Sunday, 31 August 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 25-31/8/14

Hi blankers,

No talk this week.

No time.

I wrote something else within it :-P

Check back, mid-week, LOL

But i shall leave you with this, to fill the space...

Sponsored Remakes of Successes:
(Guess the sponsors)

Die Another Daewoo

Dulux And His Amazing Technicolor Undercoat

Persil White And The Seven Dwarves

Mothercare On Elm Street

North By Natwest

ICI Claudius


And Some Hyped Re-makes Of Prior Successes:

(for modern, desensitized audiences)

Quadruple Indemnity

The Post-Graduate

A Whole Flock Of Them Flew over The Cuckoo's Nest

To Drive Mockingbirds Extinct
Schindler's Encyclopedia

Singin' In The Sea

Snow White And As Many Dwarves As She Could Lay Her Hands On

The Umpteenth Man
(Starring Orson Bloodyamazingactuallyes)


Saturday the 6th of September will be the twentieth anniversary of one of now-dead Harold Camping's failed Armageddon predictions. To be honest, if i mentioned every apocalyptic prediction ever, i'd have more than one for every week of the year. In fact, i'd have more than several for every day of the year!

In other news:

Evidence has been found that suggests that the Hallucigenia genus of animals, that lived in the seas of the Cambrian, 500 million years ago, might have extant relatives. Hallucigenia earned its name through, well, looking like the FSM made it while on funky fungus! But it seems there are morphological similarities between it and the absolutely-gorgeous modern-day velvet worms, which are thought to have retained their modern morphology (shape) for hundreds of millions of years. If true, then that's a big bough of the metaphorical evolutionary tree drawn into the diagram - velvet worms' ancestors are thought to link all modern arthropods - that's everything from spiders to tardigrades (water bears).
Hallucigenia and velvet worms' most significant similarity is in their claws, which have a layered structure, meaning they don't lose them completely after moulting. This discovery could only come about through the very rare process of soft-body preservation, which depends on highly anoxic conditions - low oxygen, which fuels body decay. Because these conditions are rare, so are fossils with soft body parts preserved.
{Follow the "absolutely-gorgeous" link to see David Attenborough's bit on them}

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is an Islamist organisation that wants to 'share its faith' with the whole of the rest of the world. That's the Christianismianismists' euphemism for indoctrinating all of you suckers and subverting your ethics with bigoted dogma. You might have heard of ISIS, but have you heard this? They have decreed that they will forbid the education of both Philosophy and Chemistry (presumably additionally to Evolutionary Biology) because “they do not fit in with the laws of god”. In other words, fantasised gobbledy-gook that always agrees with you and immunises you from having to accept any kind of doubt and/or criticism. In places like the UK, it's quite easy to find compartmentalised superstitionists who attempt to con their peers into thinking that superstitions like religions are compatible with science. Well, i repudiate their claim - superstition will inevitably come into conflict with science, with every new item of information learned, that is contradicted by superstition. It should, therefore, come as no surprise to learn that superstitious pseudosciences, such as those that exist within religious dogma, inevitably result in anti-scientific movements. This is just one example.

A Moron woman has joined the long list of religionists who present themselves as evidence of the utterly arbitrary nature of bigotry. She claims to have been kicked out of the Moron Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) for effusively campaigning for women to be allowed into their priesthood: the upper echelons of an arbitrary organisation, existant only to facilitate 'closeness' to an arbitrary fictional deity called [insert name here]. But let's look at the facts: in the modern world, which are the organisations that struggle most with accepting external moralising pressure? It's religious ones. Even in the UK, it's the same. Where Christianity is dying its "slow, whiny death" as Johann Hari called it 6 years ago. It's still whining.
And which organisations still struggle with the 'controversial' nature of maybe, possibly, potentially, sometime in the future, if we can bring ourselves to do it... let women have a job? And a job that doesn't even involve heavy lifting or writing their name in the snow! Which organisations struggle with this and explicitly state their reluctance? Religious ones. The Cult of England recently conceded that maybe women can make female bigots bishops as well as male ones, overturning their 2012 rejection. But it wasn't the laity (with lots of women in) that pushed for this to happen - it was the laity that overturned the pale-and-pasty men in frocks last time around. It's women who are holding women back, in sexist organisations!
When i finally get around to filling out my essays on the subject (set to go to 5+ parts, potentially!) i'll be able to expound on this further, but suffice to say, for now, it's all about perceived social roles, and a faith-based unwillingness to accept rational criticism of them. Whether you dogmatise that women should not have a certain job, or that men and women should be equal in number, or that women alone should have a certain job (and no men), you are being just as bigoted. It's all arbitrary. And it seems extremely short-sighted to complain about sexism within religious organisations, as if it's one that can be fixed while preserving the religion itself.

Yet another blunder by clothing-design company Zara leaves a lot of people scratching their heads about how people can make extraordinary mistakes. But the key is down to the subjectivity of design. It is Art, after all. A swastika might look like Nazism to you. As might a black-and-white striped shirt with a star on it (reminiscent of designs popularly forced on prisoners). But there is also a swastika in the tiles at Upminster London Underground Station. Would you have the floor torn up? It has nothing to do with Nazism, as it was put in before Nazism existed. Such 'blunders' can occur in other contexts: "Coca-Cola" for a famous example, in Chinese phonetics, sounds like "bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax". Funny, but hardly as unfortunate as the French cheese brand 'Kiri' which means 'penis' in Persian! These are all blunders not of design choice, but of inadequate awareness of the cultural context into which the product is marketed. So there. :-P

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'NASA | Scientists Create First Full 3D Model of Eta Carinae Nebula [HD]'

'Formula E | Fully Charged'
"Shot over the last 12 months, a bit of behind the scenes and an introduction to the new all electric Formula E racing season starting next month in Beijing. Just in case you're interested, the cars do zero to 60 in 3 seconds with a top speed of 150 miles an hour."

'Golden Rain'
This is not porn. Do watch it. It's awesome chemistry!

'RHNB-Liquid Nitrogen (Ft. NurdRage)'

'Why are Stars Star-Shaped?'

'For Sanitys Sake!'
Oh wow, this is amazing. Nerdgasms. Give me more, Thunder :-D

'NASA | REEL Science - Ice and Lasers [HD]'
"In July, 2014, the three winning groups of the REEL Science Communication contest participated in a remote video production workshop with NASA communication experts and scientists to create feature videos about NASA Earth science missions. The high school students worked with scientists from the Terra, Aqua, and ICESat-2 missions."

'ALS Liquid Nitrogen "Ice Bucket Challenge" (Ft. Muhammad Qureshi)'

'"King Of Awkward Conversations" Tales Of Mere Existence'
...wait, wait, i have something to say about that... oh, well, never mind...

'When Adults Act Like Kids'

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: bottomry --  the leasing of a ship's bottom, usually in order to pay for repairs when the owner is not around. When the ship's cargo is involved, it's called 'respondentia'

Expression Of The Week: 'all fur coat and no knickers' -- having a superficial presentation of quality, that belies the reality (and also the title of an episode of 'The Detectives'. It's a great show. Do watch it :-D )

Regenesised Word Of The Week: wimborne -- an unfortunate juxtaposition of editorial copy, or images or adverts in newspapers, or on billboards, etc. For more information, see in 'non-contemporary stuff'

Quote Of The Week: "I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe... Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those... moments... will be lost in time, like [small cough] tears... in... rain. Time to die..."

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

'La Funambule' (The tightrope)'

'Everyone saying that tweets are not long enough...'

'Standing Ovation'

SADLY, Feedback must record the passing of a favourite academic author and faithful correspondent. Cleo Borzoi's copious output includes the classic "Harnessing angular kinetic energy from colossal cloned Rodentia: re-envisioning the hamster wheel model in green energy management" (described here on 15 June 2013).
On 11 June, the day on which she passed away, Cleo received an urgent query from the organisers of the 3rd Annual World Congress of Aquaculture and Fisheries in Dalian, China, about her planned presentation "Aquadog: Use of trained border collies to herd fish and protect them in vulnerable marine aquaculture facilities". Her literary executor, Phillip Clapham, notes that "the only thing stupider than a conference accepting a ridiculous paper authored by a dog is a conference accepting a ridiculous paper authored by a dead dog. Fear not, Cleo will live on!"
28 Jun

WE congratulate Peter Verity for asking: "is Feedback channelling Aleister Crowley?" We noted that "the idea of a metaphor without foundation just needs a name. Translating that description into Greek seems to add gravitas: 'athelemic metaphors', we think" (26 April).
We had asked an online translation service for the Greek for "foundation". We may be suffering late-onset dyslexia: the transliteration of its current response is "themelio". Or were we misled by our desire to create an antonym to the late occultist Crowley's "law of Thelema" – "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law"? Whoops.
28 Jun

ONE of the most widely used metaphors without foundation, says David Holdsworth, is "lowest common denominator", which is invariably used to refer to the highest common factor. Considering whether to set out an explanation for the hypothetical puzzled reader, while not requiring the construction of an extension to this page, we found ourselves between a rock and a hard place.
Investigation of that phrase led to its likely foundations in the history of a bitter mine strike in Arizona in 1917: see
We instead leave the arithmetic as an exercise for the reader and suggest a name for the phenomenon that David mentions: "wrong".
28 Jun

SOLAR energy is part of the mix we need to avert climate catastrophe (21 June, p 32). Improved efficiency may be on the cards (page 42). But what of the risk that solar cells suck sun?
Four readers alerted us to a story appearing on a website called National Report in May: "Solar Panels Drain the Sun's Energy, Experts Say", it says. "Is this the biggest load of tosh you've ever come across?" asks David Cross.
"Scientists at the Wyoming Institute of Technology, a privately owned think tank," the National Report specifies, "discovered that energy radiated from the sun isn't merely captured in solar panels, but that energy is directly physically drawn from the sun by those panels, in a process they refer to as 'forced photovoltaic drainage'."
The myth-busters at dug out a 2013 disclaimer in which the National Report announced that "Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental." Indeed, when we looked the site was also promoting a report by the alleged Wyoming Institute on "chemtrails" (22 June 2013).
Feedback rather fears that that won't stop people believing it, or some wanting it to be true. We'll try to keep a watch out for this meme resurfacing.
5 Jul

Alan Branford's new modem announces that it "features advanced security for your piece of mind". He feared a pact with Mephistopheles, but happily still had a whole mind after plugging it in.
5 Jul

SUMMER is getting into swing in the northern hemisphere, prompting a whole new round of fruitloopery. First, we regret the wide coverage given to claims by a Colorado company called Osmosis. As the Daily Mail summarised them: "World's first DRINKABLE sun cream goes on sale – and just a teaspoon will offer three hours' protection".
"But does it work?" asks Jacqueline Houtman. Let's see. Osmosis founder Dr. Ben Johnson told the Denver Business Journal that the so-called Harmonized H2O UV Neutralizer "is made by manipulating radio waves that naturally occur in water to give them UV-cancelling properties, then duplicating that process hundreds of thousands of times, and bottling that water up".
He's lost us there.
5 Jul

NEXT – has the sun made you sleepy? Do you need some get up and go? But have you resolved to cut down on those fattening drinks? Then clearly you are the target market for the "Zero calorie energy drink", a poster for which puzzled Nick Daggit.
We surmise that Nick does something rational for a living and doesn't appreciate the magic of marketing, for he observes that "Since calories are how energy is measured, it seems unfortunate to call it an energy drink."
5 Jul

NOW, after a day in the sun you may fancy a stiff drink. But it's such a bore schlepping heavy bottles around. Perhaps powdered alcohol might help? Not yet. The US government's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the labels for seven flavours of "Palcohol" in April, and then changed its collective mind. There is controversy about possible Palcohol abuse.
Feedback was concerned about how it could work. We were rather surprised to discover it's possible; but it may not taste good. Likely recipes use cyclodextrins, which are also used to mask flavours.
What is more, we seem to remember "instant booze" being one of those stories that comes around once every decade or so, much as "videophones" used to (until they finally happened, not as predicted but as a side effect of mobile technology). Can anyone refresh our memory?
5 Jul
{Loyal readers might remember that Thunderf00t did a comprehensive admonishment of palcohol's claimed properties, but he preumably wasn't aware that the idea comes around every 10 years, or he would have mentioned it}

LAST [paragraph] we mentioned our recollection that "instant booze" was one of those stories that comes around once every decade or so. While checking what the ingredients of the powdered alcohol product Palcohol might be, we discovered that this is almost exactly true.
In 1964, one Harold Bode filed a US patent for "an alcoholic dry beverage powder", which focused on encapsulating flavours in modified starches but also produced an alcoholic powder.
In 1974, William Mitchell and William Seidel applied for a series of patents for "alcohol-containing dextrin powder". These were granted, and assigned to the General Foods Corporation. One specifies that when "blended with one package... of Holland House Bloody Mary Mix... the resultant cloudy alcohol beverage was judged to be of excellent quality".
Then in 2004 and 2005 there was a bit of a fuss about a German company (since disappeared from the web) marketing such a product. Does anyone have any sightings from 1984 or 1994?
2 Aug

AFTER the sun and a sangria, perhaps some poetry?
"Walnut door clip is also nourish the brain over it? Slip squatting.
"Unconsciously big belly, have a child no father. Flower Bucket."
These lines come from Feedback's archive of spam email headlines, courtesy of a machine translation from the original traditional Chinese.
5 Jul

CLIMATE change is of great concern to Trevor Dudley. He appreciates that global warming will result in a rise in sea level, and that Venice will flood more often. But how can Majestic Wine stores be privy to precise information on the timing and extent of the effects, so far withheld from us mortals? How else to explain the email the company sent him, headed "1 Week Left! 25% Off Italy"?
12 Jul

Tom Ellis notes bags of salad labelled "just natural little leaves – no artificial stuff, no GMO or weird science". What products might contain, and proudly proclaim, "weird science"?
12 Jul
{Absolutely true. I checked the link and downloaded the page :-D }

WE have reported a coastguard emergency phone in Cornwall, UK, labelled "Emergency phone 999 only" but bearing just three buttons, labelled "1", "2" and "3".
The county of Kent goes one better, for some senses of "better". Jeffrey Borinsky sends a photo of a phone on Walmer beach with the instruction "Lift up handset. Dial 999," and just one "1" button.
12 Jul

Bringing dark to our lightness
BEING a candidate in a local council election must be demoralising, if only for hearing so many excuses for being ignored while door-knocking: "I donate by direct debit", "we're atheists" and so on. But Frank Cross tells us of residents eagerly buttonholing a candidate on the doorsteps of Bromley in the south-eastern penumbra of London.
That might have been pleasing, had the residents not been keen to protest about new high-tech light-emitting-diode streetlights – on the grounds that they, among other things, are "dangerous", "bring people out in rashes" and "send them blind".
A quick search reveals the headline "Do 'environmentally friendly' LED lights cause BLINDNESS?" As always, the question mark begs the answer "of course not". (Parenthetically, does anyone have a counterexample to this rule about headlines?)
19 Jul
{Guess where the headline comes from. Yup - the Daily Fail - so i'm not linking it here :-P }

According to the Observer newspaper "Plants use quantum theory to harvest energy". Richard Spragg says "This has been on the cards since the first horse discovered Newton's laws of motion"
19 Jul
{Note to hacks: 'discovered' is not synonymous with 'invented' :-D }

ONE OF OUR favourite paper titles is: "Recursive fury: conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation." Stephan Lewandowsky tells the story at "Some 18 months ago I published a paper with colleagues... that reported a survey of visitors to climate blogs which established a small, but significant, association between the endorsement of conspiracy theories and the rejection of several scientific propositions, including the fact [of] warming from greenhouse gases."
You can probably guess what happened next. People who reject science deluged Lewandowsky and his colleagues with complaints that the allusion to "conspiracist ideation" was a conspiracy: a lovely example of a phenomenon known as "recursion". They were incandescent at being depicted as exhibiting what we shall call "non-standard mentation".
In the nature of recursion, of course the wonderfully titled follow-up paper attracted second-order fury. Sadly, the journal Frontiers in Psychology then withdrew it, explaining that its "investigation did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study [but did] determine that the legal context is insufficiently clear". In other words they feared being sued. You can still read the follow-up paper, though, at

19 Jul

WE LEARN something every day of our lives. But is that the limit? Bob Holmes reports a synopsis of a US Public Broadcasting Service television show on the teenage brain – that contains the helpful headline "Most learning takes place throughout our lives". He had been looking forward to learning quantum mechanics after his death.
19 Jul

Jonathan Wallace reports that he looks after a Facebook page for a butterfly conservation group. Having problems logging in, he tried Facebook's help centre and was directed to a "Bugs and Known Issues" page. Under "log in issues" there was a link entitled "I can't log in" which seemed to describe the problem. Clicking on it took him to "Review the known login issues" which took him straight back. We believe he finally escaped the loop.
19 Jul

WHILE checking last week's column, we idly wondered whether "Tweet" is a trademark. The answer, of course, is yes. On 27 May 2010, Twitter gained a European trademark registration for use of the word – when it relates to the firm's well-known primary activities.
Reading up on trademarks may be seen as evidence that Feedback really, really needs to get out more. But following the trail to the bitter end has its pay-off. This comes in the shape of a pending application from Twitter, at that runs to about 9400 words wanting "Tweet" to be trademarked for more than 750 uses in 16 classes, from which we select entirely at random: "patches and plugs for repairing vehicle tyres; carnival costumes; corsets; knickers; pens; and pencils".
This bold trademark application has not yet been granted by the examiner, so use "tweet" – with wild abandon and in a variety of contexts – while you still can.
26 Jul

TRAVELLING on London's Underground, Robert Harding was intrigued to see, side by side, an exhortation to "Take the Thames Path Challenge! Run, jog or walk 100 km, 50 km or 25 km..." and an advert featuring treatment for intense knee pain. He suggests that we need a name for such pairings.
Back in the day, unfortunate juxtapositions of editorial copy and images or adverts in newspapers were dubbed "Wimbornes". One Ronald Knox, a Cambridge college chaplain and detective-fiction writer – who was the subject of a biography by Evelyn Waugh – had a scrapbook of such infelicities, opening with a picture of a footballer above the caption: "Lady Wimborne, who has adopted the new windswept style of hairdressing".
Can we extend this term into the digital age?
26 Jul

FEEDBACK gains Robert Harding's approbation for our "wonderful service to the English language, naming concepts, situations or phenomena that currently do not have a concise handle". He notes that this activity itself needs a name.
The product of this activity would clearly be nomennomenclature. The previous sentence might well be nomennomennomenclature. But what would the verb be? To denominnominate?
26 Jul

FEEDBACK'S random-access piling system has thrown up Wayne Plummer's intriguing photograph of a sign in a hotel in Saffron Walden, UK. "This en-suite bathroom," it declares, "is fitted with a Saniflow toilet which will not allow alien products to pass through its system..."
Has the European Space Agency been informed of this advanced detector of extraterrestrial matter?
9 Aug

Max Lang was the first reader to forward a photo of a sign in a cycleway reading "Caution: signage in cycle way". Yes. Tautologies are true. Why, though?
9 Aug

RESPONSES to our sceptical inquiry into figures for annual consumption of toilet paper (3 May) continue to fill our virtual mailbag. Ian Buchanan follows up on an observation we quoted that "the British Army stocked toilet paper on the assumption that the soldier would use three sheets per day; the American ration was twenty-two and a half sheets" (7 June). He recalls that the British paper was the hard stuff – "thin, smooth, air and water resistant, an excellent medium for letter-writing and also escape maps for downed airmen, I believe".
Alan Chattaway concurs: "It's not hard to see how three sheets would do the job of 22.5 sheets of fluff pulp." Robert Cailliau observes that US paper is still "terribly thin", whereas Swiss paper "is thick and soft, and that's where we buy ours, though we live in France". Then Brian Darvell chips in with the observation that in Hong Kong the paper is very absorbent: he has commonly found a roll on restaurant tables for general mopping-up use.
9 Aug

MEANWHILE we must face questions about toilet paper nomenclature. Stefan Bojczuk is puzzled by the unit of rate of use in the New York Times article we cited: "rolls per capita per year"(3 May). "Surely rolls per anus per annum?" he suggests.
9 Aug

THE legality of toilet paper leads us to Noel Cramer's "amusement, visiting the Science Museum in London in the early 1960s, to see on each sheet of paper the printed words 'Government Property' ". That led him to "steal" part of a roll – "which has unfortunately gone lost since". That reminds Feedback of acquiring some of the same stock while making an appearance at the Royal Courts of Justice in the 1970s. There is a statute of limitations, isn't there?
9 Aug

FINALLY, and returning to matters mathematical, several readers were suitably puzzled by Todd Moody's definition of "ineffable numbers" as "the real numbers that cannot be individually named by any finite string of symbols in any language" (14 June). Tony Kline "sat for far too long contemplating the sentence 'nothing cannot be named in any language' until finally escaping from paradox by summoning the non-existent ghost of Bertrand Russell and quietly strangling it." Todd refers, of course, to Russell's paradox, concerning the barber who shaves all the villagers who do not shave themselves.
Jeremy Colman and Ken Zetie give essentially the same argument for the number of such numbers being zero. As Ken puts it: "Suppose there are two. Then you could name them 'the first ineffable number' and 'the second ineffable number'."
Feedback thinks this may be an example of "second-order naming" and cheating. But looking for discussion of this topic takes us no further than the works of the late-Roman philosopher and theologian Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius and a headache. Help?
9 Aug