Sunday, 29 March 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 23-29/3/15

Hi purple people eaters,

Well, this looks interesting!

'James Bond SPECTRE Full Length Trailer (2015)'

{Psst... Bill's not going to be released until the 21st of August now. Mysterious workings, i suppose :-/ }

'Barry Cryer's 80th birthday cake'

Barry had a #1 single in Finland, in 1958, with a song called 'Purple People Eater' which was originally by Sheb Woolley. Due to legal problems, his record wasn't released in Scandinavia, and that's where Barry Cryer stepped in. According to Barry, it only got to #1 because they gave away a free car with every record :-D

'Barry Cryer - Purple People Eater'


The 23rd of March marks the 50th anniversary of the first crewed Gemini flight, which took three astronauts on 3 orbits of the Earth. The Gemini program was a stepping stone to the later Apollo missions and their trips to the Moon.

The 28th March marks Earth Hour, which was instigated by WWF (the World Wildlife Fund) to raise awareness of the subject of climatic change, and our changing environment. 2015's Earth Hour has been described as the biggest yet, with 7000 cities switching off lights, to reveal the darkness beyond.

In other news:

Geologists have found the largest impact zone on/in the planet, in Australia, indicating an impact four times the size of the one that changed the climate enough that it wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs, flying reptiles (my kin), and the marine reptiles! The crater was buried a long time ago, but the remaining camber left in the bedrock is 400 km wide. The geology also shows that the asteroid broke into two 10 km leviathans, before it hit the Earth's surface, in what's now Central Australia. The geological layer that the impact zone exists in, dates to 300-600 million years ago, so the impact must have occurred at least 300 million years ago. All known impacts close to this size have caused huge extinction events.

Last Friday, a much smaller asteroid - NEO 2014 YB35 - that measured less than 1 km across, had been 'predicted' to skim past the Earth. It actually passed a mere 11.7 lunar distances - that's 4.5 million kilometres - from the Earth. When you hear that something dramatic's going to happen, maybe look it up on a website that might actually know, before grabbing your tins of beans and running for the bunker!

Recent news has had a lot about colour-changing animals: from emotional chameleons to predatory fish. Well, here's an amphibian that does something similar: it's a frog that doesn't change its colour, but does change its shape, to mimic the material it's sitting on. When on a smooth surface, that collects moisture from the rainforest humidity, they adopt a similarly smooth, shiny appearance; and when they move to rougher, matt-look ground, where the surface they're on is less smooth, they distort their skin to break up its outline and merge into the background. The frog species - Pristimantis mutabilis - or the mutable rainfrog, which lives in the Ecuadorian Andes, can change its appearance within minutes, and is not the only species to do it. Already-known species can shape-shift too, but because they do so, it's difficult to tell whether you're looking at a different species, or the same one in different form! This means the number of species in the area might have been inadvertently overestimated.

The peoples of North America, 13300 years ago, it seems, consumed both horses and camels. FYI: camels evolved in North America, and migrated to other regions of the world, where they remain today, and are now associated with. As a further reflection on our modern culture: the consumption of horses and camels as food is widely considered to be monstrous, even where eating cows and baby sheep is fine. Ultimately, homo sapiens is an opportunistic species, that will eat whatever it has to, to survive. Cultural tastes and distastes, however, are arbitrary.

Fresh observations using the APEX, SMA, and Effelberg telescopes, have ascertained that a star observed and recorded in 1670 was not actually undergoing a supernova event at all - it was the collision of two (or more) stars, which produced enough light to draw the attention of astronomers, and the name Nova Vulpeculae. Back then, of course, they didn't have submillimetre and radio wavelength receptive telescopes, and so couldn't have worked out what is known now. By observing that there was too much cool material, the modern astronomers have realised that it couldn't have been a supernova, and found that the composition matched what they would expect of a collision between multiple stars, causing the resultant mass to explode, flinging material out into space, and leaving behind a cooled remnant.

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

'The Darkness - Open Fire (Official Audio)'
Yes, that is his voice; and yes, this song is amazing :-D

'Cheating in exams taken to new levels in India'

'Convicted fraudster escaped from prison with faked bail email'

'The Pope’s latest miracle hype is really lame'
Don't forget that Pope Frank's a fraudster too. But then, he isn't as smart - he still believes in exorcism!

'Man hospitalised with arsenic poisoning after buying herbal impotence pills online'
Please don't buy herbal potions, people. You don't know what's in them, and the vendors probably don't either - they don't care about you, they just want money.

Back to the LOLly stuff, though :-D

'10 Amazing Fire Tricks!'

'How to Taxidermy a Squirrel'

'What does "Probably Cause Cancer" actually mean?'
{I like to think of it with this analogy: if something was labelled 'probably makes things wet' would you go ahead expecting wetness? That it's wetting ability is doubted, suggests that its effect size is small enough to not fret about at great expense.}

'Darwin Day 2015 Questions: #4 How does evolution explain homosexuality?'
This is very interesting. My favourite hypothesis is that we all have genetics to encode masculine attraction (to females) and feminine attraction (to males) and so other biological traits heavily influence which attractions dominate. Reproduction-prohibiting degrees of homosexuality in an individual can be seen, evolutionarily, as an affordable slip-up - one that is uncostly to the individual or to the society they're in. 5% of females expressing the same sexuality as 95% of males doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, and so the system safely perpetuates. Queerness should be seen as an opportunity for the species' multiple morphologies to better understand each other, when they are wont to segregate along sexist lines.

'Petty's Double Bottom Boat - Objectivity #12'

'east of Chernobyl and the Pripyat river: машеве (Maschewe) village & physics university'

'Starmus Festival 2014: Brian May singing "'39"'

'Where is Scandinavia?'

'Il était une fois à l'Ouest (Akim Omiri)'
{If you go to captions and then auto-translate you get subtitles arguably funnier than the sketch, lol}

'Trevor Noah - You Laugh But It's True - The UNICEF Fly'

'5 Things You Didn't Know About The UK's Electoral Past And Present'

LOL at the last one :-D

'Cassetteboy - Emperor's New Clothes rap'

Shame about the ending. Brand's such a wet, hippy prig :-/

'CRASH ZOOM: Fingered'

'Stop pooping on bike path'

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

Word Of The Week: resfeber -- a Swedish word for anticipatory excitement ahead of a journey

Expression Of The Week: 'purple patch' -- a period of great success, or good fortune e.g. "The Purple People Eater's chart success was a purple patch in Barry Cryer's musical career"; or a particularly florid length of prose

Queeneros' Fact Of The Week: Love Of My Life was played as STS 107's wake up call on January 27 2003 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. Just five days later, the spacecraft would disintegrate upon reentry into the atmosphere over Texas and Louisiana, killing all 7 astronauts on the spacecraft.

Fact Of The Week: The Western Electric Model 500 telephone was the standard Bell System phone in North America from 1950 to 1984, and is the most common telephone ever to have been produced.

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

'A Question of Perspective'

'Analogue Prototype of Angry Birds'

'Rob's Rants - Checkmate, Mr. Bond'
Very funny and insightful. Classic Rob Grant :o)

'This Seattle Street Art Only Appears When It's Raining'

It's only temporary though - its being biodegradable means it won't last; and its breakdown products are presumably going to pollute the environment. Like all of these things, they're OK in moderation.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 16-22/3/15

Hi eclipsegazers,

'Really cool time-lapse of Solar Eclipse'

'Stargazing Live'

'Sky gazers flock to remote islands for total solar eclipse'

'Millions across Britain enjoy partial solar eclipse'

'Ring of light: Total eclipse over Svalbard islands in Arctic (Images)'

And here are some properly good pictures of the eclipse, on Astronomy Picture Of The Day:

'Northern Equinox Eclipse'

'A Double Eclipse of the Sun'

Trust Thierry to get a brilliant shot of the Sun :-)

Here's someone who opened their eyes just in time to appreciate it...

A 'trained' Naturopath (generalist quack) has awoken from inculcated delusion, and 'come to the light side'... as they jestfully say.

The scales having fallen from her eyes, she's since been in contact with the people of the Science Based Medicine blog, which has a very self-explanatory name.

In the coming weeks, she'll be contributing articles on her Naturopathic 'education' and how extensively she was preached to, under the guise of medical teaching.

Far too many people think that Naturopathy is real medicine (and that being a Naturopath makes someone a trustable medical advisor) but in reality they know nothing of real biology, and have little to no commitment to standards of care, and basic respect for patients and their health.

"Her insights into the pseudoscientific medical system of naturopathy, her reasons for becoming a naturopath, her reasons for leaving naturopathy, and, most importantly, her inside knowledge of naturopathy, will provide compelling reading. Here is the first of what, we hope, are multiple posts."

It should be very interesting to hear of what goes on in the murky caves of quackery, from someone who's been on the inside. Read on, MacDuffman...

'ND Confession, Part 1: Clinical training inside and out'


On 18th March 1965 (50 years ago) Alexey Leonov became the first human being to go for a walk, in Outer Space, in microgravity. His walk lasted 12 minutes, and his life almost ended with them. His spacesuit started to inflate so that he couldn't get back through the airlock, and so he had to release air from inside his suit to shrink back down. This almost killed him from decompression sickness, but he did succeed. Well done, Alexey - another of the CCCP's many victories, in the Space Race. To see a video of him floating around, follow the link.

In other news:

Want to help find asteroids that are heading toward Earth? Well, now you can, with desktop software. I've not used it, but it looks like it works like Galaxy Zoo - you're presented with some pictures, and you have to identify whether there's an asteroid in it.

Did you notice that solar storm? No? It happened on Sunday the 15th, and could have dealt huge amounts of damage to electrical infrastructure that modern economies are dependent upon. Fortunately, it just about missed Earth, and the ISS too, only minorly increasing visible aurorae. Phew!

This shot of the Sun by the SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) taken on the 16th of March, shows two coronal holes (where the corona is thinner and cooler than usual) and a highly-active shiny patch on the right, where the feared solar storm came from. But boy, what a lovely picture :-)
{If you think this bit changed, it did. I edited it to make a correction of a silly error}

A Hubble image of UGC 8201. UGC 8201 is a dwarf galaxy, and so is considered well worthy of study, because they're just 'too small' to produce as many stars as they do, for so long, and yet they clearly manage it. How? Don't ask me - i don't know.

Oats, corn, carrots, and frozen peas. Got it! Apparently, it's not too good for birds to eat huge amounts of bread crumb, because it isn't anywhere near as nutritious as they make it seem when they gobble it up. If you want to introduce some variety into their diets, be the one who feeds them items on the aforementioned list. Oh, and maybe cut the carrots into little chunks, first :-P

The Icelandic State has decided to waste huge amounts of money, to placate people who believe that elves live in a rock, lying on the proposed route for a highway. And superstition doesn't effect politics? It does, but it shouldn't. Even if it is really, really popular.

The USA's FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has prepared to pay out $955,000 to consumers who were defrauded by Lane Labs-USA, through supplements sold by fake claims of health benefits. Lane Labs-USA is one of the companies profiting from the pseudoscientific claim that shark cartilage is good for people's bones, and hence osteoporosis cases. The specious premise is that 'sharks don't get cancer' so eating shark must be good for you. But sharks do get cancer. And even if they didn't, that wouldn't make consuming them curative! The money, by the way, is coming from the amount the company was fined.
{Another silly error: osteoporosis - not osteopathy - duh!}

There's been yet another study into intelligence and what might determine it, this time done in Brazil. And one of the variables tested was breastfeeding. And that was the one that made the News. But does it really show that breastfeeding makes your kid cleverer? Well, yet again, not really no. The correlation was small, and the intelligence metric was simply wrong: years of education and even IQ are not good enough measures of intelligence to determine causation. The presumption that 'breast is best' is essentially the naturalistic fallacy - there's no good reason to think that it must be innately better than formula milk, when formula milk is deliberately made to mimic it! As far as i'm concerned, the choice should be based on economics: spare your money, or spare your body? Occam's Razor makes life easier.

There's a 'conspiracy theory' that's common in the USA, and has made 400,000 people into non-citizens, many of whom into criminals, and a splattering of whom corpses. It's this: the belief that Abraham Lincoln sold the USA to make it into a corporation and made its 'citizens' slaves. Thusly, they believe themselves not to be bound by the US Constitution, and so above the Law. They are called 'Sovereign Citizens' and come in three types: Constitutional (which means they disagree with the interpretation of the Constitution), Religious (which means they think theistic dogma comes first), and Diplomatic (which means they claim to be Native Americans or diplomats of another country). They do not recognise Federal, State, or Local Laws as legitimate; they do not pay taxes (like Kent Hovind); they do not gain proper paperwork to reside or drive; and they frequently become violent when police try to apprehend them for even the most mundane of antisocial behaviours. Because of this, the FBI classifies the ~400,000 of them as domestic terrorists. It's not just religious wrongness that can make people into dangerous lunatics.

What's the best way to understand the life of a beetle? Get into its shoes, and see life as it sees it. Unfortunately, beetles don't have shoes (especially when they're Paul McCartney) so these researchers have hooked up sensing equipment into the body of a Giant Flower Beetle (it's easier when they're big) and observed it as a kind of cyborg research subject. Insects can't feel pain though, so it wasn't unduly bothered by the experience of having all its muscles' contractions tracked to see how it flew. Robobeetle, if i may call it that, won't be solving any crimes on the streets of downtown Detroit any time soon, but it might be useful for exploring areas unaccessible to humans or bulky synthetic devices. For more information, and a video, follow the link.

A colour-changing reef fish called the 'dottyback' can change its appearance to mimic surrounding fish, so that it can avoid larger predatory fish, and undermine the defence mechanisms of smaller fish that it predates on. Fish. A particular favourite of the dottyback is the damselfish, which comes in two forms: brown and yellow, to survive best in their respective habitats. Consequently, the dottyback can take the colour of either the brown or yellow forms, simultaneously undermining their defence from predators (often themselves) and sharing their camouflage. But this colour-change trick is not quick. The researchers found that it took approximately two weeks for dollyfish to change from one colour to the other, when put in with the complementary form of damselfish. To read more and watch a video about the fish, follow the link.

Why do some fungi glow? To attract the attention of insects, including beetles, flies, wasps, and ants, which assist in spreading their fungal spores around. The employment of bioluminescence is rare though - in only 71 of >100,000 studied species - and is controlled by circadian rhythm, so that the fungi only shine in the dark, when the light is likely to be noticed. This is thought to be due to the high cost-to-gain associated with bioluminescence, for fungi.Deep sea fish have much more to gain by it, i suppose.

A tiny new species of millipede - just one centimetre long - has been found to live only in the urban parks of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, and not outside in rural areas. It might be rare, but isn't it cute :-P

P.S. Solar Impulse 2 has completed the third leg of its around-the-world trip, from Ahmadabad to Varanasi.

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

'ScienceCasts: The Mystery of Nanoflares'

'History Hit News March'

Horrible Histori.... oh no, wait. Well, it's a good series anyway :-D

'Darwin Day 2015 Questions: #3 What if DNA was infallible?'

'Mudskippers use water like a tongue to swallow'

'Computer Color is Broken'

'St. Pancras'

'east of Chernobyl and the Pripyat river: Simowishtshe (Зимовище) village'
Beware, the phantom flutterbies :-P

'east of Chernobyl and the Pripyat river: Krasnoje (Красне) village & radioactive combine harvesters'


'I Don't Want To Die (A Love Song)'
And here's the reaction video:
'Geo's Reaction to Love Song'


'"The Mathematics of Booze" by Roy Zimmerman'

'On s'était mis d'accord (FloBer)'
Always more metaphors than you can shake a stick at :-D

'Perfect Strangers {The Kloons}'

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

Word Of The Week: rantipole -- a wild, romping, rude, reckless, disorderly or rakish young person

Queeneros' Fact Of The Week: Tori Amos once wrote a song - Pretty Good Year - about Queen's current band archivist, Greg Brooks.

Gene Of The Week: Braveheart -- a non-coding RNA gene that helps turn embryonic cells into heart cells during in the early stages of development in the womb.

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

'Annular Eclipse'
{Not this week's eclipse}

'Instrucciones de baile para matemáticos' (Instructions for the mathematical dance)

'IVIEWME - ROB GRANT - part 1'

'IVIEWME - ROB GRANT - part 2'

'Rob Grant | Carpool'

'Más de 70 bandas musicales en una imagen'

Led Zeppelin
Scissor Sisters
Queen? and Prince?
50 Cent
The Smashing Pumpkins
The Rolling Stones
The Eagles
The B-52s
Iron Maiden
Nine Inch Nails
Guns & Roses
The White Stripes
Alice In Chains (never heard of them!)
Crowded House?

How many can you see? Some say there are 74 acts depicted; others 77. Either way, i've not got many of them :-D

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 9-15/3/15

Hello chromotransmogrifiers,

Here's a beautiful video.

'Photonic crystals cause active colour change in chameleons'

Recent research has demonstrated that, like with butterflies and some birds, some chameleonic colour is produced by nanostructures - not by pigments.

Panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) have a resting state in which they are green, and can change their colour to adapt to social situations.

This research has shown that they do that using three layers of nanocrystals in their skin: the top layer of iridophores are the structures that reflect light at visible wavelengths; the second layer of S-iridophores varies the separation of the first layer's crystals from each other. When relaxed, the crystals are held close to each other, and when excited the crystals are pushed further apart, making them reflect longer wavelengths, and so making the chameleon look yellower, and then redder. The third layer of D-iridophores, at the bottom, is invisible to us, but variably reflects near-infrared light, and so is thought to help keep the chameleon cool.

Previously, it was hypothesised that chameleons controlled their colour by distribution of pigments in their skin i.e. moving the yellow pigment to the top to look more yellow; but this mechanism has been disproved, at least for the Panther chameleons.

It now remains to be seen whether other chameleons use the same mechanism (they likely do) and also whether cuttlefish use this mechanism of tunable photonic nanocrystals too.

'How Chameleons Change Colours'

'Photonic crystals cause active colour change in chameleons'

'Dancing droplets'
{The second half shows you how to do all of this for yourself}

Each droplet of dyed water contains both water and propylene gylcol, which interact to produce pressure and surface tension differences, across the droplets. The water evaporates more from the bottom, leaving a collection of water at the top that tucks the mixture into a bubble and causes currents of H2O and PG to swirl around inside it.

These currents can set the droplet off, racing across a low-friction surface, essentially powered by the water that evaporates away.

Maybe contrarily to intuition, it's actually the droplet in front that pulls the one behind. By having a higher water content, it's surface tension is higher, and so tugs harder than the droplet behind.

Because it contains more water, it has more to evaporate, and so moves faster too. Droplets don't merge until their water concentrations have evened out sufficiently.

'Researchers solve the mystery of the dancing droplets (w/ video)'

Is this some kind of joke? Why's Australia going to be in Eurovision at all, anyway?!?

'Australia's Eurovisioncontestant has been announced- and it's not TISM'

..and who the hell are TISM?!? :-P

'God understandably nervous to meet Terry Pratchett'
{In Terry's novels, Death always 'speaks' in capital letters}

'I’ve got bloody hundreds of kitchens, insists Cameron'
"In what is being termed “Kitchengate”, competitive politicans have been scrambling over themselves to up-kitchen each other, leaving Nick Clegg forlornly admitting to not knowing if he has a kitchen or not."

'Peppa Pig is nothing like Spearmint Rhino, new fathers warned'
"“Given the name, I was quite looking forward to the stack of Peppa Pig DVDs when my wife and kids were out”, said Dave Foster from Kettering."

'UKIP to make it illegal to discriminate against racists'
“Everyone else gets equal treatment, the ladies, the woofters and even the coloureds – but racists continue to be persecuted at work.”

'Jeremy Clarkson’s wife hospitalised with RSI after signing petition 650,000 times'
"Francis Cain, the wife of Jeremy Clarkson has been rushed to hospital with chronic RSI after signing the ‘Save Clarkson’ petition 650,000 times."

'Millions of rulers feared missing after publication of penis size survey'
“We’ve had to employ a one-in-one-out policy for men & boys aged 14 and up for the first time in our history,” said one retailer who wished to remain anonymous.

In other news:

'Knitted Knockers Australia' produces knitted breasts for women who've had mastectomies, and wish to refill their shape, in lieu of implants. One of the Nork Knitters dedicated herself to a trip, around Australia, knitting them for people in the various locations, who might need them. The cotton cazoomas are not for sale, however - they're only for people who need them, and can get them through Ozzie hospitals.

The Early Learning Centre is a company that produces toys and things, for little kids, to aid with learning, in the early period of their life. Obvious. One thing they produce is toy banknotes, to help kids get the idea of real money, without the cost. Well, an unsuspecting shopkeeper in Northern Ireland has accidentally accepted a '100EURO' ELC toy note in lieu of a real 100 Euro note, and put both the NI police and the ELC on edge. The BBC's acutely observationally skilled staff keenly observed that there are differences between the real and toy notes, and that the Sterling facsimiles are even more dissimilar. Fraudsters beware - they're onto your game!

Are Rwandans really healthier than the 10% of the English at the bottom of England's socioeconomic pile? The origin of the claim appears to be from a false comparison, using statistics from two different metrics, employed by the ONS (Office for National Statistics) and the WHO (World Health Organisation). The ONS was simply asking people whether they felt like they were in good/fair/bad health, to determine number of healthy years of life; whereas the WHO was asking people for years spent ill and then subtracting them from life expectancy. Obviously, the WHO's method overstates years of healthy life, at least in comparison to the ONS's method. So comparing the WHO's optimistic numbers for Rwandans (55 healthy years), to the ONS's more rigorous figures for English people (52 healthy years), is bound to make the English seem less healthy in comparison. Falsely. The WHO, by the way, says the English, on average, get 71 years of healthy life.

When Steve Novella and David Gorski published a paper advocating against the waste of research funding on quackery, the pseudoscience quasicommunity grabbed their pitchforks and burning torches to condemn them. Apparently, they think it's a good idea to continue to 'research', for example, damp sugar (Homeopathy, which Australia officially declared to be bollocks, last week) despite the fact that it has been demonstrably substantiated as false. Dribbling water on sugar pills does not a medicine make. End of story. Similarly, for all other branches of the I-SCAM industry, there is no reason to waste money on speciously-justified research. As if to reinforce their imbecility, advocates of pseudo-research have suggested that the best way to study their cash cows, is to do really weak tiny studies that are scientifically useless. Potentially with a size of 1. That's one person. That's completely useless, and it's actively antiscientific to say that research funds should be wasted on such a farce. Most people, of course, won't see the way quacks try to manipulate academics - they only see the adverts on TV, and the posters in Holland & Barrett's window; but in the corridors of power (government) the attitudes of academics has a real impact on whether policy manifests in State action. For example, there is still a Homeopathic 'hospital' in the UK, that wastes ~£50 million per year. Jeremy Hunt - the current Health Secretary - is a believer in magic water, and so is perfectly happy for it to continue to exist, and to not spend that vast amount of money on frontline staff in hospitals that actually use medicine, and so actually have the potential to make people better.

Here's some technophobia for the week, too. Anti-GMO, Antivaccine, Lightbulb Syndrome propagators, and now Titanium dioxide hystericists. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a compound that, as a powder, is incredibly good at scattering light. This means that it looks very bright. And very white. Very white indeed. So if you want to make something look brighter and/or whiter, putting TiO2 in it is a very good idea - it's cheap, effective, and safe. It's not very water soluble, and it's not easily absorbed by the body. And even if it is, it's not very harmful anyway. So you can already find TiO2 in a myriad of products: paper, paint, plastics, sunscreen, and even doughnuts. And that last one's where the technophobic hysteria comes in. An organisation called 'As You Sow' proclaims itself useful, for having persuaded Dunkin' Donuts to remove TiO2 powder from its doughnuts (correct spelling :-P). They style themselves as an environmentalist organisation, so we can expect them to be strong in the heart but a bit gluten-free in the head. They say that the TiO2 is especially dangerous because it comes in nanoparticle sizes. Inhaling nanoparticulates is generally bad news (as is inhaling flour), but the particles on doughnuts are rarely anywhere near as small as the nano-scale. Even so, bad PR is bad PR - like so-called 'Western' governments repealing their civil rights in fear of Religionist terrorists, companies can be relied upon to repeal their products in fear of bad publicity! Their critics don't have to be right. This isn't the first example of superstition compelling the world to be more irrational, and it won't be the last.

How do the blue super-octopusses of the Antarctic survive in near-zero-celsius water? Ice-cold water actually contains large amounts of dissolved oxygen, but getting that oxygen into the body is very difficult, because oxygen-diffusion is much less efficient and blood is much more viscous, than in warm temperate waters. Octopods (including octopusses) do not have blood like ours - with haemoglobin in - they have what's called 'haemolymph' which has haemocyanin in, in haemoglobin's place. It's not quite as effective in warmer temperatures, but works much better at low temperatures (especially sub-zero) and, incidentally, low oxygen concentrations too. Comparing Antarctic octopods to warm-water octopods has found that they are probably better set up for warming waters, due to climatic changes, as their haemolymph continues to work well in warmer temperatures. To see a video of Megaleledone setebos swimming in Antarctic waters, just follow the link:

Solar Impulse II is the second incarnation of the solar-powered aeroplane, mentioned on this blog before. In the last week, it set off and completed its first leg of a round-the-world flight, from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, Oman. It then set off on its first trans-marine journey, toward Gujarat in India, which was also its longest ever journey, at 1468 km (pipping SI-1's 1386 km across the USA) and taking ~16 hours to complete. The longest leg will be from Nanjing to Hawaii, across the Pacific; and will take about five days, to cover 8500 kilometres!

Sponges are old. Very old. I don't mean the things you wash yourself with, or even the loofah you use to strigulate yourself with - i mean biological sponges. I mean the legion supra-organisms that can be destroyed and then come back together again, overnight. Those amazing things. Researchers have dated the remains of a sponge, found in China, to be 600 million years old, which means it's likely the ancestor of all modern sponges. But more pertinent to vertebrates like us, the evolution of sponges marks the dimorphism and consequent ancestral split from our common ancestors with them. They might not look it, but they are animals too! Follow the link to see a picture of it:

Rather less interestingly, paleontologists have discovered a 2-metre long ancestor of the lobster that stalked the oceans 480 million years ago. It looked utterly weird (as did most life of the time) and probably fed like modern whales, using plates to filter food from the waters in which it lived. Meh. Man-sized lobsters are boring compared to sponges :-P To see more pictures, and a 23-minute video on the subject, follow the link:

Here's some non-news: corvids are smart. And here's some news: corvids in the USA have been documented adapting to domesticated lives - swapping gifts for food; and company for care. Now, will someone please explain why horseburgers are wrong? ;-)

And here's a wonderful thing: a touching gallery, of art for blind people. And sighted people who like touching, too, i suppose. It's been done by a Spanish artistic group, and an artist who went blind in his 20s, about a decade ago. What they've done is to take some famous paintings, and then use a relief printing technique to make them 3D and thereby tactile to gallery visitors. Unfortunately, the video of the project being made, at the link, isn't tactile, as that technology doesn't exist yet. One day, though, maybe.

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

'An intro to The Oscars (Skeptics with a K)' (my upload)

'Killing Cancer with Sugar and Alcohol!'

'Darwin Day 2015 Questions: #2 Is Evolution a Fact?'

'This Video Will Make You Angry'
Welcome to memetics. Invented by Richard Dawkins, decades ago :-)

'Ariel-1 and the Atomic Space Bomb - Objectivity #10'

'Water droplets pop like popcorn off geckos' skin'
{More info:}

'Bridge Over Diagnosis - a parody of Bridge Over Troubled Water'

This is a genuine problem; and it's the reason i always ignore the entreatments by private sector medical/pseudomedical companies to have myself tested for this, that and the other, on the off chance.

'Fake fingerprints could help fight fraud'

'The Male Display of the Greater Sage-Grouse'

'UV Light - Sixty Symbols'

'Purify Sulfuric Acid by Distillation'

'east of Chernobyl and the Pripyat river: Koschiwka (кошивка) village'

'Incredible Animal Superpowers - A Week in Science'

'Testing Religion and Offence' - CoolHardLogic

'Jeremy Clarkson Song "Eye Of The Clarkson" by Christian Reilly'
{Reference repeat:}

'Musicless Video - Never Gonna Give You Up'
{I'm thinking of starting a meme of videoless music. Do you think it'll catch on? :-P}

'John Inverdale's Rose-C***ed Glasses'

The 'Jeremy Hunts' mentioned in the description box are a reference to James Naughtie's spoonerising of "Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary" four years ago :-D

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

Word Of The Week: oniochalasia -- the act of purchasing as a form of relaxation

Quote Of The Week: "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nominative Determinism Of The Week: Hannah Moore, Keith Moore and Ruth Less (Alexander?) -- they work on BBC Radio 4's statistics programme 'More or Less'

Fact Of The Week: In 2003, the BBC commissioned the British Army to construct a working tank, based on Leonardo Da Vinci's scribblings, replete with incompetent reproduction of the blatantly faulty gearing system, that turned the wheels in opposite directions!

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

'Venus in RADAR'

'A grand extravaganza of new stars'

'Spitting Image - Clean Rubgy Songs'
[reverse logic] Do not look these songs up. Do not look them up  :-P

'Craig Charles | Carpool'
The gears are grinding and the wheels are turning, to get Red Dwarf on the road to series 11 later this year. Apparently, there's a new series of Carpool in the works, too :o)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 2-8/3/15

Hi Stegosaurids,

'Billboard: Exclusive Premiere: The Darkness Return With ‘Barbarian’ Video'

"‘Barbarian’ features not one but two dramatic monologues, a guitar solo that has been declared ‘irresponsible’, a riff that weakens lady-knees and a chorus that makes grown men shit directly into their pants."

I'm rementioning the Darkness' newness becausess, having listened to it quite a few times so far, i'm becoming increasingly sure that the voice reading the tombstone is that of David Ross - the man who played the original Kryten in Red Dwarf, and then Talkie Toaster.

I could easily be wrong. Even parents can't reliably identify their family over the phone - no matter how much they say they can - so it could just be someone else. Hmm....

Btw, that baby on the album cover, is called 'Danielle'. Here's an interview with her... not really, it's with her father :-P

'The Darkness Last Of Our Kind Album Artwork – Interview with Baby’s father, John Bean'

On the subject of photography, and having heard the last SGU episode, i'm beginning to wonder more about the dress-colour story.

Apparently, some people really are perceiving white and gold (not just saying it) and one of the Rogues even saw both, like a GIF image flicking back and forth!

To me, there's no question: it's blue and black.

I mean, seriously, i spent a minute staring at it, just to make sure i wasn't being closed-minded to reality, and i saw buggar all!

But maybe people are perceiving extreme differences to reality, because modern generations are used to seeing instagrams with colour filters, and so their brains' internal light filter and colour filters are more susceptible to colour distortion?

Personally, i don't use those filters - i want to see 'true' colours, and i want them to show through when i do photography. Maybe i just have a better light filter in my mind than the people who misperceived??

Either way, we should remember that a huge part of what we call 'seeing' is produced, post-hoc, by the brain's processing functions. So there's plenty of wiggle room for illusions and other miswangled perceptions.

I wonder whether, in years to come, this bizarre occurrence will be seen as akin to the Middle Ages' dancing manias -- apparently inexplicable, but maybe understandable by considering peculiar cultural circumstances.

Especially when people are looking at each other and saying "white and gold, right?" we should expect to see people peer pressuring each other into a common answer, even if it's wrong.

And perceptions are malleable to peer pressure, as empirically established by the Asch conformity experiments, so the abundance of wrong people could be partly attributable to that.


In other news:

Google wants to rank sites by trustworthiness, rather than popularity, as it does now. While laudable as a desire, it's difficult to see how this might work. Populism works for some things - the memetics of fashion, for example - but with objective claims, popularity means nothing. If everyone's wrong, everyone's just wrong. So Google wants to change its algorithms to respect the factual validity of the websites listed. Nothings ever perfect, so there are bound to be some funny results coming up, even if they succeed, but i dearly hope that this doesn't just remain a pipe dream!

They say religion is the pinnacle of unbounded stupidity. Well, this guy tried to sue a restaurant when he prayed his face straight into his scalding-hot lunch, so that opinion seems to be in a perpetual state of substantiation. A trial judge dismissed the suit, finding Applebee's - the restaurant chain - was not required to warn the man "against a danger that is open and obvious". Isn't it just so stereotypical, that a superstitonist would try to shift the blame for the consequences of their own superstitious rituals. Anyone but themselves, eh.

In the real world, there are bounds of stupidity. Possibly. But if real, they get stretched vigorously by all kinds of journalists too. It's been reported recently, including by the Daily Fail, that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is actually real, according to a study. Well, as mentioned here in August last year, evidence has suggested that NCGS, unlike Coeliac Disease, doesn't exist. And what of this study? Do the researchers really think NCGS is real? Well, no. In fact they've explicitly stated that their study says nothing of the kind, and does not present a "physical explanation" for how NCGS might work, if it existed. Never mind. Maybe, if they were good journalists, they would have asked the researchers what they'd found, and then reported that instead!

Possibly the worst example of reporting Science, this week, has been the story about gerbils being 'the true source' of The Plague / Black Death. What was actually found, was that gerbils (amongst many other species) could also catch and/or carry the diseases as well as rats. Instead of reporting it as 'some other species get sick too' they've presented it as 'rats are fine, but kill the gerbils' which is completely and utterly wrooooooooooooong!! Credibility 1 - 0 Journalism

Is that 'test' for tetrachromacy real? No. But interestingly, tetrachromacy is a real but rare condition that doesn't mean you can see more colours if you have it. It also doesn't explain how you could be one of those weirdos who thought blue and black looked like white and gold, mentioned last week. More interestingly, the utilisation of the fake tetrachromacy test, being purported as a justification for people's misperceptions, is an example of post-hoc rationalisation. Instead of investigating whether it's true, the temptation there is to construct a narrative which makes 'truth' sound plausible. As blogged two months ago, such narratives are frequently illusory.

Apparently, ~500 men in India have been persuaded by a 'guru' (cult leader) to have themselves castrated, in an attempt to meet Gawwwd! That's only 100,000th of his followers, though - he's a man with a lot of influence, and a track record of avoiding prosecution for sexual crimes against men and women, simply because politicians depend on him for votes! And the English think they had problems with Jimmy Saville et al. They never had the power to compel other people to abuse themselves, to get away with it, and then to hold significant sway over who holds the reigns of power!

Astronomers have observed a star breaking the galactic speed record! It's been seen doing 1,200 kilometers per second (2.7 million miles per hour) which is enough for it to escape the Milky Way galaxy. It was accelerated to this speed by the supernovaing of its binary partner. To see an artist's depiction of the scene, follow the link:

Speaking of physicists. Brian Cox has 'been involved' with Deepak Chopra on Twitter again, recently. Chopra is infamous, amongst the Rationalist quasi-community, for trolling them on Twitter, in looking to start fights. He does it mostly to entertain his baying fanatics, but sometimes he does get responses, which only show up his utter lack of credibility. His Twitter convos also expose the fact that his claimed never-ending calmness and peacefulness run out incredibly quickly :-D

The Natural History Museum, in London, have used two different computational modelling techniques to 'flesh out' scans of their Stegosaurus - 'Sophie' - and to thereby postdict its mass. Sophie's remains are 85% complete and were bought from Wyoming using money donated by someone whose daughter gave their name to the skeleton. Unlike his daughter (presumably) this Sophie was found to weigh ~1560 Kg - the mass of a large cow or small rhino. Sophie is thought to have died as a juvenile, as other Stegosaurus specimens have been found much larger, and her bones were still growing when she died. NHM's Paul Barrett postdicts that she was at least 6 when she snuffed it. To see the NHM's video about Sophie, on YouTube, click here.

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

'The Surface Of Light! (Lion King Science Parody) - A Capella Science'
This is fantastic :o)

'Father upset that his son's first words, picked up from defective Peppa Pig toy, were f*ck you'

'Swear words help boost awareness of sign language at Adelaide Fringe festival'

'Darwin Day 2015 Questions: Is Homosexuality Nature's Population Control?'
If you're wondering why Richard keeps looking the wrong way, it's because they previously uploaded a version with a camera angle covering that direction, but lots of people complained about it in the comments section, for being discombobulating.

'"One Of My Dad's Stories" Tales Of Mere Existence'

'Why Don't Whales Get (More) Cancer?'

'How Scanners Detect Colour'

'Watch a praying mantis perform acrobatic jumps'


'Woodpecker-Riding Weasels'
It's real?!?

'The art of before-and-after pictures'
The 'S' in the I-SCAM industry uses this technique prolifically.

'Should space missions be crewed by women? - A Week in Science'
{So what we really need is: people with strong hearts, isolation tolerance, strong teamworking skills, and little height and weight. Does this mean cosmonauts should be "exclusively" female? No. But the 'top 10' who fulfilled these requirements would probably mostly be female. I cheekily suggest an alternative title to the video:
'Should space missions be crewed by fit, well-balanced dwarves? - A Week in Science'
Personally, i have no problems with the idea of only women being sent out to die one-by-one, depressed and alone, in the bitter blankness of space. But that's because you mammals are all the same to me :-P }

'58 and other Confusing Numbers - Numberphile'

'The Banned Toy Museum'
#1, at least, should be familiar to you, having been mentioned here, two weeks ago.

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

Word Of The Week: bibliothecary -- a collector of and carer for, books; essentially, a librarian

Fact Of The Week: the first ever tennis player, to be known by name, was Louis X of France. He was a keen player of 'jeu de paume' as its incarnation was known at the time, and after a strenuous game in one of his purpose-built indoor courts, consumed  a large quantity of cooled wine, which killed him through mechanisms unknown. It's because he died in an incident related to tennis, that his is the first name ever to be associated with the sport, as a player, in 1316.

Quote Of The Week: "Accepting death - by understanding that every life comes to an end, when time demands it. Loss of life is to be mourned, but only if the life was wasted." - older Spock to younger Spock in 'Yesteryear' from 'Star Trek - The Animated Series'

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

'Skeletal Equality'

'Hungarian Mosaic'

'Deportes híbridos #2' (Hybrid Sports #2)

'Moneda de cobre (5.000x)' (copper coin zoomed x5000)

Monday, 2 March 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 23/2 - 1/3/15

Hi dresses,

Now, i'm sure my loyal readers can tell the difference between black-and-blue, and white-and-gold, but apparently there are morons out there who can't tell the difference.

For them, here's Sally Le Page, explaining how people can be fooled by illusions:

'#TheDress explained ~ Wiz Khalifa 'Black and Yellow' Parody'

And here's an abstract property of Captain Disillusion's anglepoise lamp, explaining how dumb you'd have to be to think it were white and gold, in this particular case:

'Mr. Flare Explains: What Color The Dress Is'

I was only slightly surprised to see that story on the TV News :-D

This one, however...

'Rowan Atkinson to star in new ITV adaptation of Maigret'

Henry VIII and now this? Wonderful.

I've only seen two episodes of Michael Gambon's version, but i liked it. I wonder how this one will compare.

In other news, women are horrendous sexists. #Fuckthematriarchy!

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: UK Labour Party (HBO)'

Remember that that van campaign was the brainchild of a woman - Harriet Harman - and effusively defended by her. Hence the 'woman to woman' slogan on the side of the bus, which is far more patronisingly prejudicial than the colour of it.

So sorry, sex-war-believing feminists; it's not men being derogatory to women, this time -- it's women being derogatory to women.

Just like male politicians misrepresent what men want (i.e. warm beer and 24-hour soccer on satellite TV) female politicians misrepresent what women want.

Sexism is made of false beliefs about what constitute men and women, whether exhibited by men or women or intersex people.

But look on the 'bright' side: at one time, the 'pink vote' was a derogatory term for the 5% of the electorate that are Queer. Now that politicians have noticed that Queers have been opiated by marriage, the term's slung around to the much-larger 50% of the population who happen to lack Y-chromosomes. And because of that biology, won't vote for them.

I think the well-meaning (non-selfish) pollies are wasting their time, trying to "appeal to women" because it's only the populist power-whoredom arguments that really 'justify' it.

Populist pollies want to wrest votes back from UKIP, by being more selfish, myopic and bigoted - traits that appeal to UKIP-sympathising voters; and the only way they're going to wrest votes from women who sexistly refuse to vote for men, is by being more priggishly sexist.

Well-meaning politicians shouldn't want those votes. They should just try their hardest to do the best for their constituents, and to make sure those people know it.

I find it utterly unsurprising that pollies who think that 'appealing to women' means doing womanish things (e.g. being pink, and being in kitchens), rather than just being good at what they do, have come out with such a horrendously sexist campaign. It's just as stomach-churning as when they try to appeal to men through beers and arse-cleavage!

P.S. The same 'pinkwashing' has been imposed by morons who think sexism attracts girls into Sport, and into Science. Pollies aren't even smart enough to be original, LOL.

'Merchants of Doubt: What Climate Deniers Learned from Big Tobacco'

Climate Obstructionism, Tobaccco Industry marketing, Alt Med, Creationism; what do all of these have in common? They all depend on the fabrication of doubt, to undermine the evidence, and thereby direct minds away from reality-based inferences of the truth.

- Climate Obstructionists have told us for decades that Climatology can't be trusted, and instead they present themselves as true authorities on it.

- The tobacco industry presents itself as an authority on 'safe' (non-black) markets, to this day; and used to pretend that it knew whether nicotine was addictive and tobacco was harmful.

- The I-SCAM industry puts huge effort into pretending that "Science doesn't know everything" and that there might, if you wish hard enough, be another way to overcome terrifying illnesses. And of course, they know what those are.

- And Religions, too, whether Creationist or not, depend on the fabrication of doubt in reality, in order to sneak in false truths, behind our rational defence systems.

There are a variety of other superstitions that employ these same cognitive tricks. Not necessarily deliberately, but they do.

Just because there isn't a huge industry dependent on your belief that little green androgynes came down and probed some insomniac drunks, doesn't mean Conspiracy Theorists don't insist that 'the official story' should be doubted... and that instead you should believe them.

When people are wrong, and can benefit from you being wrong too, they will do two things:

1: Persuade you to distrust evidence

2: Persuade you to treat them as an authority i.e. believe them regardless

Here's a promptly topical case-study:

'Supplement industry is manufacturing controversy over NY action'

The basics of this story, are that I-SCAM industry magic potions manufacturers have been caught out by the New York state Attorney General, for not even putting the ingredients that they say are in their ingredients list, into their potions.

In response, industry and sockpuppet accounts on Twitter have whined at the Attorney General to fabricate doubt around the evidence that condemns them, to pressure the AG into withdrawing charges. Examples of such insidiously manipulative Tweets are:

   "When will we see data from the DNA study on herbal supplements? #transparency"
   "When will we see data from the DNA study on herbal supplements? #transparency #secret"
   "Herbal supplements industry takes pride in #transparency. When will @AGSchneiderman reveal data from the DNA study on herbal supplements?"
   "#Action Alert: Tell New York Attorney General It's Time for #Transparency"
   "Tweet at @AGSchneiderman to request #transparency on his #herbalsupplement"
   "@nick_benson pr man for @AGSchneiderman @SenSherrodBrown all about that spin no #transparency"

   {CEO of Natural Products Association}
Thankfully, their incompetence has been their undoing. The only transparency relevant to this case, is that they are unscrupulous businesspeople, willing to lie for the sake of profit.


The 40th anniversary of the inception of the ACCC - the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Putting the 'zing!' into 'commission' :-P

In other news:

Methane on Mars. Is it there, or is it not? A study published one/two years ago found that concentrations were 0-2.5 parts per billion, in the atmosphere. {According to my memory} That means they were inconclusive. But this study claims to have found a very small but consistent 0.7 parts per billion by volume concentration of CH4 (methane) and spikes of up to 7 parts per billion by volume. In repetition, and because people insist that they only really care about little green Martian men, the researchers remark that this means they 'can't rule out' methanogenesis i.e. biological production of methane, and so this presence means there might be bacterial/quasi-bacterial organisms living on/in Mars. On the other hand, none of it might come from methanogenesis, and it could all be there by some other mechanism. Watch this k-space :-P

Fossils! This week, the Fossil Calibration Database 'went live' and is intended to be a free, open-access resource that can help paleontological enthusiasts - professional and amateur alike - to collate fossil data and to co-ordinate assembly of the evolutionary tree of life, through dating fossils and working out which ancestral and descendant species they represent.

Another fossil: the Dishonourable Member of Parliament for Holland & Barrett - David Tredinnick - and current Conservative MP, has bullishly declared that the NHS can be saved by serving patients with Astrological fraud. Sorry, Dave - geocentric superstition is not a medicine; scientists are not bullies for 'dismissing' it as a completely pseudoscientific farce; and it's not "racist" to respect truth and honesty. Tredinnick's one of those people who seems to strive for new bounds of idiocy: he's a fervent naturopathy sympathiser; homeopathetics supporter; and... racist Ukipperer. He is exactly the kind of person (like the whole Conservative Cabinet) who should not be deemed competent enough to represent people in government. But unfortunately, because we live in a populist democracy, no matter how poorly informed the electorate who vote for them, we still have to endure their destructive influences.

And unfortunately, this - the Wellness Warrior's story - is one of the I-SCAM industry's biggest 'successes'. A fully paid-up believer in the fraudulent fake-medicine industry, she lasted several years, with cancer, and without real treatment, just letting her case get worse and worse. And if that weren't bad enough, she spent all that time in her guise as the 'Wellness Warrior' cajoling other people to follow in her metaphorical footsteps. She has now died, like many others before her, and she leaves behind her a wake of fear and anger: fear that people will follow her, and anger that she had (and they have) to die this way. It really brings the message home, when a wealthy 30-year-old woman dies of a treatable condition, because of the lies she inherited from her mother, who met the same fate. The price of insufficient scientific rigour can be one's own life. Very sad.

Continuing the depressing theme: a man has apparently killed three people for being Muslims. The peculiarity being that they're not a Christian or another Muslim. At least, that's the narrative being woven. Evidence appears to be so sparsely available that even this might not be true. But the claim that it might be a crime "motivated by religious hatred" is blatantly false, as long as it's true that the guy in question is an Atheist. If he's not religious, then he can't possibly hate people religiously. It's the classic religious 'rape culture' morality-dodge that motivates such a claim: the shifting of blame from the perpetrator to the victim enables them to shift the definition of religious crime to one that's motivated by religion, to one that effects religious people. But religious superstitions, and people who affiliate to those superstitions, are not the same. The indictee in this case might yet prove to exhibit those beliefs, but we have yet to see.

Cigar smokers have converged in Cuba, to compete to create the longest ash stack. At first, i thought this was a really stupid idea: deliberately endangering your health, for the sake of an arbitrary competition. But isn't that all sport? Risks and hazards apply to a driver in F1, as much as to these people. They might die prematurely, trying to drive around a track fastest; and these people might die prematurely, trying to create a column of ash on the end of their cigar. I suppose a difference is that the dangers in sports have an illusion of instantaneousness - make a mistake, and break a leg - whereas things like smoking have a huge lag time - smoke 10 a day, and you'll get some kind of cancer in 30 years time. But this is an illusion, because you know that you have a risk of dieing in a car/horse racing accident, when you take the hobby/career up, and the opportunity for that risk to catch up with you increases the longer you play. The same is true with smoking. So do cigar-ash-column competitions count as valid competitions? Like most dare-devil activities, i'd say no to it; but i think it still counts. Rally Car racers argued for decades that safety restrictions should not be imposed, because the threat made it more fun to them. The same could be said for smoking, given that it involves a similar addictive interaction with drugs contained in the mixture. From a holistic risk-hazard standpoint though, F1 is a lot safer than inhaling dried leaves, of any kind.

A showing of the abusive-relationship-that-doesn't-resemble-BDSM-because-BDSM-is-contingent-on-consent flick 'Fifty Shades of Grey' in a cinema that allows viewers to consume alcohol, has not gone down very well. When three women get 'quite rowdy' during the showing, a man complained, and then they assaulted him! “Despite Press reports, nobody was glassed and a wine bottle was not used as a weapon. Those involved did not require hospital attention", said the Police. They continued: “Three women have been arrested for alleged disorder offences and inquiries continue to determine the full circumstances surrounding the incident.”

Yet another silly ghost story, this time in the Daily Mirror - a UK tabloid. It seems this 'case study' is simply what happens when an iPhone is set to 'panoramic' and someone walks through the shot as it's being taken. That's the trouble with all of these photographic evidences - they can be faked/mistaken too easily, which means they can't be used as evidence that hasn't been established some other way.

But to be fair to the Mirror, the Daily Fail has managed to outdo them for sheer stupidity. As you'd expect. According to them, a toddler falling over is a mysterious and inexplicable tale, that is worthy of being retold in a national newspaper :-D

Facebook's in trouble... again. This time, the Belgian government's Data Protection Authority has reported that the new terms of service and data policies instituted by Facebook are unlawful, according to EU laws that are intended to protect individuals from abuse by information-hoarding companies like Facebook. Google has also been in trouble with the EU, directly, for its taxable activities. According to the report, their chief concern is the use of ambiguous terminology to gain consent from its users without adequately explaining what they're up to. This includes the use of people's pictures and profiles for advertising purposes. For the user agreements to be valid, they say, they need to allow for consent to be "specific, informed and unambiguous". It's not yet clear whether the Belgian government will take action against Facebook, or whether the European Union will get involved. While Facebook fobs users off with an infinity of 'gender' choices, this remains a truly important problem.

Having mentioned the EU, i ought to show you this: a photograph of Brussels, taken by the Spot-5 satellite, and held on ice for 3.5 years. You can almost make out the office where i work as a shill for the Fascist EU Superstate <s>. "Vote fascist for a third glorious decade of total law enforcement. Be a Government Informer. Betray your family and friends. Fabulous prizes to be won!" :-P

So it's not just the Egyptian superstitionists who were creepy nutbags then! The Buddhists have also practiced mummification, including of this person - Liuquan - who lived around the 11th/12th centuries CE. But whereas the ancient Egyptians simply removed organs and buried their dead relatives to help them get to 'the afterlife', these Buddhists replaced the organs with scriptures, in order to help them 'power up' to Buddha level. Presumably, that would happen the 'next time' they were born. So sorry, Pharaohs, your era's religious nutbaggery just got relegated by the Buddhists' on my list of batshit religious rituals! Weird, weird, weird, weird, weird. Did you think Buddhism was a the sane Religion? Sorry to disappoint you :-P

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

'L’assemblée Intergalactique (Valentin Vincent)'

'Dark Energy Survey's Comet Lovejoy'

'seeing things' - Theramin Trees

'The Real Reality Show: Could you Really Travel Through a Black Hole?'

'How to bowl like Wasim Akram - A Week in Science'

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Elected Judges (HBO)'

'The stupidity of politicians never ceases to amaze me...'

'Cooking Myths'

Food. Yum. Find out how to cook it properly, through a scientific touch :o)
Enlinked within the article: 'The Food Lab: A New Way to Cook Pasta?'

'Bionic arm trumps flesh after elective amputation'

'Saharan dust caught crossing the Atlantic Ocean'
As i mentioned here, five months ago, that dust actually partially consists of the fossilised remains of fish, living millions of years ago, in sub-saharan seas. Their bodies formed part of the sedimentary rocks (apatite) that now erode away into dust, and is wafted over to nutrify the Amazon.

'California Science Center - JK Adventures'

'The Darkness - Barbarian (Official Video)'

'Queen + Adam Lambert - Behind The Magic'
Note: this 'behind the scenes' might not be entirely serious ;-)

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

Word Of The Week: brontide --  the sound of, or a sound like, distant thunder

Expression Of The Week: tout de suite -- from French, meaning 'now'/'at once'; with 'tout' meaning 'all' and 'suite' meaning a sequence/series/set, as in 'en suite' which means somethings (toilette) that are included in the deal.

Android App Of The Week: Shit Simulator

Fact Of The Week: the French for 'paperclip' is 'trombone'

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

'The Attenborough-Fortey talk: What's in a name? | Natural History Museum'
{Post script: David has since had more (and extant) species named after him, as i stated three weeks ago}

'Red Dwarf - Byte One - The Smeg Outs (Series 8)'

'Red Dwarf - Byte Two - The Smeg Outs (Series 8)'