Sunday, 28 June 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 22-28/6/15

Hi indominators,

So, i have seen Jurassic World (the movie) ...not Jurassic Park.

Well, i have seen Jurassic Park. But that was a long time ago, LOL.

I take it you want a sciencey nerdy review? Yes/no? You're getting one either way... :-P

[Beware: masses and masses and masses of spoilers!!!]

The film starts badly. I do not understand the first boom. I simply do not. Why? Why? Just why? #inappropriateboom :-P

But it quickly rises from there. The following birdy thing's a classic allusion to the evolutionary relationship between birds and dinosaurs.

An evolutionary relationship between birds and dinosaurs that quickly leads me to the subject of birds, and feathers. And their total absence from this movie.

And from there, to my own analyses of the film's scienceyness, and fictionyness.

Jurassic World is definitely sci-fi. We generally think of sci-fi being spacey and timey, but that's just physics-fi. Jurassic World is biology-fi.

What makes sci-fi such a difficult genre to compose in, is what makes it so respectable to achieve in: good sci-fi must always stick to the rules of reality, while constructing fictional scenarios that are entertaining. That's hard.

It's very hard, compared to, for example, Fantasy. In the Harry Potter Chronicles (as i insist on calling them) when Voldemort's defeated and the trio are standing in the rubble and carnage, instead of Harry waving his wand and cleaning everything up, he breaks the Elder Wand and leaves the job for someone else to do.

But hang on... this is magic we're talking about! What reason is there for him to need a wand at all?! How come people can turn into other people, or rats, or goblets of water, but goblets of water can't turn into them... or resurrected forms of Harry's parents, or now-dead friends!?

Writing in the Fantasy genre gave J.K.Rowling huge amounts of freedom, because she could make up the rules as she went along. Including, Dumbledore's ability to disapparate from somewhere he'd previously said it was impossible to disapparate from.

In sci-fi, you can't change the rules to suit - you have to stick with the ones in real life. So how well did Jurassic World do at being sciencey, and not just having sciencyness?

Back to the feathers.

We knew, long ago, that the dinos in this film would not have feathers. When it was still news, that information came as a disappointment to those who wanted the new film to reflect advances in evolutionary paleontology.

Since the original Jurassic Park film, birds have become widely recognised as avian dinosaurs, and more and more dinosaur species have been found to exhibit feathers. Not necessarily flight feathers, of course - just for display or insulation.

The original 'Jurassic Park' was lauded for its depictions of dinosaurs - with tails held high, and non-plasticene skin. But it was also slated on grounds of size, speed, and plot constructs: dilophosaurus' spitting and frill; velociraptor's hands; and T-Rex's running speed, were all made-up for show.

It's understandable that many dinosaur-literate people expected the franchise to advance, and incorporate what's been learned about dinosaurs, in the last two decades, and i agree that it's disappointing for the producers to favour continuity over realism.

But we should remember that the dinosaurs in the park have been genetically engineered anyway - their genomes were pieced together, from scratch, as reptile/amphibian hybrids. Which is another problem - genomes fragment over time, making 65-million-year-old genomes unworkable. Plus, they should have used avian genomes, for reasons that are now obvious.

Looks, however, were not their only problems. As you'll see, in one of the links below: 'How did Dinosaurs Sound', the sound-effects are quite dodgy too. Jurassic Park invented mammalian, throaty sounds, from mashing the calls of elephants and whales and things. Reptiles' throats are just different, and so they don't produce mammalian noises. Again, thinking 'birds' would have been the way to go.

But this is all about the old films. Jurassic World inevitably inherited a lot of bollocks from them. But where has it gone, from there? Has it really advanced?

My 'top threes' for goods and bads, in the 'science' of Jurassic World.


Number one: Flying reptiles attacking. The most grating element of the movie, to me, was the trope of 'things from above' attacking. We flying reptiles, like birds, are reluctant to go near other creatures, let alone swoop around benches, buildings, and flailing humans, for the sakes of our fragile wing membranes. This trope seems to have been introduced, purely for the sake of The Birds style amplification of scariness.

Number Two: Indominus Rex communicating. Indominus being able to communicate with other raptors is risible, and the second most grating element of the movie. It was clearly written in entirely for narrative, and despite realism. A premise for the I. rex being a psychopathic killing machine was that it had never had the opportunity to interact with other animals, and so could not have learned any communication skills or self control. The regions of its brain responsible would have been redeployed to other functions. The pseudorationalisation for this is that it's "part raptor" but imagine if you were part gorilla and raised in isolation. Would you, on your first meeting with a gorilla, instantly develop such adeptness in communicating with them, that you could guilefully persaude them to do your bidding? I don't think so. Raptors are made out to be super smart - i think they'd laugh at its pidgin raptor and attack with disdain.

Number Three: Mosasaurus' tongue. Mosasaurus, being a marine lizard, would most-likely have had a forked tongue. The Mosasaurs, along with most marine beasts of the time, were not dinosaurs, and so there's no reason for them to be presented alike.


Number one: Sciencey human was sciencey and human. The lead researcher, who'd done all the groundbreaking work into genetic construction, and hybridising modern dinosaurs to be like their distant ancestors, was not cast as a mad scientist. It was almost a minus when he actually said "i'm not a mad scientist" but i think, given the fact that he was defending himself from misappropriate blame, that that breach of the 'show, don't tell' rule (of thumb) can be dismissed. He showed enthusiasm for his work, acknowledgement of pleiotropy, and the human trait of doing what you're commissioned to do. He didn't do Evil Science because he was mad - he was commissioned, and insulted, and then fired, and consequently took the only exit made available to him, by the nauseating guy the raptors didn't like.

Number two: The fish are bigger. Yes, yes they are. But they're not always bigger in the films. The real Mosasauruses grew to 18 metres long, and, pardon my Australian, were built like brick shithouses. An Indominus Rex would have been no match for a Mosasaurus in its element - water. Modern orcas do beach themselves to grab prey, and Mosasaurus is thought to have had bad eyesight, making it more likely that it identified prey through surface shadows, such as I-Rex at the side of the pool. I think it would have been more plausible for the positioning to be slightly different than featured in the film, but now i'm knit-picking.

Number three: The Indominus' hybridisation. When i first saw the trailer, with Crocodile Dundee hypnotising the raptors, and the I-Rex made out to be Jurassic Godzilla, i worried for its design. But in-situ, it made a lot more sense. Its basic body genetics were clearly extracted, wholesale, from T-Rex, and so the look was hardly implausible - it wasn't just monstrously huge! I'm sure it's plausible to adjust genes relating to forelimbs, and to give it more raptory behavioural intuition through its neural development. And maybe, wariness and aggressiveness. Species like deer, that have to be fleet of foot (more like raptors) are far more anxious than, say, dodos, because they've evolved to be. There's clearly something genetic (or epigenetic) that can be engineered, in propensity for certain emotions. Both the pleiotropic elements mentioned are real, but i don't know enough about the specifics of genetics to know whether they're viable in practice. Nor though, do i think anyone else does, judging by the general infancy of genetic science. Cuttlefish do use camouflage, and frogs do emit infrared to cool down... but i'm not sure they can do it deliberately, to evade detection on thermal cameras. I think the way to do that is to stand against a hot background, so the camera can't tell the difference. Characters misjudging method, however, is perfectly plausible, as humans are not imperfect thinkers themselves.

Overall, the bio-fi of Jurassic Park has trod new ground, but not really advanced beyond the old movies. It's got more right, but it's also got more wrong, and it hasn't corrected old mistakes. If there's a single point to take away, about the biology in Jurassic World, it's that it's wasted opportunities to progress the Science in its content.

In answer to my two pointy questions: "has it advanced?" and "has it avoided scienceyness?" i'm going to say that it has advanced minorly, and that it has managed to avoid scienceyness. Or at least, it has advanced slightly more than it has disadvanced; and its scienceyness is mostly old, so what's new is mostly genuinely sciencey.

Does that make sense? I hope so. Whether you'll be happy with the content depends entirely on your expectations. I expected a JP I,II,III dino-romp and i saw slightly better than that, so i was happy with it. If you expect JW to have achieved massive advances over the old JPs, then you'll feel sorely disappointed.

That's the Biology and the History done. Now for the Sociology.

But do you really want that? To hear an egalitarian 'analyse' like a feminist? Examining all the BIGOTED tropes in which the girly womyn who's in charge is rescued by the man whom she employs, in a kind-of literal narrative rape. When a far more progressive narrative would have been to have all the grown men infantilised as victims, and a single, solitary 6-year-old girl fight off the I-Rex barefisted, and be worshipped by them as a GIRL AND A GOD the way proper men should. Know your place, and grovel before me!!! Rahhrrrr!!!!!

Nope. I'm not going to do that.

The only thing that really matters, is whether it's real. Is it realistic. Could it really happen that way? Entertainment doesn't have to pander to our optimist/pessimist fantasies to be entertaining, and entertainment never changed anything anyway. If it did, the murder mysteries that people love watching would say we were as murderously psychopathic as the I-Rex in this movie!

So, 'hetero-dontosaurus-normative' or not, how realistic were the tropes written into the characters? Who were they?

1 - The guy everyone wants to be or be with

2 - The guy who goes from zero to hero

3 - The kids that everybody hopes are going to live

4 - The hateable male adult that everybody hopes is going to die

5 - The owner of the shop who plays surprisingly little part

6 - The (level 2) subordinates who do stuff but not enough to care about them

7 - The (level 3) subordinates who are there just to die

8 - The (level 4) subordinates who are just extras

1: They did have a manly man save everyone, but frankly [whimpers] he was pretty good as a character, wasn't he. He wasn't mean. He wasn't a nymphomaniac. He wasn't even bland, goddamnit! He was a cross between Alan Grant, Ian Malcolm, and Crocodile Dundee, and as 'fratty' as i've heard Chris Pratt is, the character managed to work. The key to constructing a central character in a survival setting, is to create someone you either want to be, or want to be with. Like James Bond. You care whether they live or die, despite their taste in drinks. Essentially, they have to not be Nicholas Cage :-P

2: The lead lady started low, in terms of likeability, but only so that she could grow infeasibly fast, as a character, as the film progressed... almost into Sigourney Weaver, in fact. But not quite. Character progression shows who's the real lead, receiving all the effort from the writers, and she certainly did that. But she didn't magically transform at any point either, which would have been as risible as the I-Rex learning a whole language spontaneously. She was more plausible, but clearly the secondary lead... after the I-Rex. Obviously.

3: The adolescent squabblers were resurrected... because kids in danger are far more emotionally appealling than adults in danger. I suppose them both being boys was an artefact of casting, but their scenes were in no way implausible, either.

4: The man from The Military was loathable, because he was supposed to be hated. He was the Dennis Nedry of this film. And he also wanted to use the raptors as instruments of war, as if sentient beings could be used like drones. [cough] dolphins [cough] bats [cough] dogs. This is not ridiculous - humans have done it before! It's quite plausible.

5: The owner of the project did die, but that was only because he was a bad pilot. Makes sense, really. Ever the optimist, he lived and died by his desire for happiness. A pseud would say he were an allegory for capitalism. Was he? I don't know - ask the writers.

6: There were some people in a control centre

7: The oh-so-English assistant lady died as well. Because innocent victims make heart string tuggers, and that's the point of entertainment genres like the one this film is in. In real life, innocent people do die.

8: 20000 people running around like lunatics, because there are dinosaurs about.

Queery themes were non-existent; but with so few characters, and even fewer sexualities written in, it wasn't implausible for the subject to not be featured. I mean, only three characters showed any heterosexual inklings! For all we know, all of the velociraptors might have been lesbians. So don't judge. Or they'll eat you. In a bad way :-P

Queeriness would have distracted from the survival theme, too. Minority interest things work best as subsidiary plots, unless the story is targetted at a smaller, minority audience. If you want to sell a blockbuster, you should appeal to as many people as possible. There's only room for two in an on-screen marriage, LOL. Otherwise the dinosaurs get jealous :-D

The romantic narrative that was present, however, was not implausible, as it had been backstoried. And there's a reason corporate 'suits' like sending each other on teambuilding exercises, in real life: going through crazy shit together does indeed catalyse emotional-bond-forming. Whether they stick together, when life's got boring, however, we might never know.

Probably the most cloying 'Bads' on the Sociology front, when i saw it, at the time, was the fact that Isla Nublar's, um... not English?!? It's south west of Costa Rica, and was populated entirely by South American people until InGen cleared them off, but the whole island seems to have gone very anglophone. Bloody tourists! You would have thought Masrani would have been more culturally inclusive, but no. Annoying, but not implausible, as Isla Nublar is a remote island accessible only by air or water.

So sociologically, the film works pretty well, too. As long as you account for how annoyingly trite real life is. Again, Entertainment doesn't have to comply with our optimist/pessimist fantasies. When i see some shitbag in a film, i don't think "i don't like them, make them go away", i think "yep - met people like that". Again, people like seeing psychopaths in TV&Film. It doesn't make them murderous, too. Sometimes, people like seeing things they hate.

There's a reason that this format gets used again and again and again... it works.

Like the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus construct gets used again and again in music. Why? Because it works. It's the specific details that make a song - not its generic structure.


I've heard people complain about the dinosaurs not having feathers. Not on scientific grounds, but because "They look more badass" with feathers, according to the SGUers. But i don't agree. Whether something looks good 'to you' is subjective, so it's really just more snobbery to say that the raptors should be feathered to make them 'look better'.

Personally, when i see feathers, i don't think "yipes, Scoob", i think "aww, look at the wittle fluffy-wuffy birdy-wirdies, aww", because that's what birds are like. I like birds. Birds are nice. Birds are cute. Reptiles are menacing and scaly. Their scales make them look armour-plated... because they kind-of are. That makes dinos look scarier, too.

I can completely understand why they decided to go with no-feathers dinosaurs: reptiles look scarier, and they don't look incongruous to the target market (everyone) which could dissuade some from seeing the film. Unfeathery dinosaurs are entertaining, but they're scientifically problematic.

The SGUers also complained about the characters being one-dimensional., it's not about the people. It's about the dinosaurs. This is essentially a survival movie - not a grungy arthouse drama.

I expect simplistic people, because they're not the main attractions!

Apart from the, um... plot 'inconsistencies', the film seems to work. But plot integrity's got to be key to the 'sci' element of sci-fi too, surely?

I shan't bore you with all of them, as i haven't even rememberd them all. I'm sure you can manage to find some for yourself.

Suffice to say, there were some rather boring tropes shoved into the film, but because they were all so minor and fleeting, i barely even noticed them in a first viewing. That's a good thing, because otherwise they would have distracted from the central theme.

Oh, and there were huge numbers of corny lines. But again, the high pace of the movie made them easily forgotten, and the experience more enjoyable than it would have been.

Away from the 'science v. shit' element of the film, there's the pure Jurassic Park geekyness of it.

Oh, i squirmed with nostalgia! So many back-references, so many props. Plus Mr DNA's return, and BD Wong's reprisal as the chief geneticist.

And the obscenely huggy, emotional moistness of taking the dinosaur 'baddies' from the first film, and employing them as the 'goodies' who rescue Crocodile Dundee et al from certain doom, in this one.

Never waste a T-Rex when you've got one :-D

My conclusion:

It's a good film. For what it is. But where the hell's the sequel going to go?

Jurassic World was intended as a blockbuster. It was intended as, designed as, and turned out as, a 2 hour 4 minutes dinosaur-athon.

It was not intended to be hugely intellectual. It was not intended to be hipster or arthouse. It was not intended to present dinosaur behaviour patterns like a parody wildlife documentary.

The simple truth is that, for a film to be a blockbuster, it has to be pretty bland. It has to be simple. It has to appeal to the lowest common denominator in the humans of the world. Jurassic Park did that. Jurassic World does that.

I've seen and heard pretentious, snobbish reviews of it, sneering at it for being 'dinosaur porn' (my words) and i've seen a nob-cheese at io9 condemning it for destroying the future of films. You have to LOL, LOL.

Read my words: you get paid money to opine on what other people make, to entertain other other people.

If you want to make some minority-interest super-'high' brow film about a world where racist asexuals run the world, subjugating the rest under a self-imposed dogma of self-loathing for how genetically modified they've made themselves, and milking selected males to provide seed through which the next generation shall grow, as a mirrored allegory for the world you think you live in... then you should expect a tiny audience.

Don't, whatever you do, expect it to be blockbuster, because nobody ain't got time for that. It's simple sociometry.

The more bland something is, the more people it appeals to. I remember being frustrated, in past times, wondering why my favoured musical acts didn't reach #1, or anywhere near. Hell, Red Light Fever was fantastic, and that scraped onto the charts, staying for one week, at #81!

The simple fact of life, is that what seems most amazing to you; what grabs you most strongly; what appeals most to your idiosyncrasies, is going to appeal to the fewest people overall.

Jurassic World 'going huge' at the Box Office is not a failure of the Box Office, to appreciate the things you really like - it's your failure to understand (and accept) that the 'best' stuff will not do well on scales of populism.

Jurassic World is, and will continue to be a popular movie. Which means you'll probably like it too. But it also means it probably won't make it onto either of our 'favourites' lists :-D

Jurassic World: good on roars, not so good on dinosaurs. There's a 90%+ chance you'll enjoy it.

In case you've developed a sudden urge to find out what Hot Leg sounds like, and whether our musical idiosyncrasies match up, here's a YT playlist of their songs,

'Hot Leg - Red Light Fever'

And here's where you can buy it from:

'Red Light Fever - Hot Leg'

Back in the dino world, here's Ri Aus' videos on the subject of dinosaurs, which they seem to have released at a very opportune time. Clever girls ;-D

'Dinosaurs on the Big Screen'

'How Colourful were Dinosaurs'

'How did Dinosaurs Behave'

'How did Dinosaurs Sound'


Asteroid Day  is on the 30th of June, and as Dave Eicher says in this video, it's very important, because planet Earth does not have total coverage, watching for potentially dangerous asteroids. The earlier they're spotted, the better.

The 30th of June is also the date on which one second will be added to our calendar, to account for the gradual slow-down in Earth's rotation, due to its surface water. In 1820, a solar day was 86400 seconds long, but now it's more like 86400.002, which means an occasional leap-second has to be added, to catch up with the physics of daytime.

In other news:

Mermaids off the Queensland coast? Hmm...

It seems Jesus is coming back in food again. But by chance (and the law of buses) pareidolic superstition is not in the news just once, this week. I think we can be pretty sure that a fictional character in Religious mythology didn't attempt to communicate with modern humanoids, by stamping a miniature of its face into a tortilla... but did some people once carve a face into a rock? It's difficult to find, would have been even more difficult to make, and doesn't look like the other pteroglyphs that are already known. I'm saying this is pareidolia too - the narrative of design is purely a self-indulgent superstitious backstory.

And on the subject of hallucinatory misperception, some conspiracy theorists have found Las Vegas on Mars. Well, they haven't, but they think a bright patch on the dwarf planet Ceres must be a city, because Las Vegas looks similar in a grayscale aerial shot. The word 'lunatic' comes to mind (meaning a moon-gazer) because various religious superstitions have bronzed people's misunderstandings of the moon, in arbitrary scripture, due to those people's inability to distinguish light sources from light reflectors. The NASA guys think the patches on Ceres are salt or ice or something else reflective - but the favoured solution of the superstitionists of agency (conspiracy theorists) is that they must be light sources - not light reflectors. Just like the religionists have done, with the Moon.

This is not a hallucination, however - it's something very strange and rare - a Crown Flash. From what i've read of it, it seems to be observable only under conditions where cumulus storms are strongly backlit. The collision of cold air and dusty warm air causes static electricity to build up, in the usual way, and possibly also producing lightning and thunder, but it also causes ice particles high in the cumulus clouds to be be thrown around. When ice crystals are thrown above the cloud, and into a position where they can refract light from the Sun, behind, down toward an observer on the ground, a flash of sunlight is seen from their direction. As the ice crystals are whipped around in the winds up there, it arcs and whips around itself, as seen in this video. To see some more, click this link, or follow the link in the article.

Ah, the cost-benefit analyses of life. Tourism can provide certain areas of the world with much-needed funding, to preserve local wildlife, for example. But tourism seems to have cost this snake its life. African rock pythons are usually fine, consuming porcupines, but according to Lake Eland Game Reserve's Jennifer Fuller, being pried-on by tourists made it stressed - a condition under which pythons are stimulated to regurgitate recent meals so it can escape. But porcupines, of course, with their quills, don't come out as easily as they go in.

This is not a python. And it's not the holy grail, neither. West Mercia Police have received a broken, wooden cup, known as the Nanteos Cup, and purported to be The Holy Grail - the cup Jesus Christ drank from at the Last Supper, and taken to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea after her death. It's obviously not a cup made by/for a fictional person, and dating will probably show it to be medieval (like all the other religious relics) but it is at least some interesting archaeology. Similarly, the Guttenberg Bible is a book of bullshit, but it's a book of old bullshit, and the oldest book of bullshit ever made in Europe. That makes it worth something :-D

This is not a jellyfish. It's a sheep. Well, it was a sheep, until it was killed and eaten. A sheep with a genome containing exo-jellyfish DNA, apparently to see if it would grow see-through skin, has been 'lost' in being sent to an abattoir. The National Institute for Agricultural Research has apparently confirmed this, and the case been taken up with a public health court. It is, of course, just a sheep, so there's no reason to think it would be dangerous. It's not like it contained exo-hemlock genes, or anything like that! What makes this story suspect, is: why would anyone sell the sheep in the first place? It almost seems like virulent anti-GM groups in France have manufactured this whole thing to scare people about a benign technology. Hmm...

Tumblr seems to think that Bashar of the planet Essassani is a real thing, channelled from the future by a man called Darryl Anka, so that they can lay valid copyright claims on GIF images posted by people on its site, in the past! Don't believe me? Here's what Tumblr says: “Each claim is reviewed by a trained member of our Trust and Safety team”. Tumblr's either ahead of the game with advanced AIs, are lying, or are automatically believing copyright claimants as if they're some kind of SJW feminism hosting site that automatically believes fake victims along with the real ones, no matter how much harm they do.... oh, um, right. Might have an ideologically convenient point, there. Or maybe Tumblr's just shit at dealing with DMCA claims. Nah - SJWs run Tumblr :-P

And back to dinosaurs. Not quite. Pappochelys was a genus of early lizard (very small: <20cm long) that appears to have been a key ancestor in the lineage stretching up to modern turtles. The plastron (chest plate) of turtles has long been a developmental mystery... as has the shell on its back... but Pappochelys seems to be a developmental stage, in-between Eunotosaurus, of 260 mya, which had no plastron, and Odontochelys of 220 mya which had a fully-formed plastron. Pappochelys lived 240 mya, and is thought to have been a metaphorical stepping stone in the evolutionary bid to develop defence against attacks from below.

Phew! A solar flare, and a Coronal Mass Ejection hit Earth on the 22nd of June, causing mid-latitude aurorae, and the NOAA to rate the resulting geomagnetic storm as G4, for 'severe'. The harm done could have knocked out artificial satellites and fused electrical networks. Judging by the lack of disaster story press releases, and my ability to write this to you, and for you to read it, we 'got lucky' this time. To see some photos of the aurorae caused, follow the link.

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

'Coded Mask - Sixty Symbols'

'Klein Bottles - Numberphile'

'Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and me ~ AA#8'

'How To Detect A Secret Nuclear Test'

'ScienceCasts: The Good, the Bad, and the Algae'

'The Curvature of Earth 4K 60FPS'

'How Sunglasses Work - Are They Damaging Your Eyes?'

'Not the Confederate Flag'

'Malaysia Street Food'

'Detoxic | The Checkout'

'The Condiment Job | The Checkout'

'Signs of the Time Series 3 Episode 12 | The Checkout'

'Négo (Adrien Ménielle)'

'Lights of an aurora from the International Space Station'

'NASA image: Flying over an aurora'

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

Word Of The Week: epicaricacy -- the English equivalent of 'schadenfreude'; from greek 'epi' (upon) 'chara' (joy) 'kakos' (pain), whereas 'schadenfreude' means 'harm joy'. Both therefore mean 'pleasure achieved through witnessing pain'.

Expression of The Week: 'Wish in one hand, shit in the other. See which one gets filled first' -- a statement used about appeals for the impossible/unlikely, meaning the equivalent of 'don't waste your time/effort'.

Quote Of The Week: “I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say "look how beautiful it is," and I'll agree. Then he says "I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing," and I think that he's kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is ... I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.” - Richard P. Feynman

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

'The Simpsons (554 episodes at the same time)'

This is wonderful. But who the hell thinks of making all of these videos, and actually does it? :-D

This guy:

'Omni Verse'

'This sign has been bugging me all day. I have no idea what it means'
Whitesnake performing a song about chivalry?!?

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 15-21/6/15

Hi water closets loos,

The 18th of June 2015 marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, which terminated the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleonic Empire.

In commemoration, here's Dan Snow's History Hit series, of the Battle Of Waterloo's most significant moments, published on the hour, almost exactly 200 years after they happened:

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 9.00 Napoleon's Army'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 9:00 The Allied Army'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 11:30 Hougoumont'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 13:00 D'Erlon Attacks'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 15.30 Ney Leads the Way'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 17:00 The Prussians in Plancenoit'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 19:30 La Garde Recule'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 20.30 Napoleon Defeated'

In other news:

KFC's in the news again, this week. And again, as the victim of a 'my chicken isn't quite right' hoax. This time around, it's the claim that they 'accidentally' deep fried a rat - a story which, according to Snopes, dates to at least as far back as 1976. They also think that the narrative of the story was invented more duplicitously even than deceptively slandering KFC. In the original story, it's woman who buys the KFC, thereby symbolising the harm done when women concede their family role of cooking meals! Rats, of course, are subject to disgust humour, due to emotional associations with them - their flesh is no less sanitary than chickens'. And KFC is the only selected as the target, because it appeals more strongly, and to more people's fear instincts, by mentioning a particular company that lots of people have been to, than to say a small local restaurant, or to not mention a specific one at all.

{Incidentally, the rat-in-batter story makes me think of the human-ear-on-a-mouse story. Be honest - you probably thought it was a human ear on a mouse, too. That's certainly the way the Media orgs reported it, back in the 90s, when it was topical. In reality, of course, xenotransplants (transplants between different species) invoke strong immune reactions that would kill the host. It would have been much easier to do it the way they really did it. That mouse did not have a human ear on its back - it had a human ear shaped structure on its back, made of non-human cartilage cells. It wasn't human - it was mouse, with a superficial, humany appearance. For the same reasons, that mousey ear could not have been transplanted to a human without being attacked by that person's immune system}

Ebay earned the fury of 'magic' wielding charlatans, back in 2012, when it took measures to oppose the use of its services to sell fictional products - like ghosts, ghost-cures, haunted objects, etc. This year, it's Etsy that has taken steps to prevent the sale of products that don't exist - spells, hexes, and other witchcrafty nonsenses. The good reason for companies like ebay and Etsy to do this, is to avoid fraud. Just because someone believes the marketing jargon, that certain crystals, or crosses, or whatever, are going to protect them from evil, doesn't change the fact that the supernatural is 'super-' (beyond) natural. It's not real. So you can still sell and buy crystals on ebay and Etsy, just not by any claims of magical properties. Similarly, it's perfectly fine to sell sugar; just not slightly-damp sugar that you're pretending is medicine.

Ah, you crazy Americans, and your Faith Healers - it's not real Religion, i tell you! <s> For starters, this guy's not American - he's British. And this is real religion - he claims that by 'channelling' Paul of Tarsus (a fictional character in Christian mythology) he can and has cured various people of various medical conditions, including joint pain, infertility and heart conditions. The boundary between religion and quackery is a blurry one, as i've said before. Religionists have sculpted the Jesus myth deliberately to pseudo-validate their own behaviour: "If claiming to cure lepors, the lame, and the dead is good enough for him, then it's good enough for us". And to this day, true to form, religion continues to produce all kinds of rank quackery: from feeding people miraculously unhygienic sewer water, in India; to ridding children of demons by beating them to death, in Haiti; to saving witchcraft-affected men by poisoning them to death, in Zambia.

By the way, if you were hoping to jump the border, into the land of the free... Mexico... then you can rest easy, because there are no demons there any more. Yaaaaaayyyyyy! Thanks to Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Guadalajara, and Spanish priest and exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea, who absolutely and thoroughly exorcised the entire country last month, Mexico is now completely free of demons, spirits, violence, abortion, and probably Jews, Gays, and Atheists, too, because Catholic Christian Religionists seem to not like them very much either. So even though Mexico has been a veritable paradise for a month already (no need to factcheck - faithists never lie) it does seem the amount of religion there has stayed the same. Maybe just carry on as you were then :-D

Apparently, some ignorant, scientifically illiterate woman has done an article in a popular News-site, that contains dangerously unscientific medical advice. Anyone getting a feeling of déjà vu? This story is not someone catching up on my observation of incompetent journalism in The Times, two months ago, though. That was a completely different ignoramus, who advised cancer patients that fasting was better than chemotherapy, on the basis of her personal imbecility. This ignoramus is a different one - she wrote for the Huff Po (famed for its quackery bent) about "the miracle that cured [her] son's autism" which she claimed to have found in her kitchen. Guess what: the terms 'organic' and 'gluten free' were both involved. Complete bullshit! Oh, and neither this piece, nor the one i reported on were written in Science / Medicine sections - The Times' was 'Opinion' (and as i pointed out then, not written even slightly like an opinion) and this one was featured in the 'Living' section. I suppose you have to laugh. Right?

Good news, everyone! David Tredinnick - the geocentrism-believing Minister for Holland & Barrett - has lost his bid to become chair of the Health Select Committee in the UK's Parliament. If you want to know quite how disastrous it would have been for the magic-water-believing Tredinnick to have become chair of the Health Select Committee, then just read Steve Novella's article on him, replete with non-mined quotes. He is a complete goofball! Tredinnick, i mean - not Novella. He's only slightly goofy :-P

The magic water industry itself has been under the spotlight, in the USA, recently, with both the FDA and FTC investigating it for viability on the medicine markets. Essentially, damp sugar products will have to be labelled with embarrassing 'this product doesn't work' caveats, or even disallowed from sale, if justice is done through these organisations. But what's most interesting about the FDA's recent public hearing, as part of their ongoing review, has been the magic water industry's monolithised response to investigation. This is their biggest big chance to validate their quackery, remember. So what they came up with was: propaganda from non-Swiss homeopaths, pretending to be the Swiss Government, while ignoring the UK's competent review that compared it to witchcraft; claiming that giving empty ingredientless pills is safe (like not having lifesaving surgery is safe because you don't get cut); denying the validity and importance of evidence, because it shows that water-sprinkled sugar pills are not a form of medicine, and insisting that mistaken anecdotes must be perceived as superior, because homeopathic dogma says so; pretending that real Science and real Medicine are just ideologies, according to invalid 'my murder doesn't count because they're a murderer too' illogic; pretending that homeopaths are capable of 'regulating' homeopathy the way they've completely failed to in the past (which is intuitive, as quackery is for profit, not for health - they have no motive to regulate themselves out of profit); and persisting with the delusion that homeopathic magic water definitely works, even though reality always insists that it doesn't. That last point is tantamount to saying "it works because it does because it does because it does". They were there to present the best evidence they could, that homeopathy were valid, and all they provided was evidence of their abject failure to meet with the challenge. What better evidence does a layperson need, that homeopaths are charlatans? Conspiracy theory thinking is the only resort for a 'true believer' in homeopathetic superstition!

Side dominance is a common characteristic of animal species, as they tend to have two sides, with paired limbs along their bodies, and paired sensory organs too. In humans, 90% of people are right-side hand dominant, and majorities are leg, eye, ear, and nose right-side dominant too. But in kangaroos, it's the lefties that dominate. Especially in Eastern Grey and Red kangaroos. Side-dominance is useful when it comes to developing skill, because learning the same skill with both sides (and hence both sides of the brain) takes much longer than just getting good at something with one side. These kangaroos are known for learning manual dexterity, and so show more inclination to side dominance.

Baboons. Do they play 'follow the leader' the way 'right wing' humans insist humans should do, or do they all go their own ways like 'left wing' humans insist humans should do? Well, actually, because they live in quite large groups, of up to 100, and because lots of brains put together magnify total thinking power, baboons actually employ a more democratic style of decision making than their hierarchical social structure would suggest. GPS tracking has revealed that baboons will attempt to lead in different directions, but it's the numbers that win, and ultimately decide where the group goes.

You're probably already aware of white-nose syndrome, which is caused by a fungal infection, and affects millions of bats across North America. But you're less likely to have heard of the fungus that is killing large numbers of snakes, in similar areas. Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola (the snake fungus) and Pseudogymnoascus destructans (the bat fungus) thrive at different temperatures and in different humidity ranges, but they both affect large numbers of species by being only broadly similar: they occur in soil, grow on a wide variety of substances, and possess many of the same enzymes. The bat fungus affects bat species while they hibernate - demanding the bat's energy stores, to be fought off, and effectively starving their host; while the snake fungus eats away at their keratin scales, with a mortality frequency thought to be 100%. The only way these fungusses survive, when they kill their vertebrate hosts so effectively, is by the fact that they evolved to survive in soil - the bats and snakes are probably unintentional victims.

Can you work out what this picture is, and where it came from? Can't manage both? Well, read the article, and you'll find out. The core of the answer involves ANNs - Artificial Neural Networks - that rote learn, in a way more similar to human brains, what thinsg look like, and can then be used to reproduce images of what their aggregated understandings of those objects says the answer should be. To see a big picture, on my tumblr, and to find the links to the article, follow this link:

Want to see a shockwave propagating through diamond? Then click this link. Researchers have used ultra-short pulses of X-rays to film shock waves in diamonds - a technique that enables researchers to follow the rapid, dynamic changes taking place. I don't care what future technology might be made possible by this - it's just fantastic on its own :-D

Never mind. The onset of the rainy season around Japan seems set to postpone Solar Impulse 2's voyage to Hawaii. The pilots are prepared to wait for up to 2 months, for a 'weather window', but if they don't get one then, then they might have to wait until next Spring.

SI2 hasn't left Japan yet, but another solar-powered craft has arrived... again... Philae is back up and running. As expected, the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has rotated and turned Philae's solar panels to the light of the distant Sun. It had already sent back multiple years' worth of data, but planning is now underway to make the most of what might happen next - before 67P/C-G heats up, or anything else goes wrong.

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

'How to catch a swarm of bees!'

'Can of Coke in Liquid Nitrogen - Periodic Table of Videos'

'Why the UK Election Results are the Worst in History'

'Deadly Truth of General AI - Computerphile'

'What Does Your Birthday Say About You? The Seasonal Birth Effect'
Causations don't necessarily have to take effect in the womb. Myopia (short-sightedness) is associated with an indoorsy lifestyle, so sportyness is observed to be inversely proportional to myopia. Kids born in September are bigger at school, and so superior on the sports field, so they play more and are less likely to be short-sighted. No need for genetic or intra-womb effects at all.

'Shelf Life Episode 8 - Voyage of the Giant Squid'

'Tropical Storm Bill from the International Space Station'

'NASA image: Wheat fires outside of Huaibei, China'

'STS-7 launches through the clouds'

'Cassini zooms past Dione'

'New Horizons'

'Parallel Consumerverse : If Takeaway Was Ikea | The Checkout'

'The Catch : Uniqlo Baby Leggings | The Checkout'

'As A Guilty Mum : Parties | The Checkout'

'In Retreatment | The Checkout'

'Signs Of The Time Series 3 Episode 11 | The Checkout'


'Only in New York (Music Video) {The Kloons}'

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

Word Of The Week: intensiny -- "it's when you're so intense that your knees start to hurt... it's crazier than intensity... in the first hour or two, my intensiny is super high, and then it turns down to intensity" ;-)

Scary Article Title Of The Week: 'BBC explores mind control over TV program choice'

Quote Of The Week: "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires" - att. John Steinbeck, maybe as a paraphrase

Tredinnick Quote Of The Week: "I am talking about a long-standing discipline-an art and a science-that has been with us since ancient Egyptian, Roman, Babylonian and Assyrian times. It is part of the Chinese, Muslim and Hindu cultures. Criticism is deeply offensive to those cultures, and I have a Muslim college in my constituency." - speaking on astrological superstition, and then apparently invoking the murderous tendencies of Muslims to 'encourage' the acceptance of pseudomedical fraud into healthcare.

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

'Cyriak | Heroes of Animation with Bing'

'Er...Sovngarde Awaits'
Best gamefail of 2012. Deserved :-D

As mentioned on last week's RHLSTP (RHLSTP) here's that Minecraft-based sit-com. It's actually rather good :-D

'Maximum Whimsy - Ep 1 - Pedestrianize'

'Maximum Whimsy - Ep 2 - Funny'

'Maximum Whimsy - Ep 3 - Identity'

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 8-14/6/15

Hi neutrally clairvoyant gamers,

The less-bizarre-than-it-first-seems news of the week, this week, is that an agency employed by a Dutch government department to provide employee insurance, has paid for a course in 'clairvoyance'.

'Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) pays for courses in clairvoyance'

This wasn't by government decree - the thought your mind might have jumped to - but it was using government money, as the department that they are contracted to is the 'Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment'. This means that what they have done, is to use State funding to push their unemployed clients into fraudulent careers - as 'spiritual phone consultants'.

The agency - UWV- doesn't see anything wrong with this, of course, because, well, they simply don't care. This is a situation paralleled in other private sector employment agencies, where they don't care how criminal their clients are, as long as taking money from them doesn't mar the agency's 'image'.

Workfare companies in the UK are perfectly happy to engage with cold-calling companies; and job websites will take money from ads for quacks. I have sent emails to such websites in the past, and they only return glib 'thank you for your feedback' responses. As long as there are no major repercussions, they won't stop - they have insufficient motive to arrest their own desire for 'meeting targets' and profiting from other people's misfortune - their lack of employment.

It might seem bizarre, at first, that a company would do this, but it's not actually that implausible.

YouTube (Google) seems set to shift all gaming to a separate site, where Gamers can Game their Games in a Gaming environment, where they need never see the light of day again.

'YouTube to launch app, site dedicated to gaming'

Hmm... I don't see how this is really going to help the world of Gaming as it currently exists, on YouTube - it can only create a compartment of exclusion.

The wonderful thing about YT, historically, has been that you see anything and everything of the world of people-at-home-making-videos. That's the best use of the world wide web - to see the world, unblinkered by prior enthusiasms and prejudices.

Way back when the millennium was young, YT used to be about content - if something contained important information, for example, it could actually make it onto the front page. Nowadays, it's cheap 'pop' (pseudo)science, music adverts, girls doing facepaint, and people playing computer games while they talk over them, that we get 'recommended' to us (or each other, if you're a 'content creator' too). Because those genres are easy to make, and subject to low expectations, they dominate the content, and so interesting stuff is more difficult to find.

Perhaps the only advantage to this segregation of Gaming, would be the net benefit to other genres. With YT's algorithms not always putting long and frequent Gaming videos to the top of the pile, other videos would have to get there, in their place.

In that case, YouTube, please segregate the 'beauty' genre too. Please. Pretty please? :-D

Two years late, the Linear Media have discovered that, of the thousand-or-so people to have discovered exoplanets, one of them is was quite young. They were 15, and are now 17, now that their sighting, while doing Work Experience at a University, has been properly verified by other, much older humans.

But then, people putting in lots of work to do the hard graft of evidence-collecting is boring, so of course they're going to go with the 'pretty young thing finds planet' narrative, aren't they. Because that's neither ageist nor derivative :-P

'Work-experience schoolboy discovers a new planet'

Remember Dreadnoughtus? [sighs with nostalgia for the pre-mammal days] It's the sauropod that was mentioned here, in September last year, for being the biggest accurately-estimated dinosaur ever.

As i said back then, Amphicoelias fragillimus holds the biggest estimates for size and weight - at 60 metres and 100 tonnes - but also for the biggest uncertainty in size and weight. Dreadnoughtus schrani was declared to be 26 metres long, and weigh 59 tonnes, with substantial certainty, but some paleontologists have recently revised those estimates.

'Scientists downsize the giant 'Dreadnoughtus' dinosaur'

It was still 26 metres long, they think, but it would have weighed just 40 tonnes - not 59. That's still more than either Diplodocus (15) or Brachiosaurus (34) though.

So, Net Neutrality is in, in the USA. Good for USAians then. But (most) Europeans get to gloat that their good-old EU sorted Net Neutrality more than a year ago :-P

'Q & A: The Effect of Net Neutrality'

A study by a Dutch researcher, into the floods around the Netherlands, between 1500 and 2000 CE, has found that a third of floods in that period were deliberately perpetrated by humans, as part of military activity.

'Floods as war weapons: Humans caused a third of floods in past 500 years in southwest Netherlands'

In those 500 years, 21 were caused by storm surges, and 11 by militants attempting to gain a tactical advantage over other militants - mostly the Dutch against the Spanish, in the Eighty Years War (mostly a rebellion against the Spanish Empire). This caused the low-lying land to be salinated by seawater, affecting agriculture, and also compromising sanitation, as is the case with floods around the world today.

But human activity also increased the harm of non-military floods. Storm surges were not protected against, by developing the dykes that hold back waters in the Netherlands to this day, and so the hazard of non-humanmade floods was made greater.

Saturn's outer ring, it seems, reaches much further out than was previously realised.

'Saturn's outer ring much bigger than thought'

The Phoebe Ring - so-called because the moon 'Phoebe' is believed to be the primary source of the ring's material - was first positively identified in 2009, by researchers using the Spitzer Space Telescope, which sees in Infra-Red.

Back then, this faint ring of dust was estimated to stretch to 200 times the radius of Saturn itself. Now, that estimate has been increased to 270 times Saturn's radius. That means the Phoebe Ring has an inside edge 6 million km from Saturn, and an outside edge 16 million km from it!

The dusty particles of the Phoebe Ring are only visible in IR, because they are almost all tiny, micron-sized particles, with a much smaller number in the tennis-ball to soccer-ball size range.

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

'The Science of Jet Lag... And How To Prevent It'

'Why 82,000 is an extraordinary number - Numberphile'

'How Low Can You Orbit?'

'Thunderf00t Vs 20 000 VIRGINS! (trailer)'

'Image: Sampit, Indonesia imaged by Sentinel-1A's radar'

'Image: Smoke from Canadian wildfires drifts down to US'

'Image: Tethys the target'

'Image: Soyuz TMA-15M docked at the International Space Station'
This might be one of the last images you see of this craft, before it's retired by crash-landing onto the Kazakh steppe

'Fly over Ceres in new video'

'Beautiful Mineral Stones'

'Insect Mosaic'
{This photo's from the 'Mosaics' gallery, by Christopher Marley}

'The Greatest Passenger in OMSI 2'
Before you ask: he's 16. That's probably why he doesn't recognise Mr Bean :-P

'Bec Hill translates "Non Je Ne Regrette Rien" (Edith Piaf)'

'Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast with Bob Mortimer'

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

Word Of The Week: vaccilation -- indecision; wavering; inability to choose an option or action

Etymology Of The Week: smitten -- as in 'smitten with love' (1660s); is the past tense of 'smite' meaning 'to strike/hit' (12th century) formerly 'to pollute/defile' (pre-12th c). This origin makes more sense when you consider that, historically, love has been seen as a bad thing - as a disease - because of the way it disturbs people's minds and makes them behave oddly; hence the expression 'lovesick', and also the expression 'falling in love'. Falling is generally employed as a metaphor for something bad e.g. falling to hell, rising to heaven, a fall from grace, a triumphal ascendance, a decline into poverty, a raise in your wages; etc.

Amusing-to-the-childish Fact Of The Week: There is a Saint Homobonus. In life, he was neither a gay pornstar, nor even a homo (probably), nor for that matter, a bonus. All he actually did was live off the wealth inherited from his father. He ate Jesus every day, and for that he was made the patron saint of business people, tailors, shoemakers, clothworkers, and Cremona, where he lived. His name comes from the latin 'homo bonus' meaning 'good man' [nudge nudge, wink wink] :-P

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

'HIGN4U - The Rt. Hon. Tub of Lard MP'

'Blockbusters - End Titles and Hand Jive - Central ITV - 1992'
"TV does not get any better than this" :-D

'Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast with Dara O Briain'

'The Darkness - Live @ Club Nokia, Los Angeles Full'

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 1-7/6/15

Hi bloggees,

First up (and last written, incidentally) The Darkness' new album is out!

'Last Of Our Kind' is their fourth album, and it's fantastic.

I was expecting something more like Red Light Fever, but it's got a wonderful sound, some lovely crunchy guitars ('Mighty Wings') and i can't get 'Hammer & Tongs' out of my head.

Earwormed! Yeaaaah :-D

'#079 - Sense about science'

James and Myles were joined by Chris Peters, from the charity 'Sense About Science', last week.

'Sense About Science' has been going for a few years, and is playing an important role in communicating Science, and the importance of Science, to as many people as possible.

In the show, they mention this quiz:

'Ask for Evidence - Spoof Diets'

The task is to read the descriptions of the thirteen fad-diet descriptions, and judge whether you think they are real, or spoofs.

It's Poe's Law all over again: the crazier something is, the more difficult it is to distinguish the real thing from a parody.

I know - you're getting flashbacks to four weeks ago - but go on, it's good fun :-D

'The stupidity that just won't die! Solar Cycleways and other snake oil!!'

So, Thunderf00t's caught up with the Solar Freakin' Cyclepaths thing, that i commented on three weeks ago.

It really is disappointing to find out what kinds of people are falling for this shit. Cara Santa Maria, really??

When it comes to projects like these, that you want to actually happen in real life, it's important to always remind yourself of the importance of a cost-benefit analysis.

With everything you do, there will be a benefit or benefits, and a cost or costs, and it's the balance between the two that determines whether you should proceed with your plan or without it. {You should also compare to other options}

- If the numbers say that the costs of the solar freakin' cycleways are going to be thousands of times more than the amount of electricity returned in a year, then you should drop the idea, and spend the money on something more productive.

- If the numbers say that sequestering CO2 and turning it into smartphone covers is an incredibly expensive way of achieving a negligible benefit, then you should drop the idea, and spend the money on something more productive.

- If someone says they can levitate a house for "thirteen dollars and ten cents" then you should fall silent and slowly back away...

This is why it's morally wrong for healthcare organisations to waste money on branded drugs, when an identical drug without the branding (a generic) can be bought 40 times over! Which is far more financially viable for a charity, like MSF, that strives to treat 40 times as many people - as many as possible.

And it's also why it's morally wrong to force the NHS to set aside half a billion pounds to be spent on really expensive anti-cancer drugs, when that money could be better spent on cheaper ones that spare more people the morbidity and premature mortality of living with cancer.

It's also where the moral obligation for Pollies to get their policy decisions right comes from.

If they waste public funds on vanity projects, for which no evidence suggests there will be tangible benefit, then they are committing crimes of abuse against their public, through neglect. They have to choose between policies.

By neglecting to make cost-benefit judgements, the claims of quacks and cultists can be granted false respect, too.

"What's the harm of homeopathy/prayer?" is something every Rationalist in the world has heard, and probably numerous times, as if there's genuinely no cost to dementedly pursuing a blatantly inferior option, with the result of a majorly degraded quality of life.

- When people are thinking about what their fantasy ally might want, they're not making realistic life decisions.

- When people are thinking about what herbal potion or empty sugar pill they want, they're not making realistic medical decisions.

Costs often manifest through neglect of superior options.

The French government, for example, has recently suggested that it's following the German government, in winding down its nuclear energy industry... in the interests of the environment!

If they do that, then they, like the Germans, will be forced to fall back on fossil fuels, with the result of missing their environmental CO2eq emissions targets.

The cost-benefit analysis is far more favourable to the elimination of fossil fuels, before anything's done with nuclear power, than it is to wind down nuclear power with fossil fuels very much still in play.

By getting 'locked on' to their pet peeves, these people pursue their personal vanity projects, with disregard for the best option to take, in this situation, right here, now.

It's not environmentally viable to get rid of nuclear power now; or to shift to 'organic' farming ever; or to force farmers to use/abuse all their land all the time; or to replace roads/paths with fragile, inefficient networks of solar panels.

Possibly the biggest danger with poorly constructed agendas, however, is the threat of emotional burnout.

When people have to be told "NO!" until they give in, they often become reticent with the entire subject, regardless of nuance.

If this happens with solar power, then they'll give up on all applications of solar panels, and not just those where they're misapplied.

This has already happened with nuclear power, which is generally a good idea, that has been poorly applied in very few (but very famous) examples. Decades of banality in France's nuclear power production is glazed over entirely. Nuclear power is the safest energy industry.

Religion is probably the most famous example of this: many people have simply given up on the subject, no matter how important it is.

They hate theists, and they hate antitheists. The only option they're willing to consider, is to stick their heads in the sand and hum to themselves.

Consequently, the crimes of religion go substantially less challenged than they should be.

In fact, it's thought by those with a keen interest in the sociological role of the Media, that the 'spinners' of modern Politics have played a huge role, through the Media industry, in manufacturing emotional burnout.

By manipulating people with emotional rollercoasters: "Bombs, puppies; death, holidays; superbugs, cancer breakthrough; migrants, sports results" channels can engender an emotional fatigue, which renders the viewer/listener/reader with a generalised inability to care about anything.

This lethargy profoundly inhibits their ability to investigate subjects of interest (to which they'd find only hopelessly contradictory answers, anyway) and so they resort to simply thinking/doing what they're told.

It's not like they can see any alternative. 'Life is all grim despair, except that guy there seems to know what he wants. So vote UKIP'. Please don't.

It's also how "no politics, please" has become such a popular mantra, on the web. People are just too fatigued to listen to it, or too disturbed to not talk about it. "no politics" offers people the promise of "FREEDOM!!!".

The cost-benefit analysis of running your own life, therefore, says that you should avoid the Gutter Press. Don't read it. Not at all.

OK, maybe occasionally. For a laugh.

But don't do it for long; or watch TV News; or read articles on MSN/Buzz/etc. They will wear you down, and leave you bitter and twisted.

Ironic, really, isn't it. That the best way to stay 'in touch' and well-functioning as a member of society, is to not hear about it too much.

It won't matter that much, anyway. Media organisations deliberately seek out the peculiar events, that don't represent reality.

The one thing they really try hard to not cover, is normalcy.

If a day goes by like normal, then they'll dig something old up, just to try to surprise you.

So if you're going to brave the bewildering environment of what passes as 'News', whether it's real or fake, the least you should do, is stay skeptical.



The 31st of May 2015 was the WHO's 'World No Tobacco Day'. Whether you're addicted to nicotine or not; surely you can accept that sucking smoke directly from the combusting poison-laden leaves of tobacco plants, is a really bad way to cessate cravings.

In other news:

In recent weeks, we were visited by the Flying Spaghetti Monster (all praise her noodly goodness) in a miraculous appearance over Queenstown, New Zealand. Not Queensland, Newtown - they're quite different! Clearly, Pastafarians are the chosen ones. Suffice to say: "RAmen!" ;-)

In completely different and separate and not-at-all-connected News, an international team of researchers has found that ~5% of people experience audio and visual hallucinations, at some point in their lives. This is according to a medical definition, so 'hearing' your name called in a silent room counts, but 'hearing' your name amidst the noise in a packed room doesn't. Neither does thinking Nicholas Cage to have personality. In contrast, ~20% of people experience clinical Anxiety at some time, ~20% experience clinical Depression at some time, and ~30% experience insomnia at some time. All three of these conditions have a tendency to go together. As do hallucinations. It's become an adage that if you don't have your dreams asleep, you'll have them while you're awake. So it's not so crazy to think that 1 in 20 people might have sporadic hallucinations. It does, however, provide a 'healthy' (large) source population from which complete nutterbutter bulldust stories can come. Ghost stories come from mundane experiences, that are edited post-hoc into ghastly characters; so it's very plausible that mundane hallucinations can provide nuclei, from which bizarre testimonials can grow. 5% of hundreds of millions of people, is millions of hallucinations, and plenty of room for cranky testimonials to sprout forth in.

One of the perpetrators of the 'bleach as a panacea' fraud (mentioned here, five weeks ago) has finally been prosecuted: "Louis Daniel Smith, 45, was convicted following a seven-day trial of conspiracy, smuggling, selling misbranded drugs and defrauding the United States". He was selling bleach. He still sells bleach. His suppliers are all very much in operation. And the most annoying thing to me, is the sheer duplicity of presenting a front to the regulators of 'we're only selling water purifiers' but then turning to potential victims, and saying 'mineral miracle solution' (bleach) can treat a wide variety of illnesses, as well as autism. Sacre bleu!

Embarrassing interpretation of a report, by the 'pop' Press, of the week: the Torygraph and Daily Fail, et al, tried to make the Nemertea video that went viral (across the original upload and mirrors) out to be "horrifying footage" causing "panic" amongst locals in Taiwan, and around the world!!! In reality, it's a fascinating form of ribbon worm, that should be welcomed not with hysterical fear, but with slack-jawed curiosity.

Maybe they won't feel as embarrassed however (in their insistence that they know how to do journalism good) as the UFOlogist who cited a satirical spoof website as an evidence source, and the ex-vice president of FIFA - Jack Warner - who cited an article from The Onion, in support of his claim that the USA is exhibiting a double-standard in investigating FIFA for corruption! "If FIFA is so bad, why is it the USA wants to keep the FIFA World Cup?" he bleated. Honestly; do i have to invoke Poe's Law for the third time in five weeks? :-D

As expected, the slow-down in global atmospheric warming (not surface warming, which continued apace) (and not a stop in warming - just a slower rise than before) has returned to the expected and feared higher rates of increase. This research has affirmed what climatologists had already found - that warming continues, and was expected to accelerate back to trend. The Southern Oscillation is suspected to be the factor that made the rate of warming appear to slow, as El Ninos produce spikes of hot temperature, and the following La Ninas are cooler periods. Climate Change obstructionists have exploited this cycle for half a century (as long as climate change has been known to be a fact) to present incomplete graphs, leading from one El Nino, and stopping just before the next one, producing the illusion of decreasing or not-rising temperatures. Consequently, obstructionists have claimed every decade to be the one in which global warming stopped. In the 90s, warming stopped in the 80s; in the 00s, warming stopped in the 90s; and now we're in the 10s, they claim the warming stopped in the 00s. Very obvious, when you see the trend, but apparently it works. National governments around the world still think money spent on mitigating climate change to be wasted. Only international organisations seem to have made any decent headway - the EU, ICF, UN, etc.

Say what you like about KFC. Go ahead. But there's a not-low chance that what you say is going to be complete chicken nuggets. A huge pile of steaming salsa sauce. In fact, internet-based marketing companies have been commissioned by KFC's competitors to spread rumours such as 'KFC modified its chickens to have six legs' in order to undermine its market share. Now, whether you think KFC's market share is too big or not, that's a dastardly way to increase your own! Many people have been deceived, if not necessarily into believing the lies, then into believing the rumours to have come from individuals - not from unscrupulous marketing companies! KFC has been fighting back, though, by filing lawsuits against three China-based companies, in recent weeks. I wonder how they'll get on.

Meanwhile, the Google Fails roll on. Searching for "top 10 criminals" in Google Images returns images of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and previously the USA's President Barack Obama, too. Last week, their Creationism Fail drew a correction. But this week, i noticed that their Phrenology Fail remains. Click here for the screencaps.

Twitter has received flak for irrationally closing down its arm of the website Pollitwoops, which archives deleted tweets by Pollies. Most of them, of course, are corrections of mistakes, but occasionally they are something more interesting. Twitter's misreasoning was that it somehow 'breached people's privacy' to have people see the tweets they made public, and then attempted to have erased from history!? I have revealed on this blog, before, that i tend heavily toward leaving my mistakes in, for multiple reasons: honesty, transparency, and to make it clear that i'm a real thing that makes mistakes. I want my readers (you) to know that you don't have to be immaculate, to be worthy of a blog - it's the content that matters, and the direction you take. Up? Down? Accept mistakes, and strive to improve - don't hide them, and drag yourself down.

Solar Impulse 2 got into a bit of trouble, in its longest leg, between Nanjing and Hawaii, last week, with strong gusts of wind pushing it off course and damaging its ailerons. So the aeroplane has had to stop over in Japan for some repairs, but their journey's expected to continue soon.

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

'The Beagles - Desperados and Bat Guano (Radio Active)' (my upload)

'Upside Down Mountains in Real Life'

'Is The Earth Round? - A Week in Science'

'Homeopathic Ebola'

'Good Thinking Investigates: Homeopathic Pharmacies'

'The Mass Murder Show'

'How Safe are Tanning beds?'

'Door Knockers : Arbonne | The Checkout'

'Checkout Chumps : Not Appy Club | The Checkout'

'Signs Of The Time Series 3 Episode 9 | The Checkout'

'The Checkout - Season 3 Episode 8'

'What Would Scooby Do?'

'Sisters Episode 7: Emma Stone {The Kloons}'

'Grandpa Walking His Tortoise'

'Image: The effect of the winds of Mars'

'New species of horned dinosaur with 'bizarre' features revealed'
{Here's a video of a 3D scan of Regaliceratops peterhewsi's skull: }

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

Word Of The Week: verisimilitude -- having an appearance of truth, whether actually possessing it or not; example usage: "the Chancellor's economic report had verisimilitude, but on investigation, was found to be entirely fictitious"

Quote Of The Week: "Funny is funny and there are brilliant people in every generation. What has changed is that young stand-ups, the men and the women, talk about themselves, whereas old-timers like me tend to talk about other people. I like being with the young ones, 'cos they jolt you and spark you up. I bite my lip sometimes when somebody young says ‘we had this idea...’ and I think ‘oh yeah, we did that in 1958’. But they’ve got a new twist on it. They didn’t know we did it in 1958." - Barry Cryer

Fact Of The Week: There is a hybrid sport, called Chess Boxing / Chessboxing, which was invented by Dutchman Iepe Rubingh in 2003. It's played in nine rounds, alternating between chess (to start) and boxing, with three minutes per round, and the game can be won by either chess or boxing rules

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

Here's a little extra, on top of last week's Nerd³ stuff...

'Nerd³ FW - LEGO Worlds'

'Assassin's Creed 3 - 30 Glitches in 15 Minutes'
This compilation isn't even concise!

'Top 10 Video Game Glitches'

'Another Top 10 Video Game Glitches'