastic job and she is now safely home. The least I can do is try and raise some money for the hospital, so to donate to my “Ignite Liverpool Flag Challenge” please follow the link below!

Ignite Liverpool Flag Challenge

Update: thanks to everyone who has donated so far. As some have already noted, 20 falgs would be a bit too easy so it’s been upped to 80, so I’ve got to identify one flag every 3.75 seconds!

Allow me to explain: I’m a passionate amateur vexillologist. I run a campaign to find a new flag for Liverpool, I’ve given a talk about the flags of the former Soviet Union to the Flag Institute, and I’ve done several talks on flags for Ignite Liverpool. So, for my next Ignite “talk” I will be given 5 minutes to identify 2080 flags of the world, and I’m being sponsored for each one I get right! If you want proof that I’ve completed the challenge there will be a live stream of the event, a YouTube video, or of course if you are in Liverpool you could turn up to Leaf on July 15th 2015 and watch it live!

You will be able to donate at any time before, during, or after the event, so please visit the Just Giving page and donate what you can! Thanks!

I think Rosalind will thank you for it! :)

happy rosalind

Rosalind Florence Williamson

Wow, it’s been quite a fortnight in the Williamson household! For those that listen to the show, you’ll know that myself and Celia were expecting our first child, due on May 19th 2015. Well, after a routine checkup a couple of weeks ago, the doctors decided that our baby needed to be delivered early and Rosalind Florence Williamson was born the next day on March 11th 2015 and taken straight to the Special Care Baby Unit. So far she’s doing very well and Celia is absolutely fine! We visit her every day and we are incredibly grateful to all our friends and family who have supported us. Everyone at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital have been absolutely wonderful, and we are very lucky to live in a country with excellent socialised healthcare! Love the NHS.

In case you were wondering, Rosalind is named after Rosalind Franklin, a great scientist whose work was vital for the unraveling of the structure of DNA. Florence is the city where I proposed to Celia. Sorry if you are feeling a bit queasy right now!

Obviously my extra curricular projects such as the show and flagforliverpool.org will have to wait for now, but I am planning on dropping in to qedcon.org so see you there!

Oh alright then, one picture of Rosalind!

Rosalind's first facepalm

The Show is back!

After an unintentionally long 6 month hiatus, the Skeptic Canary Show is back!

The format has changed, so it is now a straightforward pre-recorded podcast. No longer an hour-long unedited chat, the show now has features, jingles, stings and even a competition! Search for ‘skeptic canary’ on iTunes or listen right here on skepticcanary.com.

Listen to episode 60, the first show with the new format!

Sally Morgan’s fans react to her apologising for her husband

It’s not been a good week for Sally Morgan, otherwise known as Britain’s best loved psychic. A video has emerged where skeptic campaigner Mark Tilbrook is confronted by Sally’s husband and tour manager John Morgan, and later her son-in-law and tour manager Daren. If you are going to watch the video below then brace yourself, it’s pretty nasty homophobic stuff:

In case you can’t (or just haven’t) watched the video, I’ve transcribed a few ‘highlights’.

0:52 JM: “I am gonna knock you out one day, because you are a nuisance.”

1:03 JM: “One day, you’re gonna be lifted, and you’ll disappear somewhere.”

1:33 JM: “But you’re a prat, and I’m losing my temper because I’m gonna knock you out sooner or later. So fuck off before I do you”

And then the homophobic stuff begins:

3:10 JM “You know, you look pale. Are you on drugs or has someone shagged you too much? One of your boyfriends been up your arse?”

3:42: JM (referring to skeptic meetings) They’re all gay. They’re all gay.”

Hopefully that gives you some idea of the contents of the video. Sally Morgan Enterprises has since apologised. Well, they have “apologised for any offence caused”, which of course isn’t the same thing. Some of her fans have their own ideas. I’ve been on the Sally Morgan Facebook page and tried to inform people of where they can not only watch the video, but also read the leaflets that Mark Tilbrook was attempting to hand out. Sadly, my comments (as well as pretty much any comments from other skeptics) have been deleted and I have been banned from the page. Only pro-Sally comments are tolerated there, and many go so far as to excuse John Morgan’s behaviour. Now, Sally Morgan’s Facebook page is public and the comments are there for all to see, but I believe in protecting people’s identities so I’ve blanked out names and faces. Here are a few samples:

01

03

05

07

02

That last one is an example where Mark’s cognitive faculties are called into question. Here are a few more:

09

10

08

As you might have noticed, the spelling and grammar on this page is not up to a particularly high standard (I doubt Mark Tilbrook came after Sally Morgan with a tub of margarine). Here’s a fan wishing Sally would resurrect her career as a TV pig farmer:

sows

At least all is not lost. One Sally fan is aware that she has been asked to take a test:
not lost

And to finish, here’s something that puts everything into perspective.

really sad

Does wisdomofchopra.com pass the Turing test?

wisdom of chopraSome time ago I created wisdomofchopra.com, a site that generates random Deepak Chopra-style quotes. In case you aren’t aware, Deepak Chopra is a new age guru famous for interspersing his sentences with the word “quantum”. I thought it would be fun to make a random phrase generator based on words from his Twitter feed, thus wisdomofchopra.com was born. The source code for the generator is available on GitHub.

One thing I get asked a lot (often jokingly, of course) via the Wisdom of Chopra Twitter account is “does the generator pass the Turing test?”, or in other words, are the quotes generated by Wisdom of Chopra indistinguishable from those of Deepak Chopra himself? Fortunately, I happen to have data that can answer this very question! If you look at the top menu bar on the wisdomofchopra.com site, you will see a link to a quiz. The premise of the quiz is very simple: you are presented with a quote, and you have to tell if it is either a randomly generated quote, or a genuine musing of Dr Chopra. I have stored (anonymously, don’t worry!) every answer, so I can see how many of the answers are right and wrong.

When I present the raw numbers you will reach a predictable yet somewhat disappointing conclusion, but first lets approach this scientifically. We have two hypotheses, the first being that the two sets of quotes (random and real) are distinguishable from each other. If this were the case, you would expect to see significantly more right quiz answers than wrong ones. The second hypothesis is that Wisdom of Chopra passes the Turing test, and therefore the two sets of quotes are indistinguishable to humans. If this hypothesis is correct, then the person undertaking the quiz would be forced to choose an answer randomly and the task becomes akin to flipping a coin, so the number of right and wrong answers would be statistically the same.

So, onto the big reveal! I can tell you that from June 22nd 2012 to the present day, there have been 73,999 correct quiz answers and 39,581 wrong ones. Now, just by glancing at those numbers you should be able to conclude that the ayes have it and the generator fails the Turing test, but if you wanted to, you could put them through a binomial test to make absolutely sure! Still, around 35% of the answers are wrong, so telling the quotes apart is far from a doddle!

So there you have it. Even though it would be great if it did, I’m afraid I have to report that wisdomofchopra.com does not pass the Turing test. Sorry!

Ep59 – Skeptic Ink Special – Skeptic Canary Show

Join us on the Skeptic Canary Show this Wednesday July 23rd when we will be talking with some of the writers at the Skeptic Ink network! They have recently contributed to a book entitled “13 Reasons to Doubt”, which you can buy here. As always, you can get your questions in to the show via Twitter and email (tom at skepticcanary.com). See you here Wednesday at 7!