Friday, December 31, 2010

Zuckerberg, post-China, visits Taiwan - -- Just a two-day 'night market' stopover

Taiwanese netizens and TV new channels were full of Facebook gossip in the run-up to New Year's Day, and the news is that after visiting
China with his gal-pal Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg made a pit stop in "the other China" -- Taiwan! -- where Facebook is not banned and
spent some quiet downtown visiting local night markets and sampling such Taiwanese delicacies as snake soup, pig blood cakes and smelly
tofu. There were no press conferences, no TV face time, and not one public appearance. Instead, the Facebook CEO and Time magazine's Person of the Year,
stayed off the media radar and would have gone completely undetected if it weren't for....

.... the internet!

Because Taiwan's version of the colorful and chaotic internet charted numerous local sightings of La Zuckerberg.
The democratic island nation's Mobile01 internet forum spotlighted a post by “seattleincredibo” who said he had come ''face to face'' with the Facebook genie in a local hotel
lobby. Of course, the hotel's concierge office, connected to its PR wing, had to deny the rumor, citing privacy issues, but not one person believed the denial.

Sighting site: The Taipei Hilton hotel, Probability of rumour truthiness: 99.9 percent.

"OMG, we just saw Mark Zuckerberg at Snake Alley [Night Market]," noted a Tweet on Twitter from "Yupkigirl". "Walking with his gf and 2 bodyguards. We were so shocked we only got his back.” Her tweet was reposted at

A Hilton hotel PR woman told local media that she had no idea if Zuckerberg was staying at her hotel, citing privacy rules for well-heeled guests. When pressed, she
replied: "We really don't know if he is here or not. That is all I can say."

It was neither a confirmation nor a denial, the ultimate PR ploy.

"Seattleincredibo" said Zuckerberg was wearing "American, college-kid clothes" and even noted that that the bloke he saw looked very much like
the bloke on Time magazine's recent cover and seemed to be anywhere from ''165 to 170 centimeters'' tall. Gotcha!

Taiwan's always robust media was agog with photos of Zuckerberg in Taipei and posted this one:

Zuckerberg most likely stopped in Taipei as a two-day layover from his travails in China, and in addition to eating some tasty snacks on this tasty, tantalizing and terrfiic
little island just 100 kilometres off the coast of "the other China," he also got a chance to usher in the New Year and watch the annual fireworks show from his 18th floor window.

Funny, but with the Facebook CEO's visit making news here, some punters posted comments on online forums saying they hated the new Facebook profile redesign and hope
Zuckerberg's design team will allow the old profile to remain an option for those who so desire it. No feedback yet on that one.

[hat tip to Lydia Lin]



臉書創辦人 真的去逛華西街

【楊惠琪、趙大智、許敏溶╱台北報導】擁有7.5億名會員、全球知名社交網站臉書(facebook)創辦人薩克柏(Mark Zuckerberg)現身台灣,前晚有網友拍到薩克柏偕女友逛北巿華西街夜巿的照片,華視演員訓練班老師查恆甚至還和薩克柏拍下合照,引發網友瘋狂轉貼討論。有網友說:「一起攔駕抗議新版介面不好用啦!」



薩克柏(Mark Zuckerberg)小檔案


Thursday, December 30, 2010

What's In Store for Technology in 2011 Products, Services and Big Developments to Watch for and the Challenges Facing the Major Players By WALLY MOSSBERGER,

It has been a big year in personal technology, with the word SCREENING being adopted by many people for "reading off screens" since it is not really READING, and from the debut and early faux success of Apple's iPad, to the rise and continuous improvement of Google's Android smart phone platform, to the continued surge in social services led by DoubleFacedbook and Twittering.

So I thought I'd take a look at the challenges and opportunities facing some major players in consumer tech in 2011. As with all my columns, this one is focused on how future MRI and PET scan tests might show that reading off screens is INFERIOR to reading on paper surfaces, and if this is true, there will be hell to pay, and hey, c'est la vie. Also, as usual, this column isn't meant to offer investment advice or to evaluate the management skills or financial condition of companies. It is a look at the products and competitive positions of the key contenders as they enter the new year.

Apple: Coming off a highly successful 2010, in which it introduced a new category of portable computer—the multitouch tablet—and sold millions of the product, Apple will have to withstand an onslaught of competitors by wowing consumers again with the second version of the iPad. At the same time, it will have to make a widely expected transition for the iPhone from a single carrier in the U.S., AT&T, to a second, likely Verizon. This could present a new opportunity to reach lots of new customers, but the sleek phone will have to work well on different network technology. At the same time, Apple will be hoping its planned new Macintosh operating system, Lion, can preserve the surprising momentum of the high-priced Mac, which the company is trying to enhance with certain iPad-like features, such as an app store and longer battery life.


Apple's iPad will face an onslaught of competition in the coming year.
.In 2011, Apple also is likely to try to address two areas where it has been weak: cloud computing and social networking. Both its MobileMe cloud service and its Ping social network had rough starts, and MobileMe charges $100 a year for services others give away. Apple is so popular, it has a huge opportunity to link users of its family of devices and of iTunes via the cloud and social networks, but it will have to aim higher and execute better. The second area where it likely hopes to improve is in the living room. The new, cheaper Apple TV is selling better than its predecessor but still lacks much Internet content. To break through, Apple will have to strike landmark deals with media companies.

Google: The search giant, also riding high, is now in so many product areas it competes with nearly everyone. In its core search business, it must focus on fending off a surprisingly strong challenge from Microsoft's Bing by giving consumers more attractive, actionable results. Its Android operating system is a big hit, but still isn't as polished or easy to use as the iPhone's software, and even a Google official admitted it is still "an enthusiast product for early adopters." One big test will be the forthcoming Honeycomb version of Android, meant for tablets that challenge the iPad.

A separate group at Google will try in 2011 to revolutionize the PC operating-system business and muscle in on incumbents Microsoft and Apple. Its new Chrome OS will power notebooks that essentially act as Web browsers, and run programs stored in the cloud, not on a hard disk. They also store all your files in the cloud. We'll learn in 2011 how many consumers are comfortable with that approach.

Google also may take another whack at social networking, where it hasn't made much of a dent after its Buzz service failed to take off. And it will have to rework its overly complex Google TV effort to bring Internet video to the living room.

View Full Image

Associated Press

The PlayBook, a new QNXbased tablet from Research In Motion.
.Mossberg's Mailbox
Using Public WiFi Hotspots
.Microsoft: The software giant still generates strong consumer loyalty with its older products, like Windows and Office and Xbox, all of which have had updates in the past year or two. But it faces big challenges in two hot areas: smart phones and tablets. Its new Windows Phone 7 platform has some nice design features, but also some missing capabilities that need to be addressed. Initial sales seem respectable, but will have to accelerate to get Microsoft back in a game it once led. The company also is a long way from the 300,000 apps available for the iPhone or the 100,000 for Android.

In tablets, Microsoft is hinting that a new version of Windows is being designed with a tablet focus to complement its PC focus. That product can't be too late, given the rapid rise of the iPad and the many planned Android and other tablets for 2011. One golden opportunity Microsoft has is to expand the reach of its brilliant Kinect technology for games to other forms of computing. This system can recognize individual users and interpret gestures without the use of a controller device.

Meanwhile, Microsoft hopes to seize on a surge in concern about privacy to help keep its diminishing lead in browsers by building new privacy features, unavailable so far in other browsers, into the 2011 version of Internet Explorer.

View Full Image


A golden opportunity for Microsoft: Expand its Kinect technology for games to other forms of computing.
.RIM: The BlackBerry maker had a good 2010 in some ways, though sales were propped up by two-for-one giveaways, and consumer surveys show enthusiasm fading for the iconic smart phone. It needs a radically new user interface to keep up with iPhone and Android, and a lot more third-party apps. But it can't afford to alienate its fan base. The company has an answer: a new software platform called QNX, but is vague on when that will show up on the BlackBerry. For 2011, RIM's big move will be a new QNX-based tablet, the PlayBook, which looks speedy and highly attractive in the limited demos RIM has provided. What isn't clear is how much the PlayBook will be aimed at consumers, as company officials have consistently stressed its appeal to businesses.

HP: The technology behemoth's laptops and printers have proved popular with consumers. But it hasn't had any real presence in smart-phones, tablets or consumer cloud services. To solve the problems, in 2010 HP bought innovative but struggling Palm, whose smart-phone operating system, webOS, and phones, the Pre and Pixi, got good reviews but sold poorly and didn't attract many third-party apps. In 2011, HP hopes to use its ample money and talent to revive webOS with new phones and tablets to challenge Apple and Android. A successful Palm re-launch, with the new initiatives from RIM and Microsoft, would be good for consumers by providing more choice and competition. HP also hopes to boost home printing with a new line of printers that can print anything emailed across the Internet and wirelessly print from Apple's hand-held devices.

View Full Image


Microsoft's Kinect lets people play games without a controller device. It reflects their body movements on the TV screen.
.Facebook and Twitter: The twin leaders in social networking were red-hot in 2010, attracting vast numbers of users. They have huge opportunities for further success, but face challenges. Smaller services, like social-coupon company Groupon, continue to emerge with new social and community ideas consumers like. Apple and Google could be big headaches if they get social right in 2011. Facebook must continue its recent initiative to let members share personal details with more limited groups of friends, and to find ways to make money while offering more privacy, which has been a thorn in its side. Twitter is on a mission to get more than an active minority to post, while convincing people it is a valuable way to keep up with news and opinion even if you never post.

Despite the poor economy, the consumer-tech companies continue to show vibrancy, innovation and success. But every year brings challenges and surprises, and 2011 promises to be another fascinating ride.

—For all of Walt's columns and videos, go to the All Things Digital site,
Write to Walter S. Mossberg at

Bollywood Nollywood Italywood Francollywood Japanywood Taiwanywood Chollywood Hollywood

Bollywood Nollywood Italywood Francollywood Japanywood Taiwanywood Chollywood Hollywood


I've not been physically well the past days, somewhat I suppose a result of pressure for school here and my total situation. Sort of blanked out with a high blood pressure deal on Sunday DEC. 26 and wound up in the ER at a nearby Krankenhaus. gERMAN FOR HOSPITAL.

Due to go back for check-up tomorrow. Will cancel afternoon class and just wave the white flag.

Yes, hospital. Very strange. I blacked out for 3 1/2 hours. Nothing to do w. alcohol. The diagnose in the ER was some type of high blood pressure irregularity. Kind of scary.

I was extremely lucky. One of our religous order Brothers found me wandering around in the hallway, all dressed for a chapel service and then big festive Christmas dinner, disoriented and not able to talk straight, but babbling on and on. He saw something had gone awry and got my jacket and got us into a cab for the Krankenhaus.

They didn't hold me. Went in around 5 and I was home around 11 that night. I have no memory of anything from 5 till 8:30, when I came to there in the emergency room. I sure never had that happen to me.

Tomorrow I go back, but not to ER. Just for appointments w. two docs. Just canceled class. The students of course are extremely sad about that. The docs will have the records from some tests they did on me Sunday night.

I am hoping for tHE best. Would prefer if possible to regulate the problem by diet and not medicine.


I told my old pal re the above:

With the information that you told me, what you experienced lasf Sunday could be what is called TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), kind of temporary stroke that recovered within 24 hours. It usually caused by an embolism (blood clot) that flows into the brain arterial circulation, caused the symptoms of stroke, then the clot dissolved, the artery re-opened and the patient recovers without immediate consequence. However, if it was TIA, then yr risk of having a full blown stroke increases over the next few months, unless treated. Ask the docs about this today.Easy.

The cause of the blood clot is often because of the plaque formation (like the ones occur in the heart arteries) in the carotid artery(ies).

The first treatment of TIA's is to take one full aspirin a day. Easy! Ultra-sound (sonography) of the carotids to see if there's any obstruction. Depends on the results of the ultra-sound, either continue on aspirin or surgery (endarterectomy) may be indicated. Not all the obstruction of the carotid needs surgery though.

Dan, if you have carotid obstruction (carotid artery disease), aside treating that, u should have yr coronary arteries checked out since people who has carotid artery obstruction has higher risk of having coronary artery disease, and vise versa.

If u have high blood pressure or high blood lipid levels, those need to be treated too.

Hopefully, you will have a thorough exam and treatment.

dan south, doctor's son, LOOKING OUT FOR NORTHERN DAN

Courtney Boyd Myers completely misses the boat with her HOW WE CONSUME THE NEWS mantra: we do not CONSUME news, we either read it, or we watch it on TV, or we view on our screens, but we DO NOT CONSUME THE NEWS, Courtney has her head wrapped around the wrong word!

Courtney,,,you keep saying ''CONSUME'' THE NEWS....BULLSHIT! ....CONSUME? EAT? DIGEST? YOU ARE WRONG.....READ THE NEWS..... The 10 Best Ways to Consume the News The 10 Best Ways to Consume the News

Reply |Dan Bloom to Courtney
show details 7:49 PM (1 minute ago)

On Thu, Dec 30, 2010 at 12:45 PM, Dan Bloom wrote:
> In 2010: The 10 Best Ways to Consume .......Courtney,,,you keep saying CONSUME THE NEWS....BULLSHIT! ....CONSUME? EAT? DIGEST? YOU ARE WRONG.....READ THE NEWS..... the News The 10 Best Ways to Consume the News
> Posted on Dec 28th, 2010 by Courtney CONSUME Boyd CONSUME Myers
> While I started to put together a list of the ten best news apps of 2010, I paused to think about how drastically our consumption ........Courtney,,,you keep saying CONSUME THE NEWS....BULLSHIT! ....CONSUME? EAT? DIGEST? YOU ARE WRONG.....READ THE NEWS..... of the news has changed over the past year. Fortunately, my brilliant colleague Martin Bryant has written a post about just that, “How Online News Evolved in 2010.”
> Essentially, the iPad and Twitter have brought new media back to rock and roll status. In response, media companies who were still mourning the twilight of print, can now experiment with ways to make a buck again. The best media companies have been on Twitter for years and are now tailoring their sites for mobile, developing Web apps for Web stores like Google Chrome’s and pushing out super slick apps for the iPad and other reader devices.
> We consumed ......................Courtney,,,you keep saying CONSUME THE NEWS....BULLSHIT! ....CONSUME? EAT? DIGEST? YOU ARE WRONG.....READ THE NEWS..... a lot of news in 2010. But how did we consume Courtney,,,you keep saying CONSUME THE NEWS....BULLSHIT! ....CONSUME? EAT? DIGEST? YOU ARE WRONG.....READ THE NEWS..... it? On your tiny iPhone screen? Hopefully not. The best way to consume news this year was in a socially curated, real-time fashion with big pretty pictures and video. Here’s how:

Strange, how Courtney keeps ragging on about HOW CONSUME NEWS, Courtney, please, we do not CONSUME THE NEWS, we do not EAT the news, we do not go SHOPPING for the news....

1. we read the news
2. we watch the news on TV
3. we listen to the news on the radio
4. we view the news on the Internet

BUT WE DO NOT CONSUME THE NEWS, please re-write your article. WE ARE NOT CONSUMERS, we are readers, listeners, viewers, and I like to say now for people who get their
news off screens, we SCREEN THE NEWS......but consume? YOU GOT IT ALL WRONG!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The myth of Facebook's 500-million-strong ''army''

-- Most FB accounts have just 120 'friends'

Just as Amazon likes to inflate it's bestseller rankings in order to hype
its online presence and global glamour, So too does Facebook inflate
its so-called "membership" stats. When TIME magazine honored CEO Mark
Zuckerberg with its "[Geek] Person of the Year" cover story -- an
annual sales and marketing
gimmick on TIME's own part -- Richard Stengel, the magazine's hype guru, told
readers that Zuckerberg was chosen "for connecting more than half a
billion people
and mapping the social relations among them."

Excuse me, Richard, but most Facebook accounts have at most around 120
"friends", and
that's a far cry from half a billion. Where does this 500 million
figure come from? I have a FB
account, and I have around 120 friends, and I am not a ''member'' of
Facebook but merely
someone who signed up for a free account. I do not belong to Facebook
as a membership
organization any more than I belong to Google for having signed up for
its free gmail email service

And furthermore, Richard Stengel, Facebook is not a
500-mllion-member-strong social networking site. Most FB account
holders interact with at most 10-15 other FB account holders on any
given day. Where does this half a billion stat come from? It's hype,
it's marketing, it's bullocks.

Let's get real. Facebook is a phenomenon, it rocks. But it is not a
club of 500,000 people who all
interact and network with each other. It's just another platform on an
internet comprised of thousands of platforms, and while FB has won the
lottery for now, it might not even be around in 10 years. Sure, FB is
cool and convenient, and it's a great online tool, but it's not the
be-all and end-all
of all internet life. We could do very well it without it, thank you
very much. And it's
surely not irreplacable.

Facebook does not connect 500 million people with each other. Once again,
the media inflates the truth to tell a good story.But it's not the truth.

Got that, Richard Stengel?

Saturday, December 25, 2010


In a high-tech world, with all our high-tech gadgets connected to high-tech computers, and perhaps even connected to high-tech
WikiLeaks for all one knows, it is apparent to one and all that Osama Bin Laden is most likely dead as a doornail, having passed
into the next world sometime in the past 10 years.

Even Roger Cohen, savvy reporter and columnist for the New York Times and based
in London now, writes in a recent column that the "jihadists [are] led by a man who may or may not be alive", and that is about
the closest the mainstream Western media has come to pronouncing Bin Laden dead.

Bin Laden to Earth: "I am dead. Dead, dead, dead. Don't you get it? I pretend I am alive so our enemies will fear that I am
still alive. It's a great modus operandi, excuse my Latin!"

So let us know pronounce Osama Bin Laden DEAD!

Long may his name live in infamy!

How Do We Lie to Ourselves? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS....

In a recent essay in New Scientist, the psychologist Dorothy Rowe explained that none of us can see reality. British climate writer George Monbiot pointed out this essay and noted: "We have to construct it from our interpretation of what we perceive, tempered by experience. As a result, each of us exists in our own world of meaning. It is constantly at risk of being shattered by inconvenient facts. If we acknowledge them, they can destroy our sense of self."

"So, to ensure that we won’t be “overwhelmed by the uncertainty inherent in living in a world we can never truly know”, we shut them out by lying to ourselves." Monbiot concluded.

And how do we lie? Let me count the ways:

We lie by telling ourselves that.....the internet was invented by Al Gore so that Mark Zuckerberg could grow up to create Facebook.

We lie by telling ourselves that.....that email makes our lives simpler despite the mountains of SPAM that say otherwise.

We lie by telling ourselves that.....that being plugged in 24/7 is better than the alternative.

We lie by telling ourselves that.....that cyberbullying and cyberstalking do not concern us since we never engage in such nefarious activities.

We lie by telling ourselves that.....that reading on screens is superior to reading on paper surfaces even though it is likely that the reverse is true.

We lie by telling ourselves that.....that the more hi-tech gadgets we haev the happier we will be.

We lie by telling ourselves that.....that global warming has nothing to do with whether or not the human species will survive the next 1000 years.

We lie by telling ourselves that.....that newspaper websites' paywalls will work when we all know they won't.

We lie by telling ourselves that.....that the number of "friends" we have on Facebook is a mark of our own self-worth.

We lie by telling ourselves that.....that an unexamined screen life is worth living, despite the complications involved.

China follows France in outlawing 'foreign devil English' words

-- Propaganda ministry says 'no' to BBC, WTO, CIA, FBI, CNN: WTF?

First it was socialist xenophobic France, outlawing such groovy
English words as "le weekend" and "le email", and now the language police
in communist China are setting up ''guidelines'' against the mixing
of Chinese and foreign languages in media reports. Not kidding.

This does not
bode well for le internet or for le slang inside le Middle Kingdom. So
goodbye abbreviations such as GDP (gross domestic product), CEO (chief
executive officer) and CPI (consumer price index) -- not to mention
CIA, FBI, BBC, CNN and WTO -- and hello CCP-approved “standardized
use of foreign language” words in [CCP] Chinese Communist
Party-controlled media.

In the future, all English words and internet
terms should either be translated into simple Chinese characters or
followed by explanatory notes in said characters.

Welcome to the New China, where English words are ''verboten'', pardon
our German, and totally, like, barf me up, off-limits.

This new CCP directive, under the genteel auspices of the General
Administration of
Press and Publication (GAPP) -- also known as the Great Apopalectic
Pissing Pole in some corners of the Free World -- hopes to standardize the use of
language in newspapers and other publications, particularly when
devil foreign languages used. The voluntarily mandatory regulation
includes requiring the use of all English-language place names, people
and companies to be translated into simplified Chinese characters.
Internet terms must follow suit. No more words like ''blogging'' or ''twittering''
or ''status updates''.
Not everyone in Chinaland is happy with this Frenchy language scam.
The French Academy tried to do this to bloody English
a few years ago, and nobody much liked the idea in Paris, other than a
few old, balding xenophiles. While almost everyone in China
loves this new foreign devil English directive -- with a year in ''le labor
camp'' for anyone who stands up and says "non" -- a few savvy people with savoir-faire
in Beijing think it's stupid beyond words.

"Although the intention of protecting the [mother of all mother]
Chinese languages is good," an editor at a Beijing publishing house
told the China Daily, pleading
that her name be kept out of the news, "in an age of globalization,
when some English acronyms like WTO (World Trade Organization) have
been widely accepted by Chinese readers here, it might be a bit too
absolute and draconian to eliminate them in all publications."

That person no longer has a job.

GAPP has taken the absolute and draconian measures a bit further by
warning all and sundry that those who fail to
follow the regulations will be punished. "Les labor camps" might not
be everyone's idea of ''zen'' summer camp, but hey, this
is the New China., so c''est la vie and stuff it up the kazoo if you
don't thing it will play in Peoria.

Wang Jingqiong, writing for the English-language China Daily in ''La
Chine'', said that "randomly mixing foreign languages with Chinese" is
strickly ''verboten'' in her "pays". Except she did not use German or
French in her report -- just plain boring devil-may-care "anglais".

According to GAPP, the increasingly random appearance of foreign
words and abbreviations, especially "foreign devil" and "hairy
barbarian" English, is
damaging the Chinese language inside China.

Wang added that "la crise de les Chinoise" is so worrisome that a proganda paper
called La Journal de la Jeunesse Chinoise did a survey on the
issue, according to which 80 percent of the 1.3 billion Chinese who
responded agreed that their native language is ''in crisis'', with 52
percent of the 1,3 billion laying the blame on "Chinese people now pay
more attention to
learning foreign devil English than pure motherland Chinese".

Not everyone agrees. Ma Zhuanghuan, a professor of linguistics at
Beijing International
Studies University, said that while he supports the new regulation, he
also feels that ''banning the mixing of languages wholesale in
publications is
detrimental to Chinese, because it is natural for one language to be
affected by another in its development."

He didn't say anything about retail, though.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Zuckerberg Cookin' Up a Plan to Enter China

-- But Will the Menu Open to Facebook?

BEIJING -- When banned-in-China Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited China last month, accompanied by longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan, a Chinese-American woman from Boston who went to Harvard wtih him back in the good old days, there were two signs that caught his attention as he toured Beijing. One banner read, in English, "Warm welcome to China to the founder of the website 404 Not Found". The other banner read "Warm Welcome to Mr. Part of Your Search Results Cannot be Displayed".

Kidding. Actually, Zuckerberg had a good time in China and now safely back at Facebook headquarters gently scratching his head and wondering what to make of it all. It sure it is
a big country, and he knows that now. It sure has a lot of people, and he knows that now, too. And damn, the Beijing winters are even colder than Boston and New York. Lessons
learned by a perapatetic internet visionary on his way to world domination.

Kidding again. Zuckerberg met with a host of China's top technology leaders in Beijing, fueling massvie media speculation that Facebook has its eyes on entering a market where it is blocked by Chinese Communist Party censors. Seems China is afraid of Facebook, but Facebook's not afraid of China. Will he go in? Will Beijing extend an invite? Not in 2011 and probably not until China opens up enough to be called a full-fledged democracy. So don't expect any Facebook members in China anytime this century.

Taiwan, however, "the other China", is another story. With millions of Facebook members in Taipei, fueled by the complex Chinese writing characters that Taiwan still uses -- in marked juxtaposition to the simplified characters mandated by the communist mandarins in China, ''Farmville'' and status updates are part of daily life in the democratic island nation just off the
coast of big bad China. But Taiwan has just 23 million people and China has 1.3 billion people, so Zuckerberg is, naturally, how shall we say, interested, in that part of the Chinese-speaking world, too.

Do the math: China has 420 million internet users, more than any other nation on Earth. Do more math: Chinese social-networking sites have 176 million users and the number
is going up every day.

More math: Facebook is available in 66 languages worldwide, and 77% of its more than 555 million active users are outside Obama's America.

Witgh Facebook being terminally blocked inside China, and with communist authorities never saying exactly why, Zuckerberg wants to know what's cookin'. So he's lookin'.

Stay glued to your status updates.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Truthiness a la Taiwan' called into question- -- Does Jimmy Lai lie?

The Taiwanese news animation shop responsible for the
animated Tiger
Woods car crash video and other "news-in-motion" gems has been slowly
reinventing the news wheel and there's no
end in sight. Next Media
Animation ( – a 300-person shop run by Hong Kong transplant Ben
Wong and specializing in
cute and quirky animations of breaking news
events – is set to conquer the internet.

But wait! A local English-lanuage newspaper in Taiwan (inexplicably
named the ''China Post'' even though it is headquartered in a country
called Taiwan) recently took the animation house to task for
stretching the line between truth and fantasy.

"[Next Media Animation] has become famous -- or should that be
infamous? -- across the world for its often quasi-fictional depictions
of big news events," the China (sic) Post said in an unsigned

It then slammed Asian media mogul Jimmy Lai's animated operation for following
Yankee TV comedian Stephen Colbert's "truthiness" dictum that "truth
is what we want to believe" and not
necessarily the truth.

"In that respect, many of [Lai's] videos are nothing more than than
truthiness a la Taiwanese."
Was the China (sic) Post saying that Jimmy Lai lies?

Lai, a suspender-sporting and savvy media man, was born in communist China
and raised in British-controlled Hong Kong. He now
splits his time between China-controlled Hong Kong and free and
colorful Taipei. Inside China proper, he
is 'persona non grata' due to his political views, and he cannot even
visit his old hometown to pay filial piety respect to his ancestors
there. He would be
stopped at the border. No free-thinkers allowed.

Lai's news-in-motion animation mantra? Filling in gaps in the news for
people around the world. His modus operandi: short, quirky
animated news stories
using CG "art" to depict the latest headlines.

Sometimes you have to use
your imagination, sometimes you don't.
Lai's news animation business took off when the New
York Times wrote about of the infamous Tiger Woods car crash video, helping
it become a viral internet sensation.

Sometimes cultural gaps come into play, according to Mark Simon at Next Media.
When an animation of Sandra Bullock
was commissioned by an American TV network, Bullock ended up more like
Korean-American pro golfer
Michelle Wie than the Hollywood star.

Artistic licence? Sure. One animation explaining a spat between
Yankie late-night TV hosts began quietly, before
the celebrities morph into superheroes who begin beating each other
with chairs.

Simon has a good way to explain the mother ship: "We are the History
Channel on speed!"

Some call this Maybe Journalism -- "a best guess at the
news as it might well have been, rendered as a video game and built on
a bed of pure surmise", as Noam Cohen at the New York Times put it.

Xeni Jardin over at BoingBoing just can't seem to get enough of this stuff,
blogging in her signature gushing manner: "If only this news org would offer an
entire 24-hour channel of this
stuff! I don't care that I can't understand the dialogue in Chinese --
all I need
to know is in that sweet, sweet CGI."

The NMA videos now come online with English subtitles, tapped in by Western
expats in Taipei.

One punter put NMA's genius this way: "This is, by far,
the greatest act of journalism in human history.
I wish they made one for the Hindenburg disaster."

Meanwhile, the unsigned editorial in the China (sic) Post wondered out
loud "where the line between news reporting and gossipy sensationalism
should be drawn." Opining that NMA's videos "frequently stray close
to, if not beyond, the boundaries of good taste," the newspaper
pointedly attacked Lai's team for making a 33-second AV (animated
video) of notorious UK murderer Stephen Griffith that depicted his
murder of a young woman "in graphic detail."

"West Yorkshire police were openly critical of Next's dubious
opportunism," the China (sic) Post said of the Griffith gore, adding
that a spokesman for the Yorkshire police said: "This video is in
extremely poor taste, totally insensitive to the families, and we have
asked that it be removed immediately."

Take that, Jimmy Lai!

Speaking digital is as easy as pie - -- But the ''language'' changes daily

Shama Kabani of Zen Marketing in Texas says that one of her clients
told her he hired her because she "speaks digital". When asked to
explain what this meant to her, Kabani, 25, said: "The millennials are
often referred to as 'digital natives'. It means, for me, like most
people in my generation, I grew up with technology. It isn’t foreign
to me. I didn’t enter the workforce and then later introduced to
computers. I entered the workforece with computers right on my back,
front and center. I don’t know what a workforce without technology
would even look like."

When asked when she first learned to speak digital, Kabani, who was
born in India and came to the U.S when she was nine, said: "I got my
first computer at the age of nine. I was living in Bangalore, India.
at the time."

Who taught her to learn to speak digital?

"No one taught me. Like most people in my generation, I just grew up
with it. It's natural."

When asked if anyone, regardless of age or education level, can learn
to speak digital, she said: "Yes, I believe that anyone can learn how
to use technology. Although I also think it comes more naturally to
younger members of our society."

Learning to speak digital, according to Kabani could perhaps be
compared to learning to speak English as a second language,

or learning any new language, for that matter. And to learn to speak
digital, Kabani says "students would have to be very open, and willing
to see things from a different perspective. And unlike English, the
“digital” language changes daily."

Asked to explain what it means to speak digital, Kabani added: "I
think it’s a certain perspective. Technology isn’t an afterthought. It
is weaved into the very fabric of life."

Her vision of the future, in terms of America learning to speak
digital as a nation?

"I think we're all learning as we go," she said. "Just look at the
last U.S. presidential election. We, or at least the younger
generations, already speak “digital” -- now it’s a matter of
integrating it better into the fabric of our lives.

'Twas the CISO Before Christmas

"'Twas the CISO Before Christmas"

by Rob Rachwald, Director of Security Strategy at Imperva, UK

[TechEye guesses CISO stands for Chief Information Security Officer]

According to Imperva, a Chief Information Security Officer should be "stout and plump" - with a "chubby face and a little round belly".

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Net
Every hacker was stirring, planning cyber-threat.
SQL statements were injected with care,
In hopes that credit card numbers soon would appear.

Security auditors were nestled in beds,
While visions of audit logs danced in their heads.
With CISO in his ‘kerchief, and me in my cap,
We'd just settled for a cross-site script attack.

When out from the cubicles arose an Insider,
I sprang from the computer to see what the matter.
Away to the database I flew like a flash,
Tore open the log files, olost corporate cash!

The dim office lights shown on a new iPad
Turning a good guy with sudden secret data access - bad.
Then, you guessed it, data began to disappear,
Instantly killing Christian holiday cheer.

With access to a file server — a breach!
I knew in a moment no trip to the beach.
With downloading files to the delight of most geeks,
We’d be frontpaged in the Times and scopped on Wikileaks.

Now Auditor and CISO and all-knowing Network Team!
It’s Christmas Data theft! I wanted to scream!
To the database! To the IT room, at the end of the hall!
Now audit away! Audit away! Audit away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So up to the house-top the sensitive files flew,

In an iPad full of files heading to Julian Assange—we’re so screwed.

And then I heard something, I thought it was a goof

Prancing and pawing, perhaps it came from the roof?

But no, as I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the hall the CISO came with a bound.

Dressed for cyber defense, from head to foot,

His clothes were all sweaty, but he stayed put.

A bundle of security tricks he had flung on his back,

He looked like a soldier, ready to counter attack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! His pocket protector, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

His face showed he had that data security mojo.

A cell phone he held tight in his fist,

Ready to call the CEO who was going to be pissed.

He had chubby face and a little round belly,

That shook at every cross site request forgery!

He was stout and plump, a right jolly old security pro,

And I trembled when I saw him, feeling like Homer, “Doh”!

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

I realized I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

He pulled a plug and blocked access to the network.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

Way way way up the corporate latter he rose!

He sprang to his office, to his team gave a whistle,

And away he flew down the hall like a missile.

But I heard him exclaim, before he turned out the light,

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a secure-night!"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Guardian and New York Times pranked by PR stunts

This time it's

Last time it was

Both stories had their genesis in savvy press releases by a
mysteriousman named Cathal Morrow, a Welshman
who resides in Madrid and deserves some of kind of media prize for his
global skills at punking said media.

This month he also punked the well-respected Freakonomics blog at the
New York Times. His modus
operandi is simple: write a short, snappy press release and send it
around. Someone is bound
to pick it up. But the New York Times? The Guardian? The Observer?
Even the Wall Street Journal?

WIth respected journalists like Duncan Campbell and Robert McCrum
taken in by the ruse, too.

Yes. Cathal Morrow's got cojones.

went along with the hoax, probably in full cahoots with Cathal and his
PR agent Edward Ftizpatrick!

Item: Cathal Morrow claims he will float himself on the Stock Exchange
Wanted: literary shareholders to buy 30,000 shares in him at £10 apiece

And the media in London and New York slop it up without asking nay
questions. They basically
reprint the bloke's press releases verbatim. That's journalism at our
top papers now?

Alison Flood at the Guardian tells readers that Morrow is "writing up
his exploits [from a previous PR stunt in 2008 ]as a book [titled "Yes
We Kant" -- but Flood never verifies that such a book is even really
being written. She just takes
the man's word on his mass-mailed press release and runs with it. The
fact is that Cathal Morrow never wrote a book in his life, doesn't
have a book agent and there is no book at all. It's all a mirage, a
show, a PR game. The MSM
don't seem to emply fact-checkers these days, not even the august New
York Times.

Morrow on this latest stock market venture, which is a pure fantasy,
explains what he's up to.

"I'm floating the value of me, that is the intellectual property of
the story of my flotation on the stock exchange," he says. "If it goes
viral, if we get book deals, and a big movie studio wades in with a
big chunk of cash, then that could be worth a considerable amount. The
more 'famous' I become, the greater the value of me."

If you believe any of this, I have a bridge to sell you, in Brooklyn,
not far from the New York Times.

Duncan Campbell in October 2008 in the Guardian gave Morrow his start
with this nonsense,
also taken almost verbatim back then from the prankter's press
release: "The philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that telling lies was
always morally wrong. But is it possible to live without telling a
single lie for a whole year? That is the task that Cathal Morrow has
set himself and he will let us know next year if it is possible, when
he has finished his book on the experiment, to be called 'The Complete

That's the book that Morrow never wrote and that he "claims" to be
writing now. Except that he's not. The man
is not a published writer and he never wrote a book in his life.

Earth to Guardian! Earth to New York Times! Earth to Wall Street Journal!

You've been punked by a serial prankster. And he's not finished, either.

Morrow, who’ claims he's in the midst of a year without
''unhappiness'' -- book deal, anyone? -- following his year without
lying -- book deal, anyone? -- has a new project that even got past
eagle-eyed New York Times editors: Me Me Me Plc, a company he plans to
float on the London Stock Exchange by selling shares in himself. It’s
£10 a share, which gets you a photograph of the British expat in lieu
of a share certificate.

Enough already! Editors of the mainstream media, wake up! You have
nothing to lose but your blinders!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rudy Shur responds to my earlier poem with a poem of his own, and it's even better!

Dear Danny,

Your poem was clever,
remarkably so,
I'm just sorry to hear
it's a lament when you go.

The thing about life
is the fact that it ends,
but whose point of view,
as to where, all depends.

If it ends ,let it end
as our time fades to black,
or heaven awaits,
or we'll simply come back.

Our end is not clear,
it's not fixed or precise,
with little to go on
we scurry like mice.

With prayer or reluctance
our fates stay the same,
it's one unknown crapshoot
that's part of the game.

It'd be nice to meet you
once we both pass,
But if it ain't gonna happen,
I think life was a gas.

It's all about now
and the people we are,
so rejoice with your friends
who are near and afar.

It's all that we know
and it's all that we have,
so let's live every minute
as though it's our last.

-- Rudy

What's wrong with current e-readers?

Craig Mod says printed books still beat e-books

TOKYO -- It's a rainy weekend afternoon in Tokyo and American expat Craig Mod
is sitting in a sleek coffeeshop reading a book
on his newly-purchased iPad, test-driving it. But distractions abound.
Not in the crowded coffeeshop or out on
the colorful Tokyo streets, but right there on his iPad.

He muses: "Distractions
[come to my attention trying to read on this iPad, such as]: sloppy
typography, misspelt words, confusing page breaks,
widows, orphans, broken tables. These and more pull me from the
narrative spell. In that moment I realize, although I've had this
substantial object of glass and metal for a few weeks, I haven't
managed more than ten pages of anything."

Mod, a writer, designer and publisher in his mid-30s, wonders what the
problem is.

"It's not the screen -- I've happily read several novels on my
iPhone," he thinks. "It's not the weight -- it feels fine when resting
on a table or my knee."

So, what then?

"The problem is much simpler," Mod says, making some mental notes.
"iBooks and are incompetent
e-readers. They get in the way of the reading experience and treat
digital books like poorly typeset PDFs. We can do better."

He goes one step further and says: "We have to do better!"

Mod likes to think hard -- and deep -- about these kinds of questions:
What's wrong with current e-readers and how do we rebuild them?
What meta-data do we create when engaging digital text, how can
e-readers embrace it and how does that change readers' relationships with

Of course, who cares how great the e-bookstores are if it's painful to
read the e-books?

Mod again: "I barely prefer over iBooks -- it's simply
the less horrible of two bads. Both of these applications treat
e-books little better than cheap PDFs made from scanned physical
books. If we want an e-reader capable of fully embracing the digital
advantages of our e-books, we need to start rebuilding."

According to Mod, printed books and e-books are both text at their
cores. "Book designers long ago established rigorous rules for laying
out text blocks so they disappear to the reader," he muses. "They took pride in
turning the physicality of a book into a tool for efficiently and
elegantly getting information into the mind of the reader. As any good
typographer knows: the best typography goes unnoticed."

"Our e-readers [today] seem to have forgotten this heritage. They've forgotten
that their core purpose is simply to present text as comfortably as
possible; to gently pull the reader into the story. Every other aspect
of experiencing a book is predicated on this notion.

Mod wants to see e-readers improve on these core issues:

Hypenation: Why is hyphenation proving to be so elusive? "Eucalyptus
on the iPhone does a fine job with it. If they can, then so should
Apple and Amazon," he says, adding: "Hyphenation isn’t as big a deal
for longer line lengths. But if one
advantage of digital books is large font-sizes for the visually
impaired, then hyphenation must be implemented. The impact hyphenation
has on readability multiplies as the point size increases."

Ragged-right text: "There's
something sociopathic about major e-readers not including this option," he says.

Smarter margins: "Line length and margins are intrinsically tied to
the type and size of
font being used, and the shape of the page (or screen). Like
Instapaper, you could give readers a choice of leading, margins and
font size. But readers aren’t typographers. They shouldn’t have to
choose. These are page design fundamentals, based on rational
proportions. Our e-reader layout algorithms should be competent in
balancing these variables.''

Copy and paste: ''That we can’t copy and paste is an insult. The
rationale behind this
restriction is obvious: publishers don’t want readers to easily
extract entire books. It’s a form of DRM through obnoxiousness.''

Typesetting: Mod says that currently, printed book typesetting is far
more nuanced and elegant
than any Kindle or iBooks edition, adding: "Add to the equation that
many digital books are OCR scans with broken
tables and sloppy page breaks, and you have to wonder just how anyone
thinks they can charge a near equivalent price for an inferior reading
experience. A reading experience made inferior not because of the
device, but because of a lack of consideration in the presentation. A
reading experience that can be made better with a stronger focus on

Mod's mantra: let’s focus on the fundamentals. Improve e-reader typography
and page balance. Integrate well-considered networked

Last words: "Respect the rights of the reader and then -- only then -- will
we be in a position to further explore our new canvas."

Inside the mind of Scientology's ''Messiah''

Twenty-five years after his death, Michael Bywater revisits the sacred texts of the pulp science writer turned prophet L Ron Hubbard

I once knew a man who sat next to a couple of guys in a Los Angeles diner and overheard them starting a religion. “So. We’ll need a saviour,” said one, “and a prophet.” “Well,” said the other, “I don’t know about the saviour. Muslims just have a prophet, and they seem to do fine.” And on they went, discussing strategy and PR, marketing campaigns and the necessary steps for charitable status, a hierarchy (and indeed a demos of the faithful, this being America). You’d think it would have been easier if they’d had the internet back then.

But you would be wrong.

Out on the inter-web, the coffee-shop guys’ new religion would have had to compete for our attention with all that other stuff like International Talk Like A Pirate Day and NaNoWriMo and (before it started becoming unwatchable with all those damned ads).

The last really successful religion – the only successful one for 1,340 years, since Islam kicked off with the Qur’an – was started way before the online Distraction Machine. One article in the May 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction started the whole thing going. The author was a red-headed pulp sci-fi writer with a sideline in Westerns and fantasy who to the astonishment of his colleagues churned out about a million words a year at 70 words a minute. Clearly he hadn’t just been cooling his heels for the remaining 46 weeks of the year, but thinking up something spectacular. The new religion (or at least its core idea) was no flash in the pan; its author, writes sociologist Stephen Kent, “had been discussing and developing his ideas at least as far back as the previous summer”. Assuming he could think twice as fast as he could type, that’s roughly 18 million words of thinking before he went into print. No wonder the idea caught on.

“The author” was, of course, L Ron Hubbard, the idea was called “dianetics”, the book that followed in 1950 was called Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, the religion, Scientology, and the whole story was both remarkable and utterly improbable.

It being 25 years since L Ron croaked (or abandoned his body to continue his researches on a planet in a distant galaxy, which is what Tom Cruise and John Travolta believe, and Jerry Seinfeld, Van Morrison and Sharon Stone used to believe, or at least are believed to believe or have believed) it seemed only fair to read Dianetics and a bit of L Ron’s other stuff – Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 and the Ole Doc Methuselah stories from Astounding magazine – to see how he might have done it.

And the answer is: it’s a complete bloody mystery, and not just because Dianetics is obviously nonsense. Everything is obviously nonsense. What are you telling me? When the gentleman loves the lady very very much, he climbs on top and is excused into her? And she lets him? And then there’s a baby? Excuse me? It’s ridiculous. All of it. God, Allah, Elohim, Mithras, Zeus, atoms, quarks, the Higgs boson, genes, gravity, germs: all bollocks. All, to put it another way, stories. We may think that supersymmetry or, even more scarily, M-theory are somehow truer or more real but that’s because most of us can’t see that mathematics is another language for telling stories in – indeed, stories in which the most important thing, just as in Athenian tragedy, is not that they are necessarily true but that they are internally coherent.

So what’s egregious about Dianetics? Never mind that it’s bollocks. We’ve dealt with that. Why is it more bollocks than Christianity? Why is it such a mad idea that we are actually the – I’ve probably got this wrong but it’s late and because of reading Dianetics I think I may have gone mad – invisible spirits of Thetans from a different galaxy, struggling with an accretion of spiritual vegetative matter which needs to be removed with constant application of money and a thing called an e-meter which doesn’t actually do anything except cost over $4,000, which is a pretty good return on a sort of Wheatstone bridge made from around £20-worth of components you could get from Maplin? And when that’s all done, you’re in the clear and can go on to some kind of new life.

Which of course is far more peculiar than the idea that if you tell a man in a box wearing a special magic scarf – a man who has been touched by another man in a special hat who has been rubbed with magic oil – about climbing on top of the lady and being excused into her, a special alien in the sky who is his own father AND utterly unimaginable AND just like us will be very, very sorry for you and then you’re in the clear and can go on to some kind of new life (which, as a partly Catholic atheist, I entirely believe. Though as also a partly Jewish atheist, I regard as bollocks). Or the idea that if you listen very carefully to a special man who will read to you from a magic book which was dictated to a man in the desert by exactly the same special alien except this time he wasn’t his own father, and do exactly what the book says, you will be in the clear and go on to some kind of new life. Or another almost identical idea except this time you have to put explosives up your bottom and blow yourself up in order to kill, or even really, really seriously inconvenience, other people who believe almost exactly the same thing, except that they have better stuff, and then you will be in the clear and go on to an almost identical kind of new life except you get to be excused into lots of ladies without having to love them very, very much or even at all.

So after wading – for once, it’s the right word – through Dianetics and failing to understand what it was on about (though understanding enough to realise it was bollocks) I found myself posing this question: what’s so egregious about Scientology?

L Ron can write. It may not be to your taste but while it would take a poor and paltry imagination to be gripped by Battlefield Earth (brutal alien invaders, heroic boy earthling, alien called Zzt, someone gulping down a “saucepan of Kerbango”, a home base imaginatively named “Planet 1, Galaxy 1” and a Planetary Director of Earth called Numph), Ole Doc Methuselah is a different matter. Excellent pulp SF, a good lead character – highly respected member of the Universal Medical Society – exactly what the readers of Astounding (count me in, although really I was always a Creepy Worlds man myself) want. In terms of literary competence, L Ron is streets ahead of the lamentable Book of Mormon, a feeble pastiche of the miraculous language of the translators who produced the King James Bible.

Nor, indeed, does Scientology’s “belief system” – it’s the “system” bit that bothers me, not the “belief” – go as far as the others. L Ron’s Thetans don’t claim responsibility for the whole show. They didn’t make the cosmos. They’re just part of the cosmos, and since it’s fairly mainstream rationality now to say that the cosmos must contain all possible iterations of itself, one has to conclude: fair enough.

So what is the great gulf between Scientology and pretty much all other reasonably popular insanely improbable belief systems?

My conclusion is that it’s L Ron. Not just his keenness on the business aspects of religion. Not just the thorough nastiness of some of his administrative bruisers. Not just the allegations of black ops and dodgy dealings or the notorious hair-trigger litigiousness of the organisation (it’s so litigious it’ll probably sue me for calling it so litigious it’ll probably sue me). Nor even L Ron’s history as a civil engineer, a pretty flaky WW2 military career (kicking off a two-day battle involving his own submarine-chaser, four other ships, two blimps but no actual enemy submarine) or his tall stories about geology, Freud, atomic physics (he failed), being a lama, exploring, documentaries and the rest. No; my theory is it’s L Ron. I mean, literally, “L Ron”. Jesus: fine. Muhammad: fine. Moses: tickety-boo. Peace be upon them all. But L Ron? Excuse me? If its founder had been “L Ron Christ” would Christianity ever have got going? It’s a harsh world and I think the answer is “no”.

But as for why Scientology did get going ... well: first, Dianetics hits the perfect pitch of laying out mumbo-jumbo in just clear enough terms for people who think they’re terribly significant but who aren’t that bright (there are a lot of movie stars in the lists, wouldn’t you say?) to think that they’re grasping something terribly important which actually makes sense. And, secondly, it doesn’t pose a Creator. Just a bunch of clever aliens. Whom we can turn back into if we have enough money.


Apotheosis without the Theos. Only a science fiction writer could come up with that idea. A religion. It’s got to be better than a poxy old New York Times bestseller. Ask any Thetan.

This is a preview article from the January/February 2011 issue of New Humanist, which is on sale from 16 December, with a free DVD of performances from 2008's Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People shows.
Subjects:cultsL Ron Hubbardpseudosciencepsychologyreligionscience fictionScientologyspirituality
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lupalz 5 days ago

Annie Lennox put it brilliantly:

Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

Sweet dreams (are made of this), Eurythmics
Flag tillkan and 1 more liked this Like ReplyReply Matt Heath 5 days ago

"The last really successful religion – the only successful one for 1,340 years, since Islam kicked off with the Qur’an"
That can't be right. What about Sikhism and Bahai?
Flag Stephen Hann liked this Like ReplyReply BMR 1 day ago in reply to Matt Heath

And Mormonism/LDS? that seems to be fairly "successful" if you measure their assets...
Flag Like ReplyReply Jo 1 day ago in reply to BMR

or Jahovah's Witnesses. with a confirmed membership of 7.5 million, the number of followers of Scientology is considerably lower.
Flag Like ReplyReply Stephen Hann 5 days ago

Whilst reading this I thought surely Sikhism (15th century) is the most recent successful religion to take off. I know plenty of Sikhs but no Bahais (I'm going to give Tea Partyism a bit longer) But I see Matt has beaten me to it. SAT SRI AKAL
Flag 3 people liked this. Like ReplyReply Hupple 5 days ago

Some of you comments are highly entertaining. But calling it succesfull? It really depends on how you look at it.

Succesfull in pretending to be succesfull? Most certainly.
Succesfull in bilking its members out of hundreds of thousands of dollars? Succesfull, and very consistently so.
Succesfull in evading justice actions despite overwhelming evidence of acting exactly like a criminal scam would? Well, moderately, it is currenty under government scrutiny (or convicted) in France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia and Australia. But admittedly, most other government still turn a blind eye to the well-documented breaches of law in every other country it operates in.
Succesfull in actually growing? Not so much. The American Religious Affiliation Study, showed the number of Scientologists in the US declining from 55.000 to 25.000 between 2001 and 2008.

Scientology, the fastest shrinking cult on the planet!
Flag rigaud and 4 more liked this Like ReplyReply Starrats2 2 days ago

My favorite nonprophet was U.G. Krishnamurti(google all his stuff freely) who tried to tell all that all religions are a load of dung. Not to be confused with that Ojai clown, S. Krishnamurti.
Flag Alan VanderKnight liked this Like ReplyReply Nicholas Kronos 2 days ago

It seems Mormons outnumber Scientologists worldwide, about 13 million to 8 million. So that's another recent religion that can claim to be more successful than Scientology.
Flag Like ReplyReply Macinac_harper 1 day ago in reply to Nicholas Kronos

More successful but not more recent.
Flag Like ReplyReply A Waldrond heir 2 days ago

You missed the bulls-eye why people believe - You came close when you stated in one-or-two of you comedic, run-on, sentences that the guy was a dynamic writer and could play to an individuals idea of self importance, but close only counts in both horseshoes and hand grenades and you clearly missed.

Having known many Scientologists and currently happening to be a "highly trained" yet "in the closet ex-Sceintologist", the true reason why the religion took off is that Hubbard made the individual the immortal focal point with an amazing past and an even more amazing potential. He called Dianetics a "science," but Scientology a religion. He plagiarized just enough stuff so that the first impression an individual has with the subject will generally be positive; especially when a placebo effect is factored in.

Their are some very capable people in Scientology, engineers, doctors, lawyers and artists and they are all not "half bright" as you mention. Belief is a shortcut the brain uses to speed up data transfer and these people should not be faulted for it. For instance, have you read all the global warming science papers ever produced? Have you done the math to see if the calculations are correct or, like most people, simply believe it has been done for you and the the source is trustworthy? Is their really methane on Saturn's moon,Titan, or is it ethane? DO you believe NASA or did you check the spectrometer data?

Why people stay in, like I did for 15-years, and continue to throw money at his L.RH.'s feet is the belief that are getting better-and-better and once they shuffle off their mortal coil, they will be plenty of euphoric options.
Flag 9 people liked this. Like ReplyReply Josh Strike 1 day ago in reply to A Waldrond heir

Belief is a shortcut not to speed up the transfer of legitimate data, but as you hinted at, to circumvent reason in favor of fantasy that produces a more comfortable or internally acceptable outcome. "Speeding up data transfer" sounds like it would be a good thing. But when you try to speed data transfer through a system beyond its bandwidth capacity, you get noise. Noise without error checking not only disrupts the transfer; it disrupts the functional logic on the receiving end of it. In some cases, where errors aren't caught and the noise can be interpreted rather than thrown out, the effect can multiply itself and become basically a cancer.

I'm not sure if anyone ever said or wrote that speed was a desirable feature in human intelligence when it comes to pondering the infinite; but if most modern religions can be taken as proof of concept viz. your statement, then slowing down and checking one's premises makes a lot more sense.
Flag 4 people liked this. Like ReplyReply Josh Strike 1 day ago in reply to A Waldrond heir

Hey and also -- why do we need a "better life"? We're already living in the best of all possible worlds. I pity actors who fall for this crap, but I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they're just not very smart. But engineers, doctors and lawyers? An ability to short-circuit reason in favor of easy answers casts doubt on any individual's intellectual capacity in any other sphere. If I found out my doctor was a "true believer" in some sect, I'd have serious reservations about putting myself into his or her care.
Flag 1 person liked this. Like ReplyReply Crcodile McD 2 days ago

The headline statement "The most recent successful new religion, the only big one for 1,340 years - since Islam kicked off with the Qur'an - began in a 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction...." is blatantly untrue unless that is meant to include ONLY the quirky fault ridden religions of the world.

If, on the other hand, one wishes to include the fastest up and coming belief system, then The Course in Miracles is a self-study metaphysical thought system which is unique in teaching forgiveness as the road to inner peace and the remembrance of the unconditional love of God.

A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or the Course) is a spiritual thought system in the mind that comes in the form of a book that explains its thought system of forgiveness as the correction for the thought system of the ego. ACIM sets forth the absolute non-dualistic nature of Heaven, God and Christ, while at the same time utilizing the dualistic teaching of forgiveness within the ego's thought system as the means for correcting it.

There are no radical ministers, priest, rabbis, imams, etc. to misguide anyone nor is there anyone demanding funding support for one to benefit from The Course in Miracles. As it only dates from 1975 IT IS THE FASTEST GROWING belief system in the world. Google, Yahoo or Bing it to learn more.

Crocodile McD
Flag Like ReplyReply rigaud 2 days ago

L Ron and Aleister Crowley on a yacht. A true story. Perhaps a Woody Allen film could do it justice?
Flag Like ReplyReply 65 2 days ago in reply to rigaud

No it isn't. You are getting confused with Jack Parsons, Elron and Crowley never met, tho he mocked him in letters.
Flag Like ReplyReply rigaud 1 day ago in reply to 65

You seem to be correct. Somerset Maugham initiated my confusion on the subject.
Flag Like ReplyReply Dshanah 2 days ago

It seems Scientology isn't nearly as "successful" as it likes to make out. (If you define success as the number of believers it has vs the amount of money it has made for its founders.)

Although it seems to have a lot of followers in Tinsletown it seems it has been grossly exaggerating the number of followers it has in the real world - despite claims to have hundreds of thousands of believers in Australia for example it was recently revealed that its mailing list was only a few thousand strong. It's highly likely to have been doing the same fiddling with membership figures all over.

Mormanism has been a much more successful modern religion than Scientology in terms of number of followers, not that this proves anything about a faith's factual basis of course. They're all Thetan if you look at them rationally!
Flag Helix Barkaway liked this Like ReplyReply Steve 2 days ago

Scientology is not a religion by any normal definition in that it does not concern itself with the transcendent Absolute. It is instead a rather bizarre cult having to do with space aliens etc.

And yes, I know, from the POV of members of this forum all religions are essentially bizarre cults. I spent much of my life as an atheist so am sympathetic to that situation, even though it is profoundly limited (sort of spiritual autism).
Flag Like ReplyReply Mf Lynn 2 days ago

To add to previous posts -- what about Mormonism?
Flag Like ReplyReply mike hudson 2 days ago

The omission of Mormonism, which is every bit as wacky as Scientology but has millions and millions more members, speaks both to the ignorance of the author and the editors here. Founded in 1830, Mormonism's scriptures were allegedly written on golden tablets dug up from an Indian mound in upstate New York, and copied out by the prophet Joseph Smith before disappearing back up to Heaven. Clearly, any credibility the writer and this publication may have had regarding religion in general is shredded by this omission.
Flag 3 people liked this. Like ReplyReply Ken_Pidcock 2 days ago in reply to mike hudson

Mormonism claims to correct Christianity more than to establish a new religion.
Flag Like ReplyReply David Monack 2 days ago in reply to Ken_Pidcock

So does Islam.
Flag Like ReplyReply Ricoculous2006 2 days ago

Mormons? 14 million? What is the cut off for being successful?
Flag 1 person liked this. Like ReplyReply Helix Barkaway 2 days ago

The writer of this article brought out some refreshing points. Scientology wouldn't have taken off in the web age, because too many people would have been able to easily examine the facts about L. Ron's life. It needed the stage of the "best seller" in Dianetics for a launch, coupled with MYSTERY allowed by the state of communication at the time.

L. Ron flunked out of college and bought a PhD from Sequoia mail-order scam U.

His 22 year old son Quentin killed himself to get away from it all, and another son, Ron Jr., publicly denounced the whole thing as a fraud. The latter which can be seen in several talk show and news interview videos on YOUTUBE. Both sons were steeped in cult cuckoo.

This list of L. Ron's lies and well documented antics goes on and on.

All of it may be irrelevant or even impressive to people who want to adhere to Ron's principle, that "you have to lie to people in order to control them." However, it isn't going to appeal to 99% of the population, and so how will they "clear the planet?"

The answer is not with what they believe, but in the system which they use to control, which is brainwashing; the implanting of false memories and other control mechanisms.

As long as there are vulnerable, gullible people whose skill set or income does not allow for doing searches on the web, Scientology will have an audience. This includes celebrities caught in their bubble.

Scientology also requires a person who is SUSCEPTIBLE to Scientology's particular techniques of brainwashing, a person who is able to trust, and believe in certain common maxims without question, such as "you get what you pay for."

Scientology is so absorbing and controlling that apparently it "works" for some people who were previously caught up in drug addiction or abusive patterns of other kinds, which for them were even worse.

Kirstie Alley substituted her drug addiction for a Scientology addiction. Tom Cruise substituted his lack of personality (aside from a drive to succeed) for a Scientology "save the planet" personality. Cruise also substituted his lack of education and being well-read, for the "knowingness" of Scientology, and that he is an authority on the mind, and the dangers of psychiatry etc., and they are the ONLY ones who can...

John Travolta overcame some of his insecurities and hid his gay streak with Scientology. How can you top what it has done for him? He drives a 707! What do you drive?

(That's the Scientology sales angle....In my case, I drive something less polluting and energy consuming.)

Since Scientologists are too restricted or inarticulate to describe what Scientology is, or what they believe, they are all sales people, and Scientology is just propaganda and sales pitch.

In the age of the web, it would collapse like a house of cards in a hurricane, if it weren't for the money they've amassed. The American Religious Identification Survey shows their number in the U.S. halved in a seven year period ending in 2008. In the last two year period, with the advent of video on the web being pervasive, and the new ex-members who are speaking out, they probably crashed even faster.

So, instead of the millions they claim, the are really down to less than 50,000 worldwide.

One other important aspect of the web. For decades, Scientology survived because all those excellent programs exposing them, came and went. People didn't see them. Now the web has brought back this exposure in all its glory, including out-of-print books by Miller and Cooper, the TIME cover story by Behar, and interviews and lectures by the big liar himself, L. Ron Hubbard, making a perfect fool of himself in an old interview called THE SHRINKING WORLD OF L. RON HUBBARD.

It's quite a show, watching the information age collide with Scientology quackery, with their lies built on lies, selling lies.
Flag 7 people liked this. Like ReplyReply Rygo 2 days ago

It seems Michael Bywater has swallowed Scientology's inflated figures regerading their own success to make his estimate of it as "the most successful religion since..." Nor was Hubbard a "civil engineer." The real story of Scientology is told by its victims, and they are given scant attention in this piece.
Flag Like ReplyReply Ltaubes 2 days ago

Did Michael Bywater really write the article after his own death? Or was it after L.Ron's death? Sorry to nitpick. Lionheart
Flag 1 person liked this. Like ReplyReply Gordonjameskerr 2 days ago

This has to be one of the worst articles I have ever read in New Humanist. Sanctimonious crap. Scientology is obviously errant nonsense and there are plenty of dark conspiracies that could have been uncovered and tales of lives ruined but instead the author chose to content himself with meaningless word games and cryptic comments. Apart from being full of factual errors e.g. "last really successful religion?" what about Sikhism (15th Century ) Mormonism (19th Century) or Baha'is, 20th Century commonly regarded as the most widespread religion in the world after Christianity with around 6-7 million members in 142 countries) Encylopedia Britannica. Next time do some research and save the cheap quips. Your readers deserve better.
Flag 1 person liked this. Like ReplyReply nancy s 2 days ago

That was some baaaaaad writing.
Flag 1 person liked this. Like ReplyReply Dave 2 days ago

"The last really successful religion – the only successful one for 1,340 years, since Islam kicked off with the Qur’an." Totally absurd. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, now each numbering over then million, have grown faster than any religions in history except for Christianity between AD 60 and AD 300. Scientology has relatively few members and faces a substantial ceiling on its growth because of the expense and difficulty of becoming a member.
Flag Like ReplyReply Dave 2 days ago in reply to Dave

("then million" should be "ten million," sorry)
Flag Like ReplyReply Sal 2 days ago in reply to Dave

Falun Gong's numbers would be impressive if they were not ruthlessly persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party and government.
Flag Like ReplyReply Skunk 2 days ago

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is far larger and far more powerful and also within the time frame discussed.
Flag Like ReplyReply Moulton 1 day ago

Does Bokononism count as a modern religion invented by a 20th Century writer of popular fiction?
Flag Like ReplyReply stevemeikle 1 day ago

I know the difference between manifest bollox and apparent bollox. And Hubbards bollox is manifest. That of Jesus Christ is only apparently bollox, and only apparently so to those prejudiced in certain ways. You may demur that that is what all religious cranks say, but I dont have to pay vast sums of money to another crank to have my mind cleansed (or is that brain washed). My God refuses to be bribed with money or anything else.

I read the expose of Hubbard's fraud,a book called "barefaced messiah" some years ago. I believed it

Oh yes, my spiritual master, Jesus Christ, is alive. LRon is not. So I am well occupied and thus totally immune to the bollox that Hubbard and his accolytes preach and demand money for
Flag 1 person liked this. Like ReplyReply chaszz 1 day ago

Someone wants me to pay to read garbage like this article? They'd have to pay ME for me to consider reading any other junk by this "writer."
Flag Like ReplyReply Michael Bywater 1 day ago

@everyone who complained about the omission of Sikhs and Mormons: quite right. It was late and I was so immersed in L Ron I forgot to consult my Boys' Book Of Comparative Religious History, which is VERY VERY RARE for me. On the other hand, I don't think it really invalidates anything else, certainly not as Mr Hudson says, destroys "any credibility" I or, in particular "this publication" has on the subject of religion. If destroying a publication's credibility was as easy as writing a piece with an error in it, then we'd all be writing for the religious papers and the Daily Mail (except for chaszz, whose wit -- that trope of putting scare quotes around the word "writer" to show that he thinks I'm a fool is just so fucking original I'm kicking myself I didn't think it up).

@CrocodileMD -- If it's known as THE Course (as opposed to A Course) then I expect I'll be writing about it -- oops, sorry, hello chaszz, thought you'd gone back to your copy of the Mail, what I mean of course is "writing" about it -- in Due Course. In the meantime I'm sure it's really amazing and all that, but isn't it a bit like putting "His New Bestseller" on the cover of a new book? I mean, they don't know yet, do they? It might be a terrible flop, like Mithraism (bring it on, Mithraists). But A Course In Miracles? That self-destructs, miracles being local suspensions of universal laws, and one of the laws of universal law is that we don't get local exceptions.

Oh, and @chaszz? That was irony about the scare quotes. You know: "irony".
Flag 4 people liked this. Like ReplyReply Jon 1 day ago

This is a pretty good piece considering that, according to the headline, its author has been dead for 26 years. Well done.
Flag Like ReplyReply Norman Moss 1 day ago

I used to read Astounding Science Fiction back in the 1940s, when I was a schoolboy living in New York, and continued to subscribe to it when I got back to England, The one other regular reader I knew in England was completely taken in by dianetics, and I went to a couple of meetings of pre-clears, and even had the idea of writing about it, and took a photographer along who took some photographs of people writhing about as they recalled being a speremi wriggling its way up into the egg. My friend went on to scientology. I could not understand it.
i an an atheist but I don't believe all religion is a lot of crap. Religions are built around myths that have profound spiritual significance. I think scientology is a lot of crap. Its myths are not even good science fiction.
Incidentally, there have been a lot of new religions since Mohammed came up with his idea, most of them, admittedly, off-shoots of Christianity or Islam. Just for instance, Christian Science. My mother was a Christian Scientist for a while and I went to Christian Science sunday school. (I also think Christian Science is a lot of crap).
I enjoyed the article, Michael Bywater. Maybe wwe'll run into each other at Mount Pleasant one day.
Norman Moss
Flag Like ReplyReply Jhoodjr1 1 day ago

I know a man who actually saw the chair that Mary Baker Eddy sat in in Boston (of which they have a nice oil portrait). He asked to sit in it and nearly gave the attendant apoplexy. I think Christian Science ranks right up there.
Flag Like ReplyReply Andy 1 day ago in reply to Jhoodjr1

I haven't seen anything in this thread that would support the notion that Scientology is a whit less cranky than various forms of Christianity, or Islam, for that matter. It might even be less so--my understanding is that Hubbard's maxims include the proposition that the individual has a sovereign right to define for himself what data he finds true for himself. That's a lot etter than demanding one recite a string of metaphysical assertions like the Nicean Creed, is it not?
Flag Like ReplyReply Josh Strike 1 day ago

How dare you insult RELIGION! Is nothing sacred?! haha.
Dontcha know, as soon as it's written down in language unfamiliar to the common man, insulting it becomes apostasy? The "big insight" that LRonHitler, Joe Smith, Mo-fat and John the Freak had was that if you spell out your ludicrous story in "fancy-sounding" language, the likes of Sarah Palin will pick up a shotgun to defend it -- because lacking literacy, they assume that the most highfalutin sounding book is the only right one, gosh darnit.
Flag Like ReplyReply jsmitten 1 day ago

Still laughing my cap off!... first at the article itself, now even more so at all the comments from people who wouldn't get something funny if it poked them in the eye with a sharp stick.

Of course, (and at the same time... that would be, simultaneously) as an ex-post-Mormon, I am soooo offended at being left out of the discussion. I feel like my entire personal history has been ignored and denigrated. I'm not sure how I'll recover... I might have to turn to psychoanalysis.
Flag 1 person liked this. Like ReplyReply JG 1 day ago

Since the late 1950's, there have been millions of dollars invested by the U.S. government (and the special folks who coax them to do so) in mind control / social control techniques. There is a book by Dr. Fred Bell that covers this information in detail. From universities, to research institutions to government agencies, many were involved with drugs and voodoo and later electromagnetic technologies.

L. Ron, despite his wackiness and I know very little about his antics, was considered to be successful with his own take on mind control techniques and the CIA planted moles in order to learn and discredit him.

Stepping back 50 years to pre-Nazi Germany, Dr. Brand was the creator of the I.Q. test whose efforts remain present today in various tests that are shockingly accurate including one known as the 16pf. Had I paid attention to the characterization of my ex wife's results to her MBA required pf16 testing, I would have saved myself years of trouble and thousands of dollars given that selfishness and lack of appreciation were the overriding behavioral traits.

My point, scientology itself is a bizarre word meaning the study of science which is akin to biological feedback, that is, reason feeding back into it's own scientific reasoning methods. Similar actions usually short circuit or create holographic effigies that one cannot discern as within or without. he word itself wreaks of mind control. I live in LA and recently drove past the huge facility as well one of the 'testing centers' in Hollywood. Though both were vacant, we know the newbies are there blank staring at something of hollow value while writing their credit cards numbers on the application. It just feels so good to be loves in this cut throat city. They just didn't realize it's a ghost of their former selves offering the very expensive virtual hug.

I think L Ron was onto something truly effective, as far as mind control goes, and his methods give new meaning to a personal god it would seem and anyone who joins truly deserved to be there given the brick wall to the forehead obviousness of it all. Most Christian churches are not less guilty of faith tolls (ask a Templar) and in the East, one is lucky if they retain their own independent soul. All religions mediate a personal relationship with God which for me it's a given and that our church is in our chests and our worship is in our ever unfolding actions. Don't judge the judgers folks, but as well keep your head about ya'. I think we are all about to learn that we are not alone in the universe and L. Ron's version is a comedic preface offering what other religions do not if only Black Op parishioners and free accounting services!
Flag Like ReplyReply Guest 1 day ago

I'm no Scientologist but one of the best and most useful courses I ever took was the Basic Communications Course with which they lure people in through the door. If it didn't work, Scientology would be history.
I don't understand why TR3 Bullbaiting and those other prerequisite Training Routines haven't been secularized and widely exploited by other churches, criminal rehabilitation and mental health organizations.
It's powerful but simple stuff that makes big changes in people's lives.
Flag Like ReplyReply F EX Gift Baskets 1 day ago

With all due respect, I am not an Atheist or Humanist as the term is preferred today and years ago I read some of L. Ron Hubbard's 'Dianetics'. The only conclusion that I made after awhile was that it had some entertainment value, but I wasn't about to pay for my salvation. In the meantime, the only other growing force of faith besides Islam to be reckoned with will be ecotheology as a global civil religion. I am not a follower, but I cannot ignore or dismiss the green wave that is coming.
Flag 1 person liked this. Like ReplyReply Huston 21 hours ago

Regarding the criticism of the Book of Mormon's "literary competence" as "a feeble pastiche of the miraculous language of the translators who produced the King James Bible," I wouldn't expect any random reader to be familiar with the current state of Book of Mormon studies, but making a statement like that does expose one's ignorance of the field.

One easy, introductory-level survey of the literary value of the text is available here:

Of course, a scholarly analysis of the Book of Mormon's literary status does not help support any of its factual claims, much less establish the authenticity of the document as an ancient artifact. That objective, however, has also been exhaustively investigated, with the evidence found favoring legitimacy: Anyone who wishes to have an informed opinion about the Book of Mormon should at least peruse resources such as these, and examine them carefully.

Merry Christmas!
Flag Like ReplyReply RCTnPB 18 hours ago

Back around 1969 I was told that Scientology had a process wherein you could experience "leaving your body." I joined and did not/could not leave my body, as advertised. I tried real hard. I was looking for proof that we are not our bodies, but immortal beings, occupying our bodies. Disappointed, I left Scientology, still unconvinced that my body and I are two different entities, however I did find a great deal of useful information in some of Ron's writings, particularly the now out of print, "Problems Of Work." I still use processes and techniques contained in that book. I also recommend Hubbard's Communication "ARC Triangle" as a very useful tool when communication breaks down and you need to know why.

As far as new religions go, my non-fiction book, "THE BIG BLUE SCHOOLHOUSE, A Revolutionary View Of God, Man And The Meaning Of Life" discusses religions and their purpose. There is much more to the book, of course, (available printed or as a pdf download on, and at most internet book stores), but the section dealing with religions boils down to this: All religions work and are created to answer the 3 eternal questions that every thoughtful person wonders about at some time in their life, namely: Where did I come from? What am I doing here? and Where do I go when I die? If the groups dogma answers those questions, believably or not, I would contend it is a religion. As a Rational Deist, I believe God has no interest whatsoever in which religion I believe and practice, and I include Atheism and Ecoism among the religions.

As for the above article by Michael Bywater, I found it almost as mind numbing as trying to get through Hubbard's "Dianetics," which is saying a lot.
Flag Like ReplyReply jovicevic goran 13 hours ago

Like in case of all questions wich divided people (pro & contra) our time and our urge for straight answers in short lines, darkenig (or disabling) possiblity to comprehend true image of principles lying under upper-coat of new religion or "messiah" motives itself. Technology era and ever chaninig reality of present day world need answers so badly - solutions we could not produced so far. Scientology, life and literature of it's fuonder is part of the world effort to understand it's own nature and provide some of essential answers. Even when they are wrong they are better than Chirstmas day wanders.
Flag Like ReplyReply Alan Brown 10 hours ago

Wow. Wacko. It makes you rethink the whole "need" for belief
Flag Like ReplyReply Murgatroyd 9 hours ago

OMG, thank you for this hilarious article that puts my own feelings exactly into words. I love when that happens. Plus, it's so fun to read all those different words for "bunk." Do carry on, please.
Flag 2 people liked this. Like ReplyReply