Sunday, 31 May 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 25-31/5/15

Hello chocolateers,

Have you heard of the latest spookyness meme? It's called the Charlie Charlie Challenge, and it's as old as the hills.

It doesn't demonstrate the existence of 'spirits' or whatever you might imagine - all it demonstrates is that people can perceive whatever they like, when they have a superstitious motive to, or are mimicking other people, whom they presume to have a superstitious belief.

To see how easy it is to get the same results, watch Kenneth Biddle's video, embedded into the link above. Or click here.

The latest hysteria-inducing evil-goodness meme, that all the Media orgs seem to be passing around, is the realisation that some 'charities' aren't anywhere near as charitable as they'd like you to think.

Just because something's registered as a charity, doesn't mean it genuinely does good in the world.

I think one of the surest signs of charity fakery is their enthusiasm to get money out of us. My address receives plenty of scam mail from fake charities like the 'Missionaries of Charity' (Mother Theresa's sadomasochistic cult), 'Feed My People' (a similar organisation employing Gandhi's visage), 'Christian Aid' (whose propaganda exhorts prayer as a cure for the world's ills), 'Help for Heroes' (that exists purely to undermine the funding of the British Legion), and numerous private sector medical companies, trying to sell pointless medical screening tests, insurances, etc.

I find that the most malevolent 'charities' are the ones that put most effort into getting money out of people, and therefore least money into actually doing the actual charity work - sending gifts, parceling huge amounts of glossy paperwork, and even posting ghastly crucifixes, is not charity!

Here's a picture of a small collection of paper spam, posted to my address, over the last few years. It's nothing compared to what some people receive!

‘Fake-Charity Scam Mail’

These businesses should not be considered charities, because they do what they do as entrepreneurs - they've realised that by pretending to be charities (especially by mimicking the names of genuine charities) they can extort money from the subjects of their propaganda.

There's a reason doorstep selling is illegal in many countries - many people are made vulnerable by how easily they're persuaded. But they're just as vulnerable to paper entreatments as to doorstep entreatments.

It's important to remember that there are real charities out there - instead of 'Missionaries of Charity', there's a 'Responsible Charity'; instead of 'Christian Aid' there's a 'Medecins Sans Frontieres'; instead of marketing from private medical companies, there's the advice of Science Based Medicine blogs.

Unfortunately, this is yet another example of life being hard - we have to research charities before we can know how reputable they are. Glossy pages and kitemarks just don't cut it.

So stay skeptical, people. Stay skeptical.

In other news:

Google seems to have had its first major failure, in attempting to design its search algorithms to give correct answers to questions. Rather embarrassingly, the term "what happened to the dinosaurs" presents a retort from, 'explaining' that dinosaurs are tools to indoctrinate people into Science! Here's my screencap, from this morning.

There's been yet another diet fad story, pinging around the world of churnalism, this fortnight, but this time with a difference. Obviously, it's all bullshit, as the only dietary advice you need is: "eat a healthy, balanced diet; and match your calorie intake to how much you exercise". But this bullshit fad is apparently OK, because it's an ironic dangerous, pseudoscientific diet fad. Oh, how i'm laughing. My sides, i think they're going to split! <s> Hmmm... The perpetrator was a journalist with a PhD in the molecular biology of bacteria, who thought it would be well fun lol, to find out how easily bullshit spreads around the world of bad-journalism. "German Cosmo, Britain’s Daily Star, the Irish Examiner, the Times of India, Texas-based outlet KTRE, and a number of other media sources" took the story up, as it sounded all cuddly and nice, but controversial and science-shaming, and so exactly the kind of thing they wanted to sell to their markets, but... was it really necessary to make up yet another bullshit story, when there are so many that we already know are baseless, in a world of bullshit that produces its own of its own accord?!? Sorry to smack them down for doing what they thought was a good job, but it was actually entirely unnecessary for them to exacerbate the problem while investigating it. They didn't find anything new, and haven't changed a thing. Except the reputation of scientists, in the popular press, as people who skip ethics standards for the sake of their research desires. Can you tell that i'm not happy with them? LOL. Even though the article hasn't been officially retracted, it does seem to have gone mysteriously missing. That's still not good Science though - it should have been pushed, not left to jump.

The Chinese State has publicly crushed 660 Kg of ivory, as part of their attempts to stigmatise the possession of ivory products. The majority of demand, in the country, actually comes from the desire for social status, achieved through possession of ornate ivory decorations - not from the superstitious belief that ivory is medicinal. Both, of course, are big problems. By publicly destroying ivory products, the hope is to disassociate it from aspiration, and undermine the demand that has seen the Chinese government order hundreds of tonnes of ivory for importation from African countries, in attempts to suppress ivory prices. Owning cheap things is not a status symbol, you see. China's first public destruction of ivory was last year, when they destroyed 6 tonnes of it.

Shark fins aren't necessarily purchased for pseudo-medical purposes either, but their trade is still rightfully illegal in Ecuador, where 200,000 fins have been seized across several operations, which have resulted in the arrest of only three suspected traffickers. I wonder whether they're really that few in number, or just illusive!? Given that it's true that 98% of homicides in Mexico go unsolved, i wouldn't be surprised if there were many more traffickers disappearing under similar circumstances. It seems quite plausible.

In contrast, the recently re-elected Conservative government is quite enthusiastic about animal abuse. Despite dropping the abolition of Human Rights from the Queen's Speech (not written by her), and the advocation of the Snooper's Charter, which mandates activity recently declared illegal in the USA, David Cameron and his cretins are all thumbs-up to the bloodsport of tearing foxes apart for fun! Lovely people, aren't they. <s>

Researchers have found that budgies yawn in mimicry, just like primates and some other mammal species have been shown to. It should be remembered that budgies and parrots are well known for mimicry, and so it's not entirely surprising that they've learned to mimic yawning movements. It should also be remembered that mimicry doesn't have to be the only mechanism to prompt yawning - humans are thought to yawn when their forebrains warm up, and to signify tiredness to their peers. These hypotheses can be true too, in combination with the mimicry hypothesis, but it doesn't mean budgies yawn for tiredness-communication purposes like humans do... if humans do.

Another Quantum Physics experiment; another successful replication of Wheeler's delayed-choice experiment; and another calamitous misinterpretation of the results presented to the audience! Gah. Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) trapped a collection of helium atoms in a suspended state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, and then ejected them until there was only a single atom left. A system of light gratings was used to introduce constructive or destructive interference, as if the atom had travelled both paths. Contrary to the article, what this experiment does not show, is that "reality does not exist until it is measured". It actually shows that superposition means the possession of multiple states/conditions, until a particular state is decided upon, later. The metaphorical cat (helium atoms) is alive and dead, until it's alive or dead. The reality is that, whether constructive or destructive interference has been introduced, or none at all, the 'cat' remains both alive and dead, until a 'choice' is made, and then and only then does the system collapse into 'alive' or 'dead'. This is what produces the illusion of an action affecting the past. You can never actually see the cat being both alive and dead, without introducing some medium (light, electrons, neutrinos, whatever) that causes the system to decide on an outcome, and so the 'choice' or 'observation' does actually involve physical tampering with the system. So sorry, Chopra-lovers, there's not actually any room for mushy 'everything and nothing is true' bullshit in Quantum Physics :-P

Solar Impulse 2 is currently on its way from Nanjing to Hawaii - the longest leg of its perilous journey, powered only by sunlight. It took off yesterday, and will reach Hawaii midweek. If you're quick enough, the link leads to a livestream of the flight. It's certainly got the drying paint stream licked :-D

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

'Pythagoras Cup (Greedy Cup) filled with Mercury'

'the highly radioactive kindergarten laboratory of Pripyat'

'Eucalyptus Leaves'

'Franklin's Kite Experiment - Objectivity #21'

'Image: Giant filaments on the face of the sun say "keep right"'

'Dawn spirals closer to Ceres, returns a new view'

'Cassini prepares for last up-close look at Hyperion'

'Image: Europa's Jupiter-facing hemisphere'

'The Checkout - Season 3 Episode 5'

{Episode 6 was just a compilation of old skits}

'The Checkout - Season 3 Episode 7'

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

Word Of The Week: maultasche -- a foodstuff consisting of a pasta dough, wrapped around a mixture of meat/veg; much like ravioli but bigger and tastier; its name comes from 'maul' (mouth) and 'tasche' (bag) which either means 'foodbag' as an allusion to its shape and contents, or from the archaic word 'maultatschen' which means 'a slap in the face', perhaps as a different allusion to its appearance - similar to a cheek that's been slapped (with the colour of the food showing through the pale pasta dough). A nickname for maultasche (maultaschen in plural) is 'Herrgottsbescheißerle', which translates as 'God's little bullshitters' due to the supposed origin of the dish being to hide the contents from the gods of Christianity - the prevalent Religion in Swabia (in modern-day Baden-Württemberg) at the time, where meat was forbidden/discouraged during the Lent antifestival. Because maultaschen can conceal meaty contents, they were considered apt for this cheeky, covert operation.

Expression Of The Week: 'at bay' -- meaning 'held back'; comes from hunting, in which dogs would be held 'at bay' where 'bay' means 'barking, making noise' in the sense of 'baying'

Quote Of The Week: "A democratic society, an open society, places an extraordinary intellectual responsibility on ordinary men and women because we are governed by what we think, we are governed by our opinions, so the content of our opinions and the quality of our opinions and the quality of the formation of our opinions basically determines the character of our society. That means in a democracy, in an open society, a thoughtless citizen of a democracy is a delinquent citizen of a democracy" - Leon Wieseltier

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

I notice that that livestream of paint drying has actually been updated to a livestream of grass growing. Stuff that for a laugh! Surely there's an easier to way to get into the world of growing grass? Ah, i see there's a YouTuber who's made exactly the right video for me. Well, let's get stuck in then, shall we...

'Nerd³'s Hell... Grass Simulator'

'Nerd³'s Hell... Mining & Tunneling "Simulator"'
FYI: Squirrel played this and it didn't suck this hard :-D

'Nerd³ Plays... I am Bread'

'Nerd³'s Mother and Son-Days - GTA Online'

'Nerd³'s Father and Son-Days - Uncharted 3'

'Nerd³ Plays... Harry Potter for Kinect'

'Nerd³ Plays... Star Trek: The Awful Videogame'

'Nerd³ Plays... Surgeon Simulator 2013 IN SPACE!'

'Nerd³'s Father and Son-Days - GeoGuessr'

'Nerd³ Challenges! Double or Nothing! - Google Feud'

'Nerd³ Challenges! Carmageddon AND Tsunami! - GTA IV'

'Best (Glitch) In The World'

'Nerd³ Plays... Ryse: Son of Rome'

'Nerd³ Plays... Lost Marbles'

'Nerd³ Plays... Tony Hawk's Underground'
I hope it's not only through my eyes that "Hawk's" looks like it's got too few 's's :-D

'Nerd³ Challenges! Fire a Bus into Space! - OMSI 2'

'Nerd³'s Poop Games of 2014 Awards'

'Nerd³ Mods... GTA V - The God Mod'

'Nerd³ 101 - Jazzpunk'

'Nerd³'s Father and Son-Days - Mount Your Friends'
Best. Game. Everrrrr :-D

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 18-24/5/15

Hi toddlers,

'The ESF Top 10 New Species for 2015'

"An international committee of taxonomists selected the top 10 from among the approximately 18,000 new species named during the previous year and released the list to coincide with the May 23 birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy."

They're not awards for genetically engineered species, like a modern version of the Chelsea Flower Show, but just take a look at them - they're really quite funky :o)


The 27th of May marks Tapejara Day - the 3rd anniversary of this blog. Hooray to me :-D

In other news:

Have researchers discovered the first endothermic fish? (In layman's parlance, by the way, 'endothermic' means 'warm-blooded'). Well, almost. The Opah is a deep-living big-hearted muscular fish, that recycles warm blood from near the muscles that power its fins, and back around its body. This is how endothermy works - the use of internal metabolism to heat the body itself - but the effect in fish is localised. Some other species of fish have local endothermy, around their eyes, livers or swimming muscles, but it isn't yet clear whether the Opah really counts as fully endothermic, as some parts of its body stay cold at all times, and it still needs to return to the surface to warm its heart up. That means it's partially exothermic - dependent on heat from the environment. It doesn't have the self-heating power of mammals and birds, so i don't think it counts as a full ectoderm, but it's certainly a good case for demonstrating another non-discontinuity in classification of the world around us! Is it ectothermic? Is it endothermic? Yes. No. Both.

In Dubai, the police are literally untouchable*. Even if you're foreign; even if you're a tourist; even if you don't speak the local language and are struggling to communicate. I wonder whether this case has anything to do with the copper being female - Islamic superstition, etc. The Desert Dogmas don't generally tend to be too keen about touching women. #feministpatriarchy?
{*As long as you define 'untouchable' to mean 'denied by Human Law as well as Scientific Law' :-P }

Did a man really tickle a furry trout in the waters of Wisconsin, last month? And i'm not being euphemistical! Well, according to Snopes, the answer seems to be "no". The idea of a furry fish, while physically possible, is precedented only by hoaxes situated around the far north. In fact, the Royal Museum of Scotland featured a furry trout - which was actually a trout wrapped in rabbit fur - for a long time, until it was eventually revealed to be a hoax.

Staying in the water for a minute, let's speak with the octopusses, and ask them: "Did you know you can see with your skin? No? Well, you can". In fact, many species have sensory abilities where they don't think they do. Humans have smelling abilities in their lungs, skin, heart, liver and gut. But few of these sensors link up to the nervous system in a way that the brain can develop spatial awareness from them. The best that humans' lungs can do, is to identify the bitter taste of poisonous volatile chemicals (smoke) which produces a cramping sensation in the chest. In octopusses, their brains probably know very little of what their skin can see, even though their chromatophores do respond to light, using information from the light-sensing structures - opsins. Because these sensors aren't centralised, there isn't really a motive to develop a complex array of neurones, connecting them up - if smoke's in your lungs, it's in your lungs. You don't need to know where - just cough! Similarly, octopus skin just responds to light and shade, and like the primitive eyesights of the first seeing organisms, it doesn't need to provide much more information than that. Eyes are simply regions of the body that have been heavily developed for a specific purpose - seeing better than competitors and predators.

Oh dear. It's not been going well for the Torygraph recently, has it. This pseudoscientific anti-gaming propaganda piece claims, despite reality, that learning (how to play a game) somehow causes Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's being a disease, and therefore only one cause of dementia - dementia is the symptom that Alzheimer's Disease is known for. Obesity and lack of exercise is expected to cause a huge increase in incidence of dementia, as obese apathetic generations grow old, without Alzheimer's increasing at all. The study referred to is small and highly dubious, for many many reasons, but hey - manufactured technophobia appeals to the conservatism of Torygraph writers and readers, so its lies are worth money. As we've seen so many times, however, games that involve shooting aliens in the face often have more relevance to reality, than do the dangerously-ignorant scribblings that pass as 'journalism' in newspapers!

Even more ludicrously, the recent General Election in the UK has exposed the twisted, mangled ideological contortions going on behind the Torygraph's office doors. The link below leads to my photo (my camera > scanner, LOL) of an article in Private Eye - pretty much the UK's only news source that actually involves good journalism - that reports the weird diplomacy going on between the Torygraph's editors and its owners - the Barclay Brothers. The Paper itself is heavily allied to the Conservative Party (the Tories, hence the name) but Frederick Barclay is a staunched supporter of Tory 2.0 - he's a Ukipper. This led to a frontpage headline, engineered by the chief executive, lambasting UKIP and extolling the Conservatives, on the day following a 2-page spread advert for UKIP, in the form of a letter from Nigel Farage himself. So - Torygraph or Faragraph? And can we ever really know? The weird and greasy world of the Press is such an orgy of embarrassment :-/

Also from the Torygraph: the claims that WiFi makes kids ill, and smartphones cause autism. "Won't somebody please think of the children?" The entirety of available evidence says that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields is not harmful to human health. And this is borne out in testimonials too - people report harm from light (a synonym for 'electro-magnetic radiation') according to when they believe they are being harmed from it, regardless of whether it's even present. The symptoms, too, are generic symptoms, caused by anxiety: headaches, nausea, joint pain, abdominal pain, dehydration and diarrhoea. They're all causable by anxiety. And so 'light-bulb syndrome' as i call it, can be, and has been, associated with any and all kinds of new technology: WiFi, cell phones, light bulbs, vaccines, radios, televisions, wind farms... the list will probably never stop growing, as some people will continue to project blame for psychogenic symptoms, onto the subjects of their anxiety. It's just plain irresponsible of Media organisations to pander to their irrational fears, however, which can only worsen the sufferers' problems.

If scientists are patrolling the bullshitters, who's patrolling the scientists? Well, other scientists. Science doesn't tolerate fakery. In this case, one author of a paper suggested its retraction from publication, because their co-author's 'evidence' turned out not to exist! Also demonstrated in this case study, is the importance of replication by peers. The fraudulent author had replicated their own faked findings, with more faked findings - because, well, if you can do it the first time, you can probably do it the second time. This is why it's necessary, even in global nuclear physics research, for other people/organisations who do not share biasing motives, to replicate findings, before they can be believed.

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

'The Real Reality Show: The End of Life on Earth'
Student: "I'm sorry, sir - did you say million or billion?" Lecturer: "I said billion" Student: "Oh right, phew!" - an anecdotal exchange :-D

'Orkney - Island of the Future | Fully Charged'

'Why Raindrops Are Mathematically Impossible'

'Shelf Life Episode 7 - The Language Detectives'

'What is snot, earwax and eye sleep? - A Week in Science'

'Golden Rice and Why You Should Not Fund Greenpeace'
I watched right through to the end, though mostly for the music :-D

'How To Motion Capture'
Somehow, they turn a fascinating subject into an amazingly infantile video :-D

'Lesbian Eats Asian'
This video's not what you think it is :-P

'Source Of Confusion : Coconut Water | The Checkout'

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

Word Of The Week: psychopomp -- a creature, spirit, angel, or deity, as featured in many religious mythologies, that escort freshly deceased people to 'the afterlife'

Etymology Of The Week: piggyback -- meaning 'carrying someone on your back'; from 'pickaback' which itself comes from 'pick pack' in the 1560s which meant 'like a pack'; 'pick' comes from the c.1200 definition of 'thrust/fasten' via 'pitch' with the meaning of 'work' (as in 'pitch in' or 'pitch a tent') and in which the past tense of 'pitch' was 'pight', with 'pight' presumably being pronounced as in the Scots/Dutch 'nicht'

Quote Of The Week: "False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing." - Joseph de Maistre

Fact Of The Week: The Empire State's spire was initially designed to moor airships. It was, of course, made obsolete by the decline in the airship industry, following disastrous burnings, amidst the comparable safety of aeroplanes. Since the completion of the Empire State Building in 1932, however, the '103rd floor' has been used to transmit all of New York's radio station frequencies, which it continues to do, to this day. (via)

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

'Ultimate Gameshow Moments - Bullseye'

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 11-17/5/15

Hi subtitlers,

Grab your kitchen mits, and prepare to facepalm, because...

Solar Freakin' Roadways are back!

Except this time, they're Solar Freakin' Cycle Paths.

And they've already noticed the high cost of running them:

"The coating on the solar cells' protective glass tends to peel off when the weather changes, for example, suggesting that the path could be expensive to maintain as-is."

It's noteable, however, that bicycles are nowhere near as heavy as automobiles, so this Dutch project might have a modicum of success.

But even if it does, it looks like it'll be a pyrrhic victory anyway - the mineral use and replacement costs will likely dwarf the energy benefits.

If you've forgotten what Solar Freakin' Roadways were, then you can find links in my writings on it, published this time last year:

'Comment #26: -- Is Solar Freakin' Roadways a scam?'

I spent some time, yesterday, putting subtitles on my YouTube uploads. The ones i've done so far are:

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

'Gandhi Was NOT Enlightened [Homeopathy Awareness Week]'

'Richard Herring: Cock stories from 'Talking Cock''

Richard can be a bit of a mumbler, which is why i actually did that one first :o)

So now, if you're hard of hearing, you don't have to just stare at the slideshow i put behind them - you can actually find out what's going on, in the audio!

Aren't i nice ;-)

Plus, because they're uploads from podcasts, you're getting content you might not have had access to before. So that's something for the smug bank, for me, LOL

Enjoy :o)


The 12th of May is the Kepler Space Telescope's sixth anniversary

In other news:

Kepler's current mission is to study the outer-Solar System objects around Neptune. This video shows Neptune and two of its moons - Triton and Nereid - in 70 days of uninterrupted observation, making it one of the longer continuous studies of an outer solar system object. The motion of Neptune, in the video, is caused by Kepler's orbit around the Sun, as Neptune itself, being so far away from it, progresses very little in just 70 days.

If you didn't spot an adolescent for the last 2-3 days, it might be because they're a teenage tearaway who must be controlled, and because of your lazy parenting practices has gone off to play... [dun dun durrr]... the 'Game of 72' [screams]. According to the Fail, Diana, and Mirror, the 'Game of 72' is a fad game causing teenagers to go "missing for 72 hours". Except, there's no evidence that anyone's actually done it! Rather oddly, the Torygraph has gone with a piece advising kids on how to play it "because we always played out when i was a girl" presumably; which still rests on the premise that any teenagers out there want to play it at all. You might have noticed a fad reduction in journalistic standards recently, though, in which journos' brains go missing. It's called the 'Game of 72 Years' and has yet to finish :-P

Again according to the Torygraph, fishermen off Devon, UK, have recently caught a massive 10-metre-long conger eel. That's some feat. It's also an impressive feat that they managed to fit it on a 1x1 metre pallet! And a not so impressive feat to sell a clickbait-chasing 'paper a hoax story, using a tightly-cropped photo for forced perspective. LOL. Conger eels generally grow up to 3 metres long, and this one is really more like 2. Keep up those journalistic standards, guys. You're showing the tabloids how it's done :-D

Unless you really have a metaphorical-goldfish memory, where memories go missing for 7.2 seconds, then you might have remembered that story about the fictional teenage fad for going missing for 72 hours. Well, forget the teenagers who aren't doing that, because adults have plenty of bullshit fads of their own. For example, take the latest one to be endorsed by serial nutbag Gwyneth Paltrow: charcoal. Not just eating it, but putting it in things. Drinks, mostly. For example, a gritty greyed gloop called 'charcoal lemonade'. Umm, no. No thank you. Why does anyone make this up in the first place? Well, it's because of their dangerous belief in 'detox'. Remember that your liver is the only thing that can do detoxification - if you add herbal poisons to your system, it just gives it more work to do. But then, starving won't help either!

Here's a mundane yet comic example of a 'religious disagreement', this time in New Zealand, between a Hindu bigot who's put up a massive statue, and a Christian bigot who doesn't like seeing it from their garden. "Do you need a reason to pray? I don't think so." says the Hinduist. In fact, it helps. Neither party is being reasonable, LOL. Huge statues aren't a predicate for prayer; and unless it has weaponry installed, it can't be offensive in any way. "it cost me an arm and a leg. I don't want to put a price on god" they carry on. Apart from the price of 'an arm and a leg' that they just put on it. LMAO

Have you heard of hookahs? No, not hookers - hookahs. They're a method of combusting tobacco (or potentially any poisonous plant) to inhale the volatile particles and gases given off as side-effects of the combustion. Apparently, the use of hookahs - a 16th-century invention - is catching on with younger nicotine addicts, who think it's safer than tobacco-containing cigarettes. These researchers have found that, even if it compares well, no-one should be deceived into thinking it completely safe. They've found evidence that, on top of the poisonous properties of the smoke itself, the combustion of charcoal to generate the steamy smoke releases varying amounts of chromium, nickel, copper, arsenic, cadmium and lead, which can have additional toxic effects. So be careful what you suck on, boys and girls :-P

In the same week that we hear about a single gene majorly influencing the shape of birds/reptiles' beaks/snouts, we have a story about a dinosaur with quite an exceptional snout. Saurornitholestes sullivani was similar to the Velociraptors made famous by the Jurassic Park movies (in that their name was used, and everything else taken from Deinonychus... except for the feathers) but with a larger braincase around the area of the olfactory bulb, which implies a better sense of smell. With all other factors the same, it would have had a superior sense of smell to other dromaeosaurids, including Velociraptor, Dromaeosaurus, and Bambiraptor. It's a noteable caveat that lack of diversity in smell receptors, or lack of number of receptors, can partially compensate for, or be compensated by, a smaller/larger olfactory bulb, so S. sullivani might not necessarily have had a hugely superior sense of smell to its peers. In fact, having a greater range of smells to pick up on requires greater brainpower, and therefore a larger olfactory bulb. Further research in extant species might find that a human-type slimmed-down smell sensitivity is more apt to the lifestyle of a species like homo sapiens. A month ago, i reported on Llallawavis scagliai - the 'terror bird' of South America, that had poor hearing. By being able to hear best only in a thin range, it excluded irrelevant data from its perception, and thereby enhanced its ability to hunt! If dromaeosaurids had broad senses of smell, it might have been because they had to, but at the expense of acuteness of perception.

Ecuadorians have officially broken a world record, according to the Guinness Book of Records Ecuadorian government: for deforestation. No, sorry - i mean reforestation. According to their Environment Minister, 44,883 people planted trees on more than 2,000 hectares of land. There's no mention on the GWR website yet, so we'll have to see whether it gets verified.

And to round the News off, Stephen Hawking is due to appear at Glastonbury. I except dubstep, Steve. Don't let me down ;-)

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

'Hitler's nuclear pile - WWII uranium cube reactor & the Alsos mission: Atomkeller Haigerloch'

'Cosmic Adventures episode 25: Stupid Names in Astronomy'

'Exactly a Yard - Objectivity #19'

'Après la Scène Culte'

'Hubble catches a stellar exodus in action'

'NASA image: Early morning sunrise over the Grand Canyon'

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

Word Of The Week: mendacity -- the fact or condition of untruthfullness / dishonesty

Quote Of The Week: "I shall speak and converse with you on the following condition: viz., that unless you are compelled by reason, you will reject as unimportant everything you will hear from me." - Nicholas of Cusa, in 'On God as Not-Other', with a 1462 CE advocation of Rationalism

Fact Of The Week: In the last episode of the original Hannah-Berbera series of Tom & Jerry, both the main characters commit suicide, having both broken up with their respective girlfriends. It's the only episode to have a tragic storyline. The episode is also narrated by Tom, as an inner-monologue.

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

'The Two Ronnies - 2000 Today'

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 4-10/5/15

Hi beaners and 'barbers,

From the last issue of the SGU:

'Pseudoscience or Fiction'

Instead of the usual quiz, where you have to work out which two are science, and which one is fiction, in this rendition, you have to work out which is the fake fake, amongst the real fakes. Understand?

To clarify: a pseudoscience is a superstition dressed up to look like science, and so is not science. Two of these pseudosciences are non-sciences purported to be sciences, whereas the other is a non-science that is not purported to be a science, and so is a fake pseudoscience - a pseudoscience that although not not fake, is not truly purported as a science.


Anyway, i thought it was fun, and i thought you might like to share in it, if you don't listen to the SGU. So here are the options:

#1: The Bates Vision Correction System claims to correct vision by staring in particular compass directions, aligning the eyes with the Earth's magnetic field.
#2: Dr. Randell Mills claims that he has a process to make hydrogen atoms shrink into "hydrinos," providing a source of free energy.
#3: The "New Chronology" claims that events attributed to ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian culture actually occurred in the Middle Ages and that recorded human history began around 800 AD.

Which is the fake fake? That the Bates Vision Correction System is a real thing; that Randell Mills really claims that; or that there's a purported 'New Chronology'?

The correct answer is at the bottom of the page...

So, the UK's General Election has gone, and this man, perhaps sadly, did not win it. I do think there should, just occasionally, be a genuine human being as Prime Minister of the UK. But maybe that's asking too much :-D

'Ed Miliband being amazingly human on Absolute Radio'

Ed Milibean (as he's depicted in Private Eye) has taken a lot of ad hominem pseudo-criticism for his appearance, his voice, and the way he eats sandwiches, over the last five years.

And, to be honest, i'd expect nothing less puerile from the conservative-with-a-lower-case-c types who've issued it. Defence of him, however, has been lacking.

I posited, quite a while ago now, that that might be due to a kind of non-stereotype withdrawal process.

We all expect pollies to be airbrushed Thunderbird doll-like cartoon characters, who talk the talk (of some other language, most of the time), and walk the walk (toward the lectern, to prattle at us), and grin the grin whenever and wherever they are.

But Ed Miliband's different. He isn't a blow-up doll. He doesn't have pretentions of authority. He doesn't have a trained smile that he can whip out at any time, just to look photogenic, even if it is 6 o'clock and he's on some dull morning TV talkshow.

And that makes him different, in an ocean of airbrushed Party drones. Oh, he has the hands and the suit, and the TV people put makeup on everyone, but he's nowhere near 'a finished job'.

Hence the withdrawal symptoms. We all expect him to be polished, and... well, drearily trite. Just like the rest. So that we can mock him for it. But we can't. We have to mock him for something else. For being genuinely like the rest of us!

I remember a documentary - i think maybe for Spitting Image - where someone remarked on the nature of satirising nice people.

If you're being satirised for how you look, then that's actually a good thing, because it means you're not being satirised for what you do.

If you're being satirised for what you do, then the satire is calling your moral character into question, and that is much much worse.

So farewell, Ed. And we can only cross our fingers that there might be another like you, somewhere amongst the ever-rising hordes.

'respecting beliefs' - theramin trees

Yet another masterpiece. He goes fast, though, so the pause icon might come in handy :-)

Don't be distracted by the way he uses religion as the test subject. Religion isn't peculiar - everything he says is applicable much more broadly than you might think.

There's a big difference between respecting people and respecting beliefs. It's often necessary to disrespect beliefs, in order to show due respect to people.

'Red Dwarf Series XI and XII Announced!'

This is Bobby Llew's own post on it. I know i mentioned it last week, way back when it was topical :-P

In other news:

A Federal Appeals Court has ruled the NSA's activities - regarding all USA citizens' cell phone communications as 'open access' - to be illegal, as it is not authorised by the legislation that its creators cited to implement it: Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. It hasn't yet been ruled, however, on whether any other part of the USA's Constitution could rule it lawful, so the NSA should effectively expire on the 1st of June, unless Congress finds some loophole to excuse its perpetuation.

Bears walking like that isn't new; so here's something genuinely crazy - fake 'cancer updates' pretending to be from John Hopkins Hospital. Which doesn't exist. There's a University and a Medical Centre, but no JH Hospital.

A diabetic child has died at 7 years old, while on the table of a slapping quack. That isn't an obscure British idiom, like stonking/corking - "the guy's a bally quack, old man" - it's an actual thing that actual quacks actually do. Now, we should be clear that the slapping in question likely didn't cause the death of the child, but given that their guardian was an I-SCAM industry sympathiser (and they must have been, or the kid wouldn't have been in the abuser's hands), it seems plausible that they neglected proper care for diabetes in preference for an ineffective pseudoscience, and thus killed their child through neglect. It is precedented. The pseudoscience of the non-therapy is that slapping until bruises form is somehow corrective the non-existent 'qi' that doesn't run through the body, and can't do anything. For a lot of guesses, it sure can be costly.

You might have seen trailers for the latest Sup-Fi (superstition-fiction) movie - The Enfield Haunting - starring Timothy Spall as the one who's 'wrong'. Well, as if the movie didn't promise to be bad enough, it seems they've been lying for publicity, too. Poltergeist / Exorcist / Amityville have all played this trick too. A bit pathetic really, isn't it. But i suppose the kinds of people who are likely to be inspired to see the film, are also likely to believe there's verity to bullshit 'real' ghost stories.

A study of the memetic diversity in popular music, over the last half century, has found that: the so-called "British Invasion" of US pop music by groups such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, did not start a rock revolution, but only followed existing trends; the greatest musical revolution in US pop history was actually in 1991, when hip-hop became pop; 1986 was the least-diverse year for music, maybe due to the introduction of drum machines; and there is no evidence of homogenisation in music, in the 21st century. The researchers studied lyric diversity, chord-progression patterns, and changes in musical tones, to develop an objective metric for evaluating changes in music over the last 50 years. of course, there's plenty of room for subjectivising the analysis, and thereby undermining its worth, but it's better than entirely-subjective intuition.

Heard that story about researchers finding feacal matter in men's beards? Well, it was shit all the way through. Literally. Not literally. Metaphorically. There was no poo; there was no research; there were no researchers; and there was no integrity in the minds of those who sold the story. The non-research was conducted by some guys doing a thing for a TV show, in which they found bacteria. Just bacteria. Bacteria live everywhere, and most of them are benign or symbiotic with other (eukaryotic) organisms. The fact that some of the bacteria found by the non-researchers are also found in the gut, doesn't mean those men ever had poo in their beards!

This story's especially appealling to anyone, like me, who has a preset loathing for Intellectual Property law. Personal Audio LLC - a Texas-based company - has received a slap in the face from the US Patent Office, having been told that they have no legal claim to patents on podcasts. The actual patent was for repeating publications of audio content... which is as vague as anything can possibly be. But large companies have departments devoted to buying up IP (Intellectual Property) on things like this, and there are whole companies set up specifically to patent/copyright things that simply shouldn't be IPed, including a myriad of things that do not yet exist, nor might they ever exist. IP law crushes creativity and development, by denying people from using others' technology, so they can't build anything with it, or experiment with it. These 'patent trolls', unlike internet trolls, are not doing it for the lulz - they are genuinely malevolent organisations, seeking to suppress creative progress for the sake of profit. They are the worst kinds of entrepreneurs, ans should be stopped.

But here's a properly interesting technological development. Well, as long it's not the joke that it appears to be - miniaturised qwerty keyboards for bendy wearable hardware! The developers are experimenting with screen sizes between 16 and 32mm square, and the keyboard is used by pressing a finger against it, rolling your finger towards the desired letter if it isn't highlighted, and then releasing your finger to select the letter. It could just work, LOL. Click here to see a video of the thing being used.

Compiling a 'dentist's handbook' for penis worms. Possibly one of the scariest article titles a man can read. But don't worry, chaps - they're not called 'penis worms' for that reason! They're called penis worms because they're penis shaped, with a kind of foreskin-like oral structure, that is... lined with teeth! Vagina dentata might be a thing of nightmares, but penisia dentata is a thing of reality. Penis worms lived in the Cambrian era, 500 million years ago, and would invert their mouths, to use their teeth to drag them around. In a world of soft-bodied organisms, teeth greatly increased the likelihood of the tiny beasts' existence being made evident. It was those soft-bodied organisms that the penis worms would prey on. Using SEMs (Scanning Electron Microscopes) to study the teeth has provided palaeontologists with the ability to distinguish teeth from other hard bodies, and to identify differences in species around the world, and to better work out the diversity in those charismatically scary animals. Oh, and just in case your fear of them was waning - they still exist, today! But because the contemporary environments of the world are so different, they generally only live in the more extreme underwater environments. So sleep well :-P

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

'The Real Reality Show: How the Sun Will Die'

'Chernobyl New Safe Confinement (NSC) 2015 - "Арка" shelter of Reactor 4'

'Optical Illusions - Objectivity #18'

'The New Yellow - Periodic Table of Videos'

'DIY 3 Phase Motor'

'Deep Freeze Crush Test-Apple'

'BMW i8 | Fully Charged'

I hope he didn't let the Cat in that nice clean car ;-)

‘Cherax (Astaconephrops) pulcher, a new species of freshwater crayfish’

'Solar Dynamics Observatory sees 'Cinco de Mayo' solar flare'

'Image: SOHO captures bright filament eruption'

'MESSENGER reveals Mercury's magnetic field secrets'

'Look, Dobbin - it's got an astrolabe!'

'Consumer Dictionary : Natural | The Checkout'

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

Word Of The Week: vainglorious -- filled with excessive elation or pride over one's own achievements, abilities; boastful vanity.

Etymology Of The Week: smegma -- meaning 'the cheesey-smelling pus-like deposits that can be found around the genitals of humans; comes from the greek 'smegma' meaning 'soap' and originally from the verb 'smekhein' meaning 'to wipe/cleanse'

Red Dwarf Etymology Of The Week: Smeghead -- derived from the word 'head' meaning the cephallic structure at the top of most vertebrate animals; and the word 'smeg', see above :-P

Quote Of The Week: "Biographical history, as taught in our public schools, is still largely a history of boneheads: ridiculous kings and queens, paranoid political leaders, compulsive voyagers, ignorant generals, the flotsam and jetsam of historical currents. The men who radically altered history, the great creative scientists and mathematicians, are seldom mentioned, if at all." - Martin Gardner, mathematician and writer (1914-2010)

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

'The Rhubarb Tart Song'
I love this song so much :-D

{The song was first sung on ISIRTA (I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again) in 1966, and was then realeased on a 45" in 1967}

'That YouGov parlour game is wrong. This annoys me.'
Yeah, you tell 'em, Ben. The game makes so much more sense, like that, too.

'Bill Gates counts to ten'

'Polos opuestos' (Poles Apart)
"Look at those teenagers, wearing their trousers like a couple of idiots"

'4 y ½'

Pareidolia x2:

'Cráter Galle (o happy face) en Marte'

'Freaking News: La mejor sombra del mundo es argentina'

Some 18th century news, for your delight...

Hereford man loses cow and wife in two days:

Affairs beyond the Peerage set to provide addition:

Scientist desires equipment to study atmosphere at various heights:

The production standards are low. But the comedy standards are good :-D

'Annoying PPI Adverts'

'In My Tum'

It's not a sandwich shop, LOL.

'It's a Bin'

'Traffic Jams'

'I've got a Green Cacti - Sing It!'
Random :-D

'Umbrella Time - Get your brolly out! - Great British Weather'

'Middle Lane Drivers - Keep left plonkers!'

The answer to ''Pseudoscience or Fiction':

#1: (fiction) The Bates Vision Correction System claims to correct vision by staring in particular compass directions, aligning the eyes with the Earth's magnetic field.
#2: (pseudoscience) Dr. Randell Mills claims that he has a process to make hydrogen atoms shrink into "hydrinos," providing a source of free energy.
#3: (pseudoscience) The "New Chronology" claims that events attributed to ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian culture actually occurred in the Middle Ages and that recorded human history began around 800 AD.

There are plenty of quack non-ways to improve your vision, but as of now, none that involve compass directions. Staring into the Sun, yes; staring into the magnetic Poles, no!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 27/4 - 3/5/15

Hi ugly voters,

So, for the people who have votes to throw at the UK government, another General Election is just around the corner.

To be honest, i haven't done that much thinking about who to vote for, this time around. Why? Well, of the Party candidates:

- Three are unavailable

- Two are inconsiderable

- And two are plain unacceptable

And that leaves just one Party to vote for, through their chosen and supposedly obedient drone.

They might not be anywhere near what i'd consider to be a 'good' option, but they're the least worst option, and that's what counts.

In a democracy, if you waste your vote, then you're just handing away the one small scrap of power that you had to lose, so it really doesn't make sense to not vote at all (or even to spoil a ballot) whether you say/believe "a pox on all your houses" or not. the ballot depository!

Woah, woah, wait a moment. Do you even know what Politics is?

Maybe you can't be bothered to pay attention. Maybe you think it's too boring.

Well, here's Jay Foreman (and hidden colludors) to unboringify Politics for you, and put some vim in your cheeks...

'Politics Unboringed - Why do people who don't vote not vote?'
This, of course, doesn't apply in countries like Australia, where people have to vote, or those where people or environmental/diplomatic forces physically prevent people from voting.

'Politics Unboringed - Whom should I vote for?'

'Politics Unboringed - What is tactical voting?'

'Politics Unboringed - How does it all work?'

'Politics Unboringed - Why don't politicians answer questions?'

And there you have it. Five episodes thus far, and (almost) all you need to know about Politics unboringed.

'Stop Sainsbury's from destroying the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem'

Now there's a rhetorical petition title!

Sainsbury's is the joint-second largest supermarket in the UK, and so anything they stock will be produced on a large scale. But there are two important points to this industry:

One - krill genuinely are hugely important to marine ecosystems, as they feed whales, and whales redistribute biomass around the seas (when they die) which means they help various marine ecosystems to thrive.

Two - we now know that the already-dodgily-marketed omega-3 fish oil pills are sold fraudulently, as they don't work.

But then, Boots still sells damp sugar, so why would Sainsbury's care about fish oil?

Is there anything uglier than a multinational corporation, with profits of ~£600 million per year, fraudulently extorting money out of people while trashing the environment at the same time?

Well, maybe an international criminal organisation that extorts money out of people through a range of fraudulent claims ranging from 'inner peace' to immortality, that has garnered it with an investment portfolio worth £5-8 billion, depending on which BBC article you read.

Yes, the Cult of England, which is so poor that it has to have a perpetual public whip-round to fund the upkeep of its prime cathedral, in Canterbury (and one of the most famous in the world, at least by name) actually sits on enough money to pay everyone in the entire UK, whatever their age, £78 per head.

They've invested in all kinds of 'unholy' businesses in the past: dodgy mining companies, fossil fuel companies, etc. And now they're having pangs of guilt about investing in fossil fuels!

£12 million of their investments in fossil fuels apparently has to go, as God's love can't afford to be tainted by 0.0024 of His investment portfolio. It was a bit wonky of Him to inspire them to invest in such a way, in the first place.

Not to mention how slightly (and i'm being very idiomatically British when i say 'slightly') weird it is that an organisation that is supposedly dedicated to and therefore supported by an omnipotent, benevolent deity, could possibly need to have an investment portfolio at all.

Remember all of this, won't you, in case you ever hear one of its bigots say "consider the lilies" to the poor.

You are corruptable by wealth, but a bunch of holier-than-thou theocratic charlatans who've dedicated their lives to 'the glory of god' can hoard it with impunity!

But is there anything even uglier than that?

Well, you could try feeding your kids bleach, through the superstitious belief that it's a miracle cure for autism! Oh yes, that is indeed a thing...

'#074 - Stop giving Autistic children bleach'
Not a rhetorical title!

Alas, there couldn't possibly be anything even more monstrously ugly, still. Could there?

Well, apparently, feminists are...

'Know Your Meme - #FeministsAreUgly'

In yet another campaign by feminist slacktivists, the sex-factionalised sexists have taken it to task to chastise themselves for starting a meme that they later deemed to be demeaning to themselves.

I won't say 'egotistical'. Oops, i just did.

@LilyBolourian started the whole thing, to point out how beautiful she is. Unlike the feminists of masculist stereotype. I won't say 'egotistical'. Oops, i've done it again.

That means, of course, that she was using the hashtag sarcastically.

Yes, sarcasm. Because that's easy to get across in plain text, isn't it. Yes. M-hm. Very easy. See, i'm doing it now. Confusing, isn't it. Indeed. <s>

The whole thing originated in one feminist's conceited attempt to strut her inability to understand the incommunicability of sarcasm in text, and was subsequently taken up by other feminists, who'd decided that the hashtag must not have been originated by a feminist, but instead must have been originated by one of those nasty mans, to whom a point must be proved.

Cue pictures of people again applying the hashtag #feministsareugly sarcastically, while thinking that pictures of their glorious selves would prove the sarcastic element to be extant. I won't say 'egotistical'. Oops, i just can't seem to stop myself, can i.

So there you have it: a feminist meme, chastising itself, for doing itself, made by the same ideologues who are now condemning it, and claiming that the meme they're now exhorting and condemning is the reason they must have been feminists all along.

Aaaargh. The stupidity. It burns!!!

Could something please rescue me from the agonising torture of a bunch of no-hoper idiots, perpetually satirising themselves?

Yes, something can. And it's official. Red Dwarf is to return... again, and again again!

'Red Dwarf Returns... Twice!'

There's nothing like a bunch of designedly despisable washed-up spacebums, to take your mind off the real stupidity, in the real world, just outside your Windows 7 :-D

[relaxes and slumps in chair]


The 3rd-9th of May marks 'Privacy Awareness Week' which you've probably never heard of because. well, the organisers like to keep it to themselves. "Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities forum (APPA) held every year to promote awareness of privacy issues and the importance of the protection of personal information."

The 175th anniversary of the Penny Black - the world's first adhesive postage stamp. The world's first known stamp, of any kind, was also a Londonian invention, when William Dockwra and Robert Murray invented the London Penny Post in which prepaid delivery was notified by franking an attached piece of paper using a handstamp.

On the 2nd of October 1798, the Chester Courant proudly proclaimed the Sun to be inhabited, as Herschel - the astronomer - had seen features on its surface "200 leagues in height". Science standards in journalism have not fallen. What a grand tradition :-D

On the 1st of April 2010, a Court in the UK ruled that Simon Singh could use the term "bogus" to describe Chiropractic pseudoscience. On the 15th of April, the British Chiropractic Association abandoned their case against him. The result has been a major milestone in the reform of UK Libel Law, and has encouraged further progress around the world.

The 350th anniversary of the Scientific Journal 'Philosophical Transactions'. To see more info, look at 'Objectivity #17' in 'contemporary stuff'...

In other news:

LOLZ. Numerological superstition in religion. A christian woman has apparently been 'horrified' by her numberplate exhibiting the figure '6' three times... contiguously [gasp]. Which obviously means... bugger all, and she should really get a grip on reality.

The things people do for the lulz! Why on Sagan's pale blue dot would you spontaneously brick up just one set of doors on a train? Why??

Blackballed ex-GP and world-famous anti-vaccine fraudster Andrew Wakefield has put in a bid to prove that he's even more stupid than previously believed. Even though he's widely recognised as an untrustable, immensely corrupt source, he's accepted gigs to speak at, among other places, Life Chiropractic College West in California. "Chiropractic?" you're thinking. The back experts? Why would they be involved with him? Well, Chiroquacktic perpetrators have a strong streak of sympathy with the anti-vaccine movement, as their form of quackery is actually ideological - it's not just about backs. Many Chiropractors reject all of the tenets of Medicine, in order to replace it with their subluxation-based bullshit. So now you know. Chiropractors' anti-vaccine ebullience runs deep.

The Torygraph (a Conservative Party allying Newspaper based in the UK) has issued a convenient story (for EU-phobes in the Party) claiming that a new EU commandment "orders" farmers to use damp sugar in preference to medicine. Is it true? Hah - don't be silly. Of course it isn't. For a start, the legislation in question is about a decade old, and for second, it doesn't prohibit the use of proper medicine at all. Damp sugar is merely an addition to the bottom of a list of (priority-ordered) treatments that farmers labelling themselves 'Organic' can/should use. Nothing more. Also, the supposed complainants were Norwegian vets (Norway isn't even in the EU) and also also, 'organic' is bullshit anyway, so it doesn't even matter. But yuppyish Torygraph readers probably think it's really important, because "ponies like my Juniper simply won't eat anything cheaper, rah". #snobsareugly

A meeting has been held between officials from Shell and representatives of the people of Bodo in the Niger Delta, and attended by officials of the Dutch embassy, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), Amnesty International and some local activists, to discuss clean-up operations from oil-spills that began in 2008. Apparently, almost all of the 15,600 people affected by the spills have been compensated, and the clean-up itself is to be dealt with by the same contractor that is dealing with the spills in the Gulf of Mexico. The compensation is a pittance for Shell, but three years' wages for the locals, who have not been left demonstrably better off by the fossil fuel industry exploiting their homeland.

The owners of the former estate of Josef Goebbels - the Nazi head of propaganda until his suicide in 1945 - are suing a publisher that they say owes them royalties for use of extracts of his speeches. You might think that that's OK, because 'it's only Goebbels' but if you think like that, you are dehumanising them, and thereby mimicking the same technique they had to use to convince themselves it was OK to subjugate and eventually murder all those non-Christians, Queers, etc. Either Intellectual Property law is applicable to all entities, or it is not. Personal distaste mustn't influence whether the self-defeating principles of IP should be revoked/applied in any particular case. There seems no good reason why non-authors should profit by royalties due to an author, but if you want to stop it, then you should campaign against the principle - not the man. This should also apply to non-personal financial entities, such as WKSEs...

The European Commission has decided to proceed with a charge against Google, for abusing its market position, treatment of personal data, and manipulation to suit its own services. The US's FTC failed, in 1998, to do similar against Microsoft, but back then they were non-prescient to the effects of applying 19th century antitrust laws to the 21st century. This time will be different. But how different?
"To demonstrate Google has abused its dominance the commission may need to call upon economists, engineers, investigative journalists and perhaps even sociologists. It will need to define the markets in which Google acts. General search may be a relatively established market, but what about vertical search, or social search? It will need to translate competition law to a digital environment, to understand how algorithms work, and the extent to which Google's algorithms favour the company, and to show evidence of abuse. It will also need to establish whether Google's actions have damaged "consumer welfare"."
The best result would be a change to generalised legal principles relating to web-based organisations, that have the power to abuse their customers/users. The Commission will come under a lot of pressure from industry lobbyists, keen to keep themselves free from regulations requiring them to be kind and considerate in the way they behave - either through objection to the legal principles per se, or through objection to their application beyond Google.

According to a WHO announcement this week, air pollution in Europe costs it US$1.6 trillion per year, through the effects of morbidity and eventual mortality. This is apparently equivalent to a tenth of the EU's gross domestic product for 2012. WHO-Europe estimates that 600,000 people died prematurely in 53 European countries in 2010 due to fine particles emitted by vehicles and industries and from burning fuels in homes. Pollution also causes heart and lung diseases, as well as strokes and cancers. Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan face costs of between a third and a quarter of their economic production due to pollution.$-1.6-trillion-a-year-in-diseases-and-deaths,-new-who-study-says

I doubt, however, that it's due to these costs that the signatory States to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which was pioneered to fund actions to mitigate ensuing climatic changes. The target was US$4.7 billion and the sum total of the 30 signatories has been just US$4 billion. The USA, Japan, Canada and Australia haven't even signed the agreement. You can see from the figures on the costs of air pollution, that it's not a problem of lack of fiscal prowess - if they have $1.6 trillion to spend, against their will, on looking after people who needn't have got sick in the first place, then they can scrimp a few thousands of that figure for fighting climatic change. Just like with inequality, we're serially fobbed off with "we're broke, sorry" when in fact, we're faced with profit-motivated waste, and indolent profligacy. The capital is there - it's just being wasted.

The MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) mission to investigate Mercury, after ten years of spaceflight, has finally come to an end. Having run out of fuel, it crash landed into Mercury's surface, last thursday, pulled in by the Sun's gravitational field. Four Earth-years and 4105 orbits around Mercury have provided plenty of data for researchers to dig into, so MESSENGER mission's work is still not really done. Such is the life of a space mission. Among its many accomplishments, the MESSENGER mission determined Mercury’s surface composition, revealed its geological history, discovered its internal magnetic field is offset from the planet’s center, and verified its polar deposits are dominantly water ice. Here is MESSENGER's final image.

From spaceflight, to the origin of flight itself. Yi qi (meaning 'strange wing' in Mandarin) was an early pigeon-sized 'experimental' species that evolution came up with as an early attempt at flight. It had feathers on its body, but membranous wings -- hence the name. It's not currently believed to be an intermediate species between non-avian dinosaurs and the avian dinosaurs whose descendants live on today, as this form is clearly not one that succeeded, but it is classified as a Scansoriopterygid, making it a cousin of Archaeopteryx, and a great example of evolutionary experimentation. It's unlikely that it would have flown, as it likely never flapped, but it had a good stabilising tail, and so would probably have had the ability to glide, from tree to tree maybe, the way modern flying lemurs do. To see a video about flight, follow the link.

Evolution, of course, continues today. All species that share a habitat will exert some form of environmental pressure on its neighbours, if not an evolutionary one - one that pressures its genome to change, in adaptation - but many do. Dogs and deer, for example, are only so good at running, because their ancestors provided evolutionary pressure to escape/catch up with each other. And for the last ~4000 years, humans have imposed evolutionary pressure on various species, causing them to become more convenient to us, rather than less. This is called artificial selection, and is being employed by a Dutch company, who's been seeking to develop potatoes that can grow in high-saline conditions. It's not as precise, nor safe, as engineering, but means the possible development of varieties that can survive seawater flooding, and thereby shield people from the starvation that can ensue when floods happen. The team involved, however, doesn't seem to understand that this process is genetic modification (the genome is modified by the evolutionary pressure they place on it) but that doesn't change the fact that this is yet another case of Genetic Modification FTW :-D

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

'World's Oldest Science Journal - Objectivity #17'
With a special sciencey guest, too :o)

'What Is 3 Phase?'

'Grebes running on water'
Take that, Jaysus! :-D

'Lyrebird mimics construction sounds'
Two-and-a-half minutes of the best mimicry you're ever going to hear. Clearly, they are our superiors, and should be worshipped as gods :-D

'Las Vegas isn't Las Vegas'

'Oslo to London for €5 | Fully Charged'

'Disneyland Ghost DEBUNK' - Captain Disillusion

'The Political Bible Presents: Clegg's Sexual Experiences With Dave'

'Russell Howard gets slammed by an audience member'
Not in that sense :-P

'Signs Of The Time : Free | The Checkout'

Too complicated for me. But you could probably give it a try :-D

'Premières Fois (Akim Omiri)'

'Realistic Wedding Vows - {The Kloons}'

'Team successfully observes the solar eclipse over the Arctic'

'Rock spire in 'Spirit of St. Louis Crater' on Mars'

'Video: An enormous "plasma snake" erupts from the Sun'

'The Checkout Season 3 Episode 4'

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

Word Of The Week: vespertilionize -- to turn into a bat; 'vespertilio' is a taxonomical name for a clade of bat species that are awake in the evenings; 'vesper' is latin for 'evening' and 'vespertilio' is latin for 'bat'.

Quote Of The Week: "Why do people say ‘grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you really want to get tough, grow a vagina. Those things take a pounding.” - Sheng Wang

Fact Of The Week: When people have Colds, they will, on average, give it to just one other person. This is because the abundance of Colds stays about the same, year to year to year. If the average were less than one, then Colds' abundances would fall away to zero; and if the average were greater than one, then Colds would become more and more abundant, until everybody had them, seemingly permanently! So it's mathematically necessary that the average number of people someone with a Cold will give it to, has to be ~1. When epidemiologists say this number is 2, or higher, for any one disease, it is on the understanding that it will maintain this number only temporarily. For an outbreak to subside, it must come down again.

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

'The Darkness Live in Boston - Living Each Day Blind (FIRST EVER LIVE PERFORMANCE) @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in Boston - With a Woman @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in Boston - She's Just a Girl, Eddie @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in Boston - Givin' Up + Stuck in a Rut @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in Boston - Get Your Hands Off My Woman @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in Boston - Love Is Only a Feeling @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in Boston - Growing on Me @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in Boston - Hazel Eyes @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in Boston - The Best Of Me @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in Boston - I Believe in a Thing Called Love @ Paradise'

'The Darkness Live in NYC - Nothing's Gonna Stop Us @ Terminal 5'

'The Darkness Live in NYC - Concrete @ Terminal 5'