Sunday, 9 February 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 3-9/2/14

Hi Olympians,

And especially to those of you who are, have been, or are yet to become Olympic athletes.

And especia-specially to those of you who are, have been, or are yet to become Queer Olympic athletes.

The Sochi Winter Olympics are here, and Google has made clear what they think of the hosts' attitude to those people, with a rainbow Google Doodle... which lasted just one day :-/

And oh yes, it was there on the Russian version of Google, too. I checked :-D

Unfortunately, i've heard from 'Human Rights First' that four LGBT activists have been arrested, in St. Petersburg, for displaying a banner of the Olympic Charter's Principle 6 - the one that simply says sport is a right for all.
That's not a good start, for the Russian hosts!

In the opening ceremony, IOC President Thomas Bach exhorted tolerance, again and again and again, but never mentioned what to be tolerant of. He never once mentioned sexuality, or love. Was this speech intended as a gesture of sincere goodwill, or merely to placate the more moral amongst us? And would it be apposite to describe their speech with this week's 'Word Of The Week'? I hope not.

President Putin has, in the run-up, been executing some classically suspicious behaviour, with some classically suspicious one-liners, as ribbed on The One Show:

'President Putin Is Village People (The Now Show, 24th January 2014)'

So good luck to all of the Queers on 'Gay Mountain'. And the rest of the world, as well, of course. Especially if they're going to be showing this on a loop! What do you think of it? It's too extroverted for me, LOL

'McDonald's worker's Happy Meals had a bit extra: heroin, authorities say'
"A McDonald's employee in Pittsburgh was arrested Wednesday after undercover police officers said they discovered her selling heroin in Happy Meal boxes, according to a criminal complaint."

Interestingly, Stephens Dubner and Levitt wrote, in Freakonomics, about the structural similarities between the McDonald's business, and typical drugs businesses across America. I wasn't previously aware of it, but after attempting to Google a reference for their writings, i found Steven Levitt's TED video, on the same subject:

'Steven Levitt: The freakonomics of crack dealing'

It's quite poetic, really - that these two forms of business would come together, not just with utilisation of the same business model, but also with utilisation of the same premises... and cardboard boxes :-D

As Steven describes in his TED talk, the serfs of drug gangs typically also have a job working in somewhere, if not actually McD's, then very much like it.

This is an old video, but newly uploaded - James 'the Amaz!ng' Randi (that's a gerund, by the way) demonstrating how 'psychic surgeons' turn people's stomachs over, while extorting money out of them.

'James Randi Psychic Surgery'

It's gory, and a laugh for us, but frankly, it's no different to the make-believe that everyone in the I-SCAM industry perpetrates on gullible people.

The chiropractors (death by twisted arm), the acupuncturists (death by a thousand cuts), the ayurvedicists (death by lead poisoning) and the homeopaths (death by sheer preposterousness) all utilise the idea of 'no pain, no gain' to con people out of their money.

Ultimately, it's all proverbial smoke and mirrors - an elaborate bluff, developed only to persaude you to part with your money, in the empty hope that this particular grinning dickhead will help you in some way!

So stay skeptical, people. Stay skeptical :-D

'The Electric Highway | London to Edinburgh | Fully Charged'
"Only 3 years ago it took the BBC's Brian Milligan 4 days to drive an electric car from London to Edinburgh. This year we did it in 13 hours."

That driving attempt was made before any of this serious weather hit Britain's southern and western coastline, of course. MagMon supplies some handy tips for anyone who might find themselves faced with a flooded road:

'Who, What, Why: How do you drive in floods?'

'The Dumbest thing ever said about Nuclear Power!'

An excellent video, to add to Thunderf00t's recent series of videos on nuclear power, and the hysterical beliefs of anti-nuclear campaigners. That's not people who campaign against the use of nuclear weapons (amongst whom i could be counted) but people who campaign against the use of any 'hot' isotopes, in any situation!

It seems so weird, to me, that people fear nuclear radiation so much, as a cause of cancer for example, to an extent that their fear eclipses chemical causes of cancer, which are far more potent. The dangers of nuclear radiation are vastly overestimated, distracting from bigger threats to our health.

'The Radioactive Bomber (that irradiated girls)'

'Fukushima "Death Cloud" Kills hundreds on US Warship'

'Fukushima 'Death Cloud' and Flying: The REAL danger'

'Panic as Fukushima radiation 'found' on Californian beach!'

'Millions Die from Fukushima Fallout!'


'Faces we don't forget: Psychologists explain how attractiveness prevents the recognition of faces'

Can this be true? Are we less able to remember the faces of people we find more attractive? I don't think so, and i'll tell you why...

When it comes to beauty studies, we must remember that beauty itself is largely subjective. Hence the quote:

"It is said that gentlemen prefer blondes. I hope then that lesbians prefer brunettes, otherwise we might have to organise some kind of rota system." - Johnny Pring

And yet, in the artificial circumstances of a study, the participants know they are being tested. They are likely to bend their perceptions of beauty (completely unconsciously, of course) to a popularised notion of beauty, because people like pleasing people, and participants in studies want to please the researchers.

They even use the example of Angelina Jolie as "the epitome of female attractiveness". She doesn't hit my buttons all that hard, though, i feel compelled to point out!

It is a known psychological/sociological phenomenon, that when groups of people are put in a situation where they must reach a decision of choice, they tend to converge upon the blandest option. Consequently, none of them are all that happy with the result, but importantly, no-one is majorly cross about it.

This is why restaurants tend to have generic menus, and will title themselves as a 'fish restaurant' for example, so that people know in advance what the options will be - any way, steaks and chips always seem to be on the menu!

So i suspect that what we see in studies, such as this one, is the participants biasing their perceptions of beauty towards the faces that they think they could reach agreement with the other participants, or the researcher, over. In other words, Angelina Jolie has a bland, dull, boring face :-P

When eyes meet, across a crowded room (or however it might happen, in reality) it is not blandness that really enthuses us - it is idiosyncrasies that do that. And when we really find them attractive, we can't get them out of our head, and so creep ourselves out with the vast amounts we can remember about them. Or am i alone... anyone? ... :-D

I think it's telling that this study finds 'more attractive' faces more difficult to remember. It certainly clashes with my experience! The data sounds valid, but i think they're misinterpreting it.

'Wibbly Wobbly Planet, Gaia's focusing, Chandra visits an old friend. Space Fan News #126'

Scott Lewis tells us about an exoplanet that's orbiting not one, but two stars. That's not so odd, but take a look at its orbital path! Funky as what!?! :-D

BTW, that video's the first to be added to my new YT playlist 'Science 7' ...and there's room for 200 in each. There's a heck of a lot of nice, sciencey stuff out there, if you haven't seen much of it, and want to see more!

If only i'd seen this for last week's article, in which the exploding dairy farm story appeared. This is what it looks like, when an hour's worth of cow fart is set alight, as demonstrated for an Ri lecture, in 2009:

'How Much Methane Does A Cow Produce In An Hour?'

Quite a lot, by the looks of things :-D

And let's finish with something hugely weird:

'Enormous jellyfish new to science'

It's not a jellyfish - it's just an inanimate amorphous blob... oh wait, that's what a jellyfish is!

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

'chimpnology' - cyriak
If you know cyriak, you know what's coming. Something hugely weird :-D

'Tree shrew dines and defecates in toilet plant'

I once met a dyslexic girl, who preserved the shape of their shoes by stuffing tree shrews into them. She got lynched by PETA :-P

'NEW - 10 Amazing Bets That You Never Lose (Episode 10)'

'"Restaurant Decisions: The Musical" Tales Of Mere Existence'

'Gunshot produces world's longest echo'
Some things bemuse me. One of these, is the fact that this video, of the world's longest echo, gives us 35 seconds of a 75-second long recording. Would it have breached copyright, to give New Scientist the other 40 seconds!? Gah...

'Skeptoid #400: It's Just Science'
It's not as good as the 'I'm A Climate Scientist' rap, featured in 'non-contemporary stuff' a few weeks ago though:

'FLOBER - Le Bureau des Rêves'

A dark one, this week, from LeGoldenMoustache, and written by FloBer. But i have two questions:
1) What's wrong with Children of Bodom?
2) What the hell actually happens in his dream??? Tell me!!!!!!!!!

'Amazing piece of metal (speculum)'

'Oranges are Flammable'

Slow-mo footage, showing the ejection and combustion of limonene - the chemical in oranges that burns.

'Robotic arm sculpts Charles Darwin's bust'

'Bionic hand gives lifelike sense of touch'
Lifelike in what sense? Lifelike in the sense that they can feel, and so can living people - yes; but not as well as most. Anyway - what an incredible advance!

'On the importance of balance'

'The Sound of Atoms Bonding'

'Incredible Moiré Patterns!'Who wants to see an old man fumbling his way to awesomeness? I do :-D

'The Vein Viewer // Life Fantastic 2013 CHRISTMAS LECTURES'

There's more from the Ri, down the page, in 'non-contemporary stuff'

'Science Bulletins: Biodiversity Unveiled—New Animal Discoveries of 2013'

That realisation that haunts me every time: "because of human disturbance to their ecosystems, many will become extinct before they are found." [shivers]

'Pizza Wedding Portraits'

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

Word Of The Week: perfunctory -- describing an action carried out with diffidence and minimal effort

Etymology Of The Week: potassium -- from 'potash', literally ash made in pots. wet logs would be rendered down in huge pots, to make ash, which is a good source of what we now know to be the element potassium

Quote Of The Week: "Channeling is like bad ventriloquism - they talk funny, but their lips move" - Jamy Ian Swiss

Unfamiliar-to-Northerners Beverage Of The Week: Camel Milk Coffee

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

'Tchaikovsky, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies, en vasos con agua'

There's nothing like the music of a Gay man to set off an Olympics in a country where even mentioning homosexuality is now unlawful. But i notice this composition did get played at the Sochi opening ceremony! #darklyironichumour

'Michael Mapes’ Amazing Collage Portraits'

Did you know there's such a game as Beach Tennis? Oh yes:

'Beach Tennis Basics by the ITF'

Last week, i posted a link to a 'magic eye' music video. That had moving images, but no colour. This, on the other hand, has (some) moving images, and colour, and is from years ago. How's that work, then?

'Magic Eye Video'

This week, due to the aforementioned music video, the BBC's Magazine Monitor found themself getting nostalgic for paper. Nostalgia? On the BBC? I don't believe it :-D

ommadawnfan - the uploader of the 'magic eye' video - uploaded some of their old Beatles 45s, played at 33 1/3 speed. Here are those that i think work best... by which i mean "sound funniest":

'The Beatles 45s at 33 1/3 RPM Series - Nowhere Man'

'The Beatles 45s at 33 1/3 RPM Series - I'm Down'

'The Beatles 45s at 33 1/3 RPM Series - Strawberry Fields Forever'
This one sounds like they've been munching on something... but it ain't strawberries!

'The Beatles 45s at 33 1/3 Series - I Saw Her Standing There'

Royal Institution videos:

'Tales from the Prep Room: Argon Ice'

'Tales from the Prep Room: Laser Diffraction'

'Lighting a match with water'

'Tales from the Prep Room: Lighting a match with a single drop of water'

'Steam trains, bridges and potential catastrophe'

'Andrea Sella - Glassblowing and Didymium Glasses'
{With this video, Thunderf00t demonstrated the filtering of an entire city's streetlamps, using the same effect: }

'Creating a Fireball - Pouring Water on an Oil Fire'

Short version:
Long version:

'Contact Explosive - Detonating Nitrogen Triiodide'
Short version:
Long version:

'Reacting Fluorine with Caesium - First Time on Camera'

'Tales from the Prep Room - Paramagnetism of Liquid Oxygen'

'Colour Mixing: The Mystery of Magenta'

'Finding Tiktaalik: Neil Shubin on the Evolutionary Step from Sea to Land'

'Sir David Attenborough Interview - Presenting the 1973 CHRISTMAS LECTURES'

'DemoJam - A Night of Science and Song at the Ri'

'The Vacuum Bazooka'
I've saved the best 'til last. And i want one for myself. But don't worry - you may share :-D


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