Sunday, 23 February 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 17-23/2/14

Hi Vikings,

'Ragnarok approaches!'

Well, actually, Ragnarok has gone... but what's Ragnarok? It's the end of the world!

Yup, another asinine armageddonist fiction has been and gone, and we're (mostly) still here.

At least, i'm mostly still here. I don't know about you :-P

I went to see The Monuments Men, last week. Mark Kermode thought it couldn't decide whether it was a comedy or a tragedy. I thought it worked just fine, as it was.

A question that caught my mind was: "who was that, singing 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'?"

I thought her voice sounded like Katie Melua's - not the same, but very similar - it turns out it was recorded by the 16-year-old daughter of Warner Brothers executive David Sagal - Nora Sagal.

So well done her. Good film, btw - not a classic, but a good film.

A film that was a classic: 'The Lego Movie'

I agree with Mark Kermode, that the 3D works very well in Lego bricks. Sure, it's marketed toward kids, and the cinema was mostly populated by parents and kids, when i saw it, but it's a great film.

Everything is awesome; everything is cool when you're part of a team; everything is awesome; when we're living our dream" - Tegan & Sara sang the oh-so-catchy theme-tune.

Something else to watch: The Checkout's back!

'You'll feel better on The Checkout | ABC1'
"Results show that The Checkout reduces stress while shopping, increases knowledge of consumer affairs and boosts wellness."

I can attest to that. Go get a dose of The Checkout :-D

Here's a campaign that i don't mind endorsing:


DonateLife is a campaign aimed simply at encouraging people to tell their friends and family what they want to be done with their body, when it's no longer theirs.

Personally, i do not like the idea of my body being wasted, when i've died and no longer exist, and so can't make use of it!

So... who wants to bagsy my wings? :-P

Weird non-newsy-thing-that-didn't-really-happen-recently-but-some-journalists-just-noticed-and-are-claiming-it-as-sensational-freak-based-news of the week:

Aquagenic urticaria - allergy to water. Does it really exist?

Well, pedantically-speaking, no, because aquagenic urticaria does not involve an immune reaction, and is therefore not an allergy. If her immune system really did react to water, then there is no way she should still be alive - 70% of her, just as everyone else's bodies, is made of water!
{Many non-allergies - usually 'intolerances' - are called 'allergies' just because people don't know any better}

Aquagenic urticaria is actually a dermatitic condition that mostly affects the decolletage, shoulders, neck and throat, causing hives-like symptoms (hence its urticarian classification) when water touches them.

The most recent paper i could find suggests that the condition is not actually caused by the water itself (as should be intuitive) but by its salt content. The researchers exposed their small selection of sufferers to tap water, weak saline and hypertonic saline - basically, varying saltinesses of water, with tap water the least salty and hypertonic saline being the most salty. I'm slightly annoyed that they didn't test the dose response further, by trying distilled water (completely saltless).

The researchers found a dose response to the salt content, though, suggesting that it's the salt that's irritating the skin, and causing the urticarian condition - so it's not the water, it's the salt dissolved into it.

Of course, it would be unscientific to not consider other possibilities, such as: the condition is a side-effect of moisturising cream that they use; or even that the entire condition is fabricated through attention-seeking. You might call me callous to consider that, but it has happened before!

The thing about rare conditions (which this one is) is that learning about it becomes very difficult. So if you have something odd, it might be nothing, or it might be a less-severe case of something fascinating. Dare you bother your physician with the possibility that it's the former? :-P

'Ironic or Unlucky?'

Bobby Llew ponders whether it's ironic or unlucky, that in flooded areas, water supplies seem to drop. This is the sketch mentioned therein:

'Allannis Morrisette sketch. Ed Byrne'

Other news from this week:

An Anatolian/Syrian/Mongol handbag has been found, dating to the 1300s. Well, it isn't really newly-found, but it is newly-recognised as a handbag - there is even a drawing of its own use, engraved into its external decoration. It is believed to have been made in Mosul (presently in northern Iraq) and, having been so during a time of high Islamic influence, is a rarity in indicating that a historical woman actually existed in this culture.

Cambridgeshire Fire Service has declared that it will only attend to people trapped in lifts, for emergency situations, or when they've been trapped for longer than 3 hours. That'd make a terrible mini-series sequel to 24! They say the reason is that company owners should be responsible for recovery procedures, and with fabricated-austerity budgets they can't afford to attend non-emergencies.

A pizza has been developed, that can last for three years, before 'going off', without refrigeration. Why make such a thing? For military personnel, going places where they have few/no other options. It doesn't quickly get soggy or stale, the way pizza usually would, and so it's less susceptible to mould. It's next test is to fit in with people's senses of taste - if it can't be palated, it can't be used. Part of the reason for developing it, was that it would broaden their menu.

Delusional conspiracy 'theorists' (as if there's any other kind!) have vandalised archeological sites at the Giza Pyramids. The two acknowledged and even expressed pride at their desecratory acts, which were attempts to 'prove' their 'alternative history'. It is common, amongst conspiracy 'theorists' to believe that anything that's un-understandable by them must necessarily been done/made by... aliens! Last week's Skeptoid podcast was on this very subject. Implicit to the nature of a 'conspiracy theory' superstition is the distrust of perceived-authorities and wanton disregard for rules and regulations (known in 'politics' as libertarianism). Consequently, the flagrant vandalism is pseudo-justified, in their minds - a kind of 'final solution' to their dogma - sure, it means the destruction of irreplaceable historical items, but they think that's justified by their vendetta against reality - their insistence that black = white, and true = false. Barmy. Absolutely barmy!

Famously Islamophilic, superstition-drenched, soggy-minded, delusional halfwit Prince Charles of the UK of GB, has been on a trip to Saudi Arabia, playing his part in the UK's bid to sell more weapons to them. While the populist media concentrates on how silly Chazzie looks in his robes, wielding a curvy, golden sword, humanitarian groups have pleaded with him to campaign to make the world a better place, instead. Fat chance! "Prince Charles has made nine previous official visits to the country. In the most recent Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index it was ranked 163 out of 167 countries and was given zero points for “electoral process and pluralism”. The only countries ranked lower were Syria, Chad, Guinea Bissau and North Korea. Over the past five years the UK has licensed over £5.6 billion worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia."

Are you a fan of 3D printing? Then you're going to love this: the Joris Laarman Lab, in Amsterdam, has pioneered 3D printing... with metal! "As reported in Dezeen, the method combines a robotic arm typically used in car manufacturing with a welding machine to melt and deposit metal, to create lines that can be printed horizontally, vertically, or in curves, without the need for support structures. Adding small amounts of molten metal at a time, lines are printed in mid-air. The team vision is an affordable, multiaxis MX3D tool for workshops around the world." Follow the link to see a video of it, in use :o)

Hysterical Pseudoscience Of The Week: The anti-azodicarbonamide campaign. As with anything, dose is the important factor, and at the amounts it's found in bread... it's utterly irrelevant. unfortunately, the propaganda has succeeded in getting the manufacturer to withdraw the product! If you think that means it must have been nasty, then ask yourself whether you're the kind of person who'd conclude that the Jews, Queers, and Atheists must have been bad for society, otherwise the goverment wouldn't have taken them 'off the shelves' and into death camps. You're unlikely to answer correctly, however. Withdrawing genuinely dangerous products is a good thing - but if non-expert bloggers can dictate that a product must be condemned, on the basis of superstitious hysteria, then we are condemning ourselves to that same hopeless hysteria.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California have developed the highest-watt LASER ever, with petawatt power - that's 1,000,000,000,000,000 watts of total power! LASER's however, are not the best tools for conveying energy - most high-power LASERs can only manage 20,000 watts. This petawatt LASER can only manage to fire for 30 femtoseconds at a time - that's 0.00000000000003 seconds! Chemical reactions, and quantum effects, can happen over these short timescales, however, which is how this LASER's going to come in handy, for research.

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

'inFact: The Cult of Nikola Tesla'
Not long enough. There must be an episode about how, in fact, inFact issues are not long enough. See to it, Brian 'Brian Dunning of' Dunning! ;-)

'The world's greatest autograph book'
Wow - just look at the history, staring back at you from that vellum!

'Dancing skeleton pinpoints injury hotspots'
Want to see a woman's flesh stripped from her bones, right before your eyes? Then this is the video for you! They're a sadistic lot at New Scientist, i tell you :-P

'Kepler's New Universe'

'Thai Candy Taste Test'
Fascinating foods. That mochi looks worth a try. Not so sure about the flavoured testicle, though :-P

'The Wilhelm Device'
LOL - props people love reusing stuff. It's much easier to reuse something than to make a whole new thing. I suppose it's the same as with walk-on actors - they play such small parts that they can reappear in all kinds of things, and you'll barely notice :-D

'Bohemian Polypharmacy'
As is always the case with his songs, this one deals with lofty epidemiology - overdose by starting drugs at too-high doses. Capitalism has caused there too be a flood of products marketed, that work no better (or maybe even worse) than their competitors, but are presented in doses that overstate their main effects, or the side-effects of others. This is why more products are being hauled off markets, and also why longer 'trial and error' periods are needed to find an effective and safe option. For more info, read Ben Goldacre's book 'Bad Pharma' (with newly-added addendal chapter!).

'Porn Magazine Summons Killer Demons: Real Christian Movie!' - Dusty Smith
"Titties!!!" :-O

'Sochi 2014: Curling commentary by Sir David Attenborough'

'The Evolution Of Walking And Breathing' - A Week in Science

'Falling to Earth'

'Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 41, Ken Ham, Bill Nye debate)'
WDPLAC's still rolling on, after all these years. It's the series that introduced me to Thunderf00t, YouTube, and Rationalism - the extraction of lulz while scientifically interrogating religious lunacy. Still a wonderful series :o)

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

Word Of The Week: harridan -- a strict, bossy, or belligerent old woman

Quote Of The Week: "Despite all the brickbats, Putin hopes [the Games] will cause a shift in the way Russia's perceived by the rest of the world. And he's right - they have, already. It used to be viewed as a corrupt, Mafia-dominated State; now, it's seen as a homophobic ski-resort" - Charlie Brooker (Weekly Wipe S2E5)

Epidemic Of The Week: Neknomination - the drinking game where a player consumes a pint of alcoholic beverage, video-records it, uploads it to somewhere, and then nominates at least two people to do the same, within 24 hours of nomination. Obviously, not all people are going to be willing to comply, or even be considered for such a nomination, so the 'craze' is expected to die out in a couple of weeks. There have been no deaths verified to be caused by it, so far, despite fear-mongering by various semi-journalistic organisations.

Etymology Of The Week: sonder -- as a noun, entirely invented by the author of the blog 'The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows' in late 2012. It means 'the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own — populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness — an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk'; 'sonder' also exists as a verb, in french, meaning 'to probe, peruse, or survey'

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

A fascinating series of videos, about the histories of various diseases, by 'JimtheEvo'. These are, as usual, a selection of my favourites:

'HIV's long history. A History of Infection #3'

AIDS originated in one man, who was Gay, and visited Africa? No. An earlier case is know in a non-Gay man who picked up other STDs and gave them to his wife and daughters, following years sailing around Africa. Also, diseases don't originate in individuals - they need groups to incubate effectively.

'The Curious case of Dr. Pettenkofer. A History of Infection #4'
Curious cholera. Fascinating.

'The Plague Part 1! A History of Infection #7'

'The Plague Part 2! A History of Infection #7'

'Madness, Milwaukee and Microbiology a tale of Rabies. A History of Infection #9'

'Of cows, independence and Smallpox A History of Infection #12'

'Typhoid, Politicians in sewage and an Irish Cook. History of infection #16'

'The talking kitchen that teaches you French'

'Sierra circular de hormigas' (A Circular Saw Of Ants)
The sad thing about this, is that they will continue to go around in circles, until they starve. The way these species track around, to forage for food, and then get home, is that leading ants lay a scent trail. All following ants then follow that trail. If a circular trail develops, in real life, then thousands of ants can starve to death, walking an infinite path that never leads home!

'House with a pool'

'I’ve Seen Millions Of Images Online... But NEVER Any Like These. They’ll Blow Your Mind'
A cheap way to make 3D movies: put two big white bars across the screen.

'Bouche à bouche...'
A lovely chance shot :-)

'Penetrating Wagner's Ring: An Anthology'
Read the reviews :-D

'Bad Engagement Photos - Russian wedding photography'
It looks like he's 'pleasing' her, LOL. Click on the link to see more funny Russian wedding photos :-D

'These stools are not handmade'
Awesome work.

'I Hate Hippocrates'


'How To Pass Time On The Train'

'What Happens When You Crack An Egg Underwater? | Video'

'Blue Jean Paintings'

'Bubble Soccer'
Well, this looks an interesting game! I wonder whether it's more or less dangerous than non-bubble soccer!? Epidemiologists, advance! :-D

'Frutas y vegetales bajo el escáner de resonancia magnética'

Fruits' and vegetables' cross-sections, as seen in an MRI scanner. Absolutely beautiful. Of course, medical physicists have to get good enough to be able to cognise the original shape of what they see, when looking at scans like this!
{In order: artichoke - pineapple - celery - peapods - bananas - eggplant - bamboo shoot - broccoli - courgette - squash - pumpkin - persimmon - onion - green beans - cabbage - peach - durian - blackberries - strawberries - pomegranate - mushrooms - kiwi - lettuce - sweetcorn/maize - pepper - orange - cucumber - pitaya - lotus root - watermelon - tomato - grapes}

1 comment:

  1. Giza Pyramids article Wayback Machine link: