The Sunday Sermon- Pete Holmes on Not Knowing (the glory of discovery)

This is a hilariously comedic critique of part of our modern condition. Enjoy and pass it on!

As always, thank you for reading and sharing my blog! I am an independent poet, author, and singer/songwriter and I have my own ebay business to keep me as flexible as possible. But, writing takes time and if you appreciate what I do, if you have been moved or made to think by my writing, OR have just enjoyed something on my blog, please throw a buck or two in my tip jar!:) Your kind contribution may buy me a cup of coffee out at my next writing session. Click my easy paypal “tip jar” link that follows and THANKS! -Luke

LAD online tip jar

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Thanks for Encouraging Scientific Literacy John Oliver

John Oliver Science

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Scientific Studies (HBO)- Screenshot- Used under Fair Use Act

Here’s the thing about science… for the most part, scientific progress is generally a slow process and boring to almost anyone who isn’t a scientist. That dynamic begs the following problem: With an Internet Culture that demands to be constantly wowed by new, provocative, stimulating, but not-too-intellectually demanding information, and click-bait news articles and blogs, how should media outlets, “news” sites, TV talk shows, and professional bloggers, all thirsty for advertising revenue via views present science and scientific studies? Well, for the most part, the answer is to propagate complete bullshit, hack interpretations of data, push non-peer-reviewed studies as proven facts,  or to re-package peer reviewed studies so that they fit nicely on the low shelf and can be married up with exciting buzz worthy titles.

Before moving forward, let me give you complete disclosure. I am not a scientist. I am a writer, poet, and ebay entrepreneur. But, I love science and highly esteem its value to humanity as an empirical method of discovery. Because of that, I cringe when the revelatory power of the Scientific Method and complex findings of scientific studies are wielded about by the unlearned in media like a toddler with a .357 revolver.

Too strong of an analogy? I think not. Maybe too weak. Toddlers with revolvers would only have six shots each to do damage with. A scientifically flawed online article or news story has the power to dangerously deceive millions. The thing is, the propagation of pseudo-scientific bullshit can and does kill people. That is particularly the case when people have an aversion to traditional, proven medical treatments for various cancers and other deadly afflictions and turn rather to the magical promises of unproven (and sometimes inherently dangerous) “natural” remedies. On the flip side, otherwise healthy people can be MADE ill via untested supplements and the like. Sure, a healthy and varied diet is to be lauded and applied in one’s life. Yet, when you need modern medicine and/or treatments backed by vetted scientific research to cure a particular malady, don’t presume that merely eating more of this or that and/or taking some crap the salesperson at your local supplement shop assures you is the miracle cure-all will fix your problems. You may well avoid traditional medicine, relying on “natural remedies” until the situation is too late to reverse. Do traditional treatments always work? Nope. But they have at least been tried and tested via trial, error, and peer-reviewed research. I’ll take that over some magic beans any day.

So, when I read or watch pseudo-science presented by news anchors, Internet article writers, and bloggers, I get a bit angry. I get angry when people are given false hope for their sicknesses by modern day snake oil salesmen. I get angry when energy is wasted in society filtering out the bullshit AND when people, even fairly well educated people, are fooled by said bullshit. Lastly, I get angry that our modern society is left intellectually weak by being allowed to hit baseballs off of the tee like children when we should be swinging at fast, difficult pitches like adults- metaphorically speaking. Though, I can’t blame only those who are selling snake oil. As a society, we are buying it time and time again.

Because of all that, I am thankful to the John Oliver Show people for their new related segment. Please, please, PLEASE, my fellow humans… let the scientists do their work. Give them time and funding to do it. Let the scientists re-test and peer-review the experiments and data. And, when their findings are a bit outside the realm of our own layman’s understanding, we should let the scientists explain it to the rest of us rather than the news anchors.

Please watch and enjoy the following video:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Scientific Studies (HBO)

I encourage you to seek to expand your own understanding of the Scientific Method and various areas of scientific exploration as a part of your own personal study and life-long learning. I assure you, having a finely tuned bullshit detector is a very handy thing in this world. You may also find some merit in this handy poster from a previous blog:

Keys to Sound Thinking Chart

“Keys to Sound Thinking” Poster by: Luke Austin Daugherty

 

 

Joke about How a Business Should Be Run in Indiana…

This is how a business should run in Indiana.

This is how a business should run in Indiana.

First as tragedy then as farce. The new “Religious Freedom” law has forced me into a comedy career in order to explain how a business, open to serve the public, should run in Indiana.

Mike Pence Signed the “Religious Freedom Bill

Governor Mike Pence RFRA Religious Freedom Bill

Governor Mike Pence RFRA Religious Freedom Bill

Mike Pence signing Freedom of Religion Bill

Mike Pence signing Freedom of Religion Bill

FINALLY all the people in this picture, who were up until now apparently persecuted in Indiana and deprived of religious freedom, in spite of the State Constitution and Bill of Rights of 1851, will be able to worship according to the dictates of their deeply held religious beliefs! Thanks, Darth Pence! You are the Moses of modern day Indiana, setting the captives free from bondage! (in a private ceremony paid for by public dollars) YAY!

Adventures in Picking- I Witness an Epic Battle of Wills at Goodwill- Old Man vs Lady

Besides being a writer and singer-songwriter, I operate three ebay stores to pay the bills and allow for a free-spirited life. I pick things to resell on my ebay stores at all kinds of places, including the Goodwill Outlet Store.

Since you just grab stuff out of the bins at that store, there are lots of people, and new bins are rolled out regularly, it is a recipe for frequent drama between shoppers. I was able to capture a fairly mild example here…

When the new bins were just rolled out, this lady and old man snatched for the same Carhartt coat like ninjas and an epic battle of wills ensued. But, the old man won… I have seen way crazier fights than this at the Goodwill, even to the point that management called the cops.

This is just a reminder to keep it classy when shopping, especially with the approach of “Black Friday” next week 🙂

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Obama and U.S. Drone Policy

As usual, the “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” team is on point. I don’t have much to add to what John Oliver covered other than a hearty, “Amen!”

The Last Internet Challenge You Will Ever Need

Fire Challenge Gone Wrong

Fire Challenge Gone Wrong

From the tame “Chubby Bunny” challenge to the uber-dangerous new “Fire Challenge,” social networking sites are teeming with “Internet Challenges.” What is an “Internet Challenge” you may ask? Well, it is basically just a dare, but instead of being done for a payoff of street cred with real friends you know personally, it is for internet cred with complete strangers. You are supposed to accept the challenge, video yourself doing it, and then post the video online.

I remember dares when I was a little kid… A buddy daring me to talk to the girl I had a crush on or jumping a really high and sketchy ramp assembled by friends at the trailer park on my BMX bike. Hell, sometimes we’d even jump over each other.  There were regular dares, “double-dog” dares, and so on. Yet, for the most part, I wasn’t into dares, dishing out peer pressure, or giving into it. I carried that trend even more so into adulthood. What I want to do, I do. What I don’t want to do, I don’t do. You won’t bully, manipulate, or peer pressure me into doing some shit I don’t want to do.

So, when I now behold the trendy spectacle that has become known as the “Internet Challenge,” I stand amazed at the nincompoopery of it all. The first one that I ever noticed a couple years ago on Youtube was the Cinnamon Challenge. There isn’t much to it. Basically, you just eat a huge spoonful of cinnamon and try to swallow it. The result? Hacking, watering eyes, a nose dripping with snot, and instant regret apparently. See the video link below for a compilation of people doing the challenge.

One reason I stopped doing dares at a pretty young age was, once you start, you just can’t stop. If you gain your fame among peers for doing dares, the dares will never cease. Not only that, but they tend to increase in ridiculousness (and danger) as they go. Such has been the case with the Internet Challenge phenomenon as well. The Cinnamon Challenge became The Ghost Pepper Challenge, The Flour Slap became The Knock Out Game, The Ice Bath Challenge became the Fire Challenge, so on and so on.

Let us park there just for a moment… “The Fire Challenge.” This challenge is a simple, yet staggeringly moronic one. Basically, you dump flammable liquid on yourself and then set it ablaze. Yes, you set yourself on fire. As much as I’d like to rename it the, “Darwin Award Challenge,” or, “The Proof That I’m Incredibly Stupid Challenge,” that would only serve to confuse such an obvious title for the challenge. There is really only one downside to doing this challenge. That is, you end up on fire. If that isn’t enough to dissuade you from doing such a challenge, likely, no other reason I can provide will.  See the following video for a good example of this nonsensical challenge. (language warning)

There have been many news stories done on these Fire Challenges gone wrong recently. In my opinion, since you end up on fire, they are all gone wrong. One of the most interesting things to me about many of these videos is, the participants seem really surprised the the fire is hot once lighting the flammable liquid. PEOPLE! It’s fire! Of course it is going to be hot! That is one of the primary reasons that you typically avoid catching on fire when it is under your power to do so. The sad thing is, this new challenge won’t be the last of them. Once the enamor and prestige of setting one’s self on fire has worn off, inventors of Internet Challenges (whoever they may be) will come up with something even more dangerous and stupid. I could presuppose some insane ideas, but I won’t for fear that someone would be crazy enough to try it.

That said, I would like to reveal the last Internet Challenge you will ever need to do, ironic though it may be. I call it, “The Ignoring Internet Challenges and Social Media Peer Pressure Forever Challenge.” This is how you do it… After committing to participate in my perpetual challenge, any time you see a new challenge pop up online, you totally ignore it. You say to yourself, “Self, this new challenge was probably invented by a moron with nothing worthwhile to do but come up with stupid challenges. I will not allow the foolish whims of a nameless stranger nor the potential praise of others on social media to manipulate me into doing something dumb.” That is it! So, please share my new, “The Ignoring Internet Challenges and Social Media Peer Pressure Forever Challenge,” and make the world a better, hopefully less nitwit filled place! If you would like to post a video of yourself doing my challenge, basically just record yourself doing anything but an Internet Challenge: eating cereal for breakfast, reading a book, watching TV, drawing a unicorn… whatever. 🙂 -Luke

 

A Prank Too Far- When Does a Prank Stop Being Funny?

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An interesting phenomenon has developed over the last several years via the reach of youtube- the rise of independent, “professional” pranksters. These are creative people who started out small, and due to their consistent and well-filmed prank videos, have reached a certain level of internet fame. For some, that fame and the ad revenue it produces even makes for a full time personal income allowing them more time to focus on their art of creating prank videos.

If you are into the prank videos on youtube, you may know some of the primary pranksters well. Many of their videos go so viral that even if you aren’t into watching the pranks, you will see the links posted on various social media sites. Other videos become so popular that they are referenced in major news stories nationally and internationally. A few of the “kings” of youtube prank channels are Jack Vale (the Pooter guy), edbassmaster, Roman Atwood, Vitaly at VitalyzdTV, Tom Mabe at MabeInAmerica, PrankvsPrank, The Scary Snowman, Dennis Roady, MagicofRahat, and others. Some of these pranksters have also learned the trick to being one of the “popular kids” as it were. That is, you team up and tell the populace that the other person is cool too. So, some popular pranksters often team-up to do videos and pranks together. It is brilliant cross marketing and pools their creative resources as well.

These viral pranks range greatly in their nature, style of execution, and subject matter. Some are just goofy “fart” pranks pulled off in public spots, stores, or elevators. See Jack Vale’s video’s for the best examples of these.

Others are also very simplistic in nature, but always have a great payoff, such as the Scary Snowman videos.

Hey, fake farts and people getting startled have always been and will always be funny. Video pranks will vary from those simple and relatively harmless versions all the way to some very potentially dangerous ones. Some pranksters have also made a real effort to use some of their pranks to benefit others or have done social experiments to raise awareness of some important issues. I applaud the noble efforts of such pranksters to use their art form in the service of helping others to whatever degree they can.

But, there are two other categories of prank videos that I would like to address. Actually, the two have some overlap. That is, pranks that can potentially (or likely) cause harm to the public and pranks that waste the resources of emergency or police services. I was inspired to address this issue after seeing several of those types of videos being discussed by people on Facebook in the last few weeks. It seems that there is a one-upmanship battle going on between the royalty of youtube pranksters. The nature of some of these pranks is getting more ridiculous and/or dangerous. Please know, I am not a “fuddy-duddy” that doesn’t get a kick out of a ton of the pranks I see. Yet, in day to day life, I am not a prankster myself. Since I don’t like being messed with personally, I don’t dish it out either. But, due to the rise of the “professional prankster” some of them think that saying, “IT’S JUST A PRANK!” after doing something crazy in public somehow puts them “on base” from any repercussions.

As a disclaimer and qualifier, I do not condone violence against another person merely over words or insult. I do support defending one’s self when you believe that you are in immediate danger, are being actively and physically intimidated, actually attacked, or are defending another person who is in one of those situations. I would assert that some of these pranksters are going too far and becoming reckless in a way that is dangerous to themselves and others with some recent pranks.

Since I have enjoyed watching youtube pranks for years, I have tried to hold back on being too judgmental on some “iffy” pranks that I have seen online. But, the first one I saw from a major prankster, in this case Roman Atwood, that I think definitely crossed the line is the one below:

The “Drive-by Shooting Prank” is just reckless, stupid, and dangerous. If you noticed, one person actually shot back at Atwood’s vehicle toward the end of the video. Atwood is lucky that the shooter was a poor shot and no one else had a car handy to chase his SUV down in to return real fire. Here are my main points of contention about that prank:
1. Going to a potentially high-crime neighborhood where people are already on edge and making random people think they are really being shot at is just negligent, unthinking, and lacks compassion. I would like Atwood or any other prankster who thinks such a prank is funny to consider what it would be like to walk out your front door, your small child in tow, to what you think is a real drive-by shooting pointed in your direction. Would that just be “ha-ha” funny? Would that just be all good after your and your child were terrified? I know there was not a small child apparent in the video, but I appeal to Atwood’s sensibilities (if he sees this blog) knowing his is a father.
2. The prankster his or herself could actually be injured.
3. The people who believe they are being shot at may assume that they know who is shooting at them: a neighboring gang, a person who they have had trouble with before, etc. and take revenge. Or, they may just go looking for a person who was driving the same kind of vehicle as the supposed shooter to get back at them. That is the type of thing that can happen in the real world.
4. Likely, police or emergency services are called because of such a situation. That wastes resources paid for by taxpayers at large for ridiculous reasons. It also can create a potential investigation that could falsely implicate an innocent person.

The recently posted video just below, “Killer Clown Scare Prank,” inspired a lengthy discussion on Facebook last week between quite a few people. (Graphic scenes)

That Killer Clown video is another example of a prank gone too far in my opinion. Many of the comments on Facebook had to do with the assertion that the person commenting would have reacted violently or shot the “clown.” Some of that may have been hyperbole, but I would say the majority of the people commenting were being literal. I myself live in a state, Indiana, which has a substantial amount of people who carry a concealed pistol, myself included. It would be reasonable in my opinion, especially in a city like Indianapolis with a crazy murder rate, to fire at a person who you believe is trying to attack you with a hammer, ax, knife, etc. It is inevitable that one of these pranksters engaging in highly irresponsible pranks will eventually be seriously hurt or killed. With so many real tweakers and violent people out there, as an individual on the street, you can’t just not act in a situation because there is a 1% chance you may be the target of a prank. Several pranksters have even been punched or slammed to the ground after doing a prank when they faked stealing a person’s property or said something highly offensive. Again, I don’t condone a violent reaction to words. But, you can’t expect to say crazy things to random people in public and not get hit eventually. Of course, it makes for great video and lots of “clicks,” so getting hit may be worth it to some pranksters. See the following for an example: (language warning)

Last, I would mention pranks that demean people. Even if done under the label of “helping” these pranks are in poor taste. Sure, people can do whatever they want for the most part and should be able to in making videos. But, I can also share my thoughts. In the following video, helping needy people is done in a way that is demeaning at the same time. If you’re going to give homeless folks money, do it in a way that doesn’t involve apparently blowing money out of your ass guys. Just because the homeless will take the money any way they can get it, does’t mean you should force them to grovel for money from your butt (of course, it isn’t really, but that isn’t the point)

In Atwood’s defense, he has fed the homeless and given money on several occasions in previous videos in much more tasteful ways (see the link below). And, he and his team have made tons of great prank videos as well. He is actually one of the best all-around pranksters online. Though, the push to get more and more sensational has to hit a wall at some point.

It is my hope that responsible pranking will continue. But, I implore youtube pranksters to mix in a bit of common sense and refrain from doing obviously dangerous pranks and/or pranks that waste police and emergency services. To my surprise, Roman Atwood, the prankster from the “Drive by Shooting” prank recently discovered a prank that was too much for even him. But hey, stealing gas when it’s over $4 a gallon could get you killed anywhere…

Thanks for reading and sharing! For a bit of comic relief, enjoy this classic SNL skit that relates to this blog perfectly 🙂

SNL Prankster Skit with Christopher Walken