Sunday, 3 August 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 28/7 - 3/8/14

Hi Ringers,

Biggest news of the week... Dead Ringers is back!!!!!!!

'Series 12 - Episode 1'

They did seven TV series too. I wonder whether there's another video series coming up...

Oh, btw. It helps if you know who they're doing impressions of ;-)

Sciencey bits of the week:

Dinosaurs and feathers.

'Most Dinosaurs May Have Had Feathers'

'Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into flying birds (w/ Video)'

Basically, there are two things to remember about this whole subject:

1) Fur, feathers, and scales, are all made of overlapping threads of keratin - the same substance that nails and horns are made out of.
2) It is now accepted that there are two kinds of dinosaurs - non-avian dinosaurs that go "rawr" and avian dinosaurs whose descendant forms are not extinct.

When archaeopteryx was discovered, it became clear that keratin fibres had been grown into feathers for millions of years, and that the fundamental commonality with modern birds went further than hip-shape.

In fact, when Jurassic Park III was made, the reply "no feathers" left dinosaur fans disappointed, because evidence shows the raptors to have been feathery animals.

It is perfectly plausible that, like modern birds' chicks, juvenile non-avian dinosaurs living tens of millions of years ago, could have had furry/downy feathers - something younglings of avian and mammalian species still have in common today.

Essentially, because fur, feathers, and scales are made of the substance, with only their structure distinguishing them, there is every reason to think that dinosaurs - scaly reptiles - could also have had feathers. Or the much-simpler fur. Dinosaurs and mammals, after all, have common ancestors in the synapsids. Although that part of the evolutionary tree's still very fuzzy. No pun intended.

It is the species of dinosaurs that developed feathers, that also demonstrated greater ability to adapt to circumstance. That is the nature of evolution. Even just within the paradigm of featheriness, feathers are much more easily adapted to insulation than scales are, meaning avian dinosaur ancestors would have adapted more easily to temperature-related climatic fluctuations.

When the K-Pg extinction event happened (there's an explanation of that in the 'of the weeks' section) 67 million years ago, it was the larger, hungrier animals that went the way of... well, the dinosaurs, really. While smaller species survived.

Ancient avian dinosaurs, with their superior thermodynamic properties, lower dependance on huge abundance of food (due to being smaller) and superior ability to adapt to changing circumstances, were the superior species that won out in the evolutionary race.

All of this research, as well as filling in the history of past changes, also supports the contemporary observation that birds are here, and that the big roary things are not.

Want to know what it would be like to live with dinosaurs? Well, evolutionarily speaking, you can go one better - you can live with their evolutionary superiors - any of 10,000 species of them.

P.S. I am a Tapejara. Not a dinosaur :-P


''Killer sperm' prevents mating between worm species'

It's been found, in Caenorhabditis worms, that when C. briggsae and C. nigoni are brought together to do the dance of the two worms, the C. nigoni sperm are so powerful, that they invade the rest of the host's body, destroying its organs like a bacterial infection would.

I say "host's" because Caenorhabditis species are all hermaphroditic - they have males, and hermaphrodites, but no females.

Species are rule-of-thumbly defined by ability to 'breed inside its populationary group, but not outside it'.

Overpowered killer sperm are not the only way to achieve this, however. Wrong numbers of chromosomes can cause infertility, for the reasons outlined by Alex Dainis in this recent video:

'Seedless Watermelon Genetics! - Bite Sci-zed'


'Maybelline Introduces New Ideal-Woman Rubber Mask To Use In Place Of Makeup'
"now women can simply roll out of bed, grab their stunning latex polymer beauty mask that has been molded to accepted standards of female beauty, and stretch it snugly over their face and hair,” Maybelline spokeswoman Jessica Healy said,36588/

This is classic satire. The whole point of the 'personal care' industry; or as i call it, the 'aesthetic insecurity industry' is to erase all idiosyncrasies that might facilitate the deepening of emotional bonds in relationships. By telling people (men and woman alike, nowadays) that they must erase these idiosyncrasies, they keep emotional bonds weak, people shallow, relationships short, and thereby sales high, as those same people desparately try to attract a mate. Or 'partner' as you humans say; because your hubris means you always have to have a different word for own species!
The 'Ideal-Woman Rubber Mask' fulfils all of the criteria of aesthetic insecurity industry products, while still managing to make it look ludicrous. ...although i don't expect they discuss the relational motive in boardrooms :-P

'Men Think Women Who Listen To Them Are Sexier',36583/

This is also good satire... not that sexists will appreciate it, LOL. By turning the stereotype around, you can see that, actually, it still applies. WTF?!? Men do care whether they're being listened to, and women do care about sex; but we usually only hear about men who want sex, and women who want to be listened to. Incidentally: i wonder whether sexist people find this one funnier than i do?? Good satire can be taken multiple ways. Just like... Stop that sniggering, at the back! :-P

'UK DNA research to focus on getting you drunk more easily'

“Look, we have to go where the interest is – and right now most British people would take a cheap night out ahead of a cure for cancer. Sorry.”

Ah, Newsthump. So topical, and yet also so forward-looking. I adore you :-D

'UK road users demand driverless cars learn appropriate ‘wanker sign’'
“This abuse is a road-based interaction as much a part of driving on British roads as passing a test, and unless these driverless cars understand rudimentary swearing and hand gestures, I can’t see how this is workable?”

Here's the UK driverless car reference, by the way:

'Britain to trial driverless cars from 2015'

In other news:

Bad stuff first...

Mike Adams - the 'Health Deranger' who runs the Natural News website that advises people to avoid real medicine and instead take quack bullshit - has made a public call to murder anyone who is either pro-GMOs or is just not-anti-GMOs. This is his requote: “it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.” He claims, profusely, that the development of more-nutritious vegetables, is one of those crimes against humanity, which would justify the execution of anyone who is slightly sane about the matter! It is people like Adams who are responsible for perpetrating fad diets of myriad kinds, to sell their useless/dangerous products; and it should therefore be no wonder that Rationalists immediately consider anyone involved in such an industry to be disreputable!

He also referenced and linked to someone's compiled a list of 'Monsanto collaborators' (note the conflation of capitalism with genetic science) who should be executed by anti-GMO activists. It turns out that he wrote that site. He said non-anti-GM people should be killed; and then he compiled a list of people whom he wanted dead. No wonder the FBI's investigating him for inciting violence! Remember: this guy is one of the ring-leaders in the anti-GM movement - he's not just a sideline nutbag - his Natural News website is cited by a wide range of superstitionists, from Dr. Oz, to Food Babe, to plenty i've never heard of. If this isn't a cause to doubt anti-GM propaganda... well, i just don't know what else to say.

Here's a recently-published video about GMOs... or more precisely, dodgy anti-GMO propaganda:

'Bad Science in Australian Pig Feed Study'

While deliberate deaths are not the mainstay of superstition-determined fatalities, the accidental ones will continue to pile up. A 16-year-old girl has had the good-fortune to survive 'treatment' from a New Zealand 'alternative' practitioner. They believed in auras, and that drowning can be used to identify those auras, in order to fix auric problems. But of course, there's no such thing.
All the girl had was migraines, muscle pain and period problems, and she nearly left without her life! She described the experience as "traumatic" and i'm not surprised, especially as the charlatan, like usual, had a negligible understanding of how consent works - the girl hadn't been told what would be done to them! You would have thought, with all the feminism about nowadays, and the rape-based rhetoric, that this (female) quack would be more assertive about it... especially with a teenage girl. Unfortunately, pseudomedical fraudsters are commonly incompetent when it comes to consent. Chiropractors, for example, will rarely tell someone that neck manipulation causes strokes and death, when they're just about to make some money out of it.

Here's a recently-published article about the dangers of Chiropractic neck manipulation:

'Upper Neck Manipulation: Caveats for Patients and Providers'

Ukippers in Glastonbury find themselves divided, over such woo-woo nonsense, however. Two of them have resigned the Wells constituency, ahead of the coming General Election, claiming that the Party has been 'infiltrated by the Glastonbury occult’. Hmm... now in which world do fuzzy-headed, gullible, superstitious people buy up bullshit claims all over the place, just because they sound nice and easy to understand? Oh - that would be this one! I'm not surprised that the Christian Nationalists of UKIP have commonality with Reikiological charlatans. Not one bit. Now, if we expel all the racio-nationally impure people, this problem might go away... <s>

Here's a recently-published article about the dangers of Ukipping:

'Comment #25: How Farcical Can Ukippers Really Be?'

Predatory superstitionists in West Africa have been warned that they might be arrested, if they make claims to treat/cure people of Ebola. "A government official in Lagos state has issued a stern warning: Pastors claiming to have cured Ebola could face jail time". We're talking Jesusianismists who are touching cloth, here - not itinerant preachers. It is because of religious superstition that these people think they can 'treat' without medicine, and that people think they can be treated without it. It is religion, after all, that is the brand of supersition to put most effort into persuading people to think that faithing something - believing it on the grounds of nothing-at-all - is a good, respectable, worthwhile thing to do. Pastor Ighodalo has stated "[the] living words of Jesus [are] all that are needed to cure the deadly disease" adding that the mere laying of hands on those afflicted with the incurable Ebola virus is all that is required to liberate them. This activity, of course, can only displace real medicine,  and increase the death count.

And now to better news...

Due to human error, and computation based on that error, a family in Lancashire, UK, has been served with an electricity bill of £53,480,062.00 In fact, they were owed £1,362.69 for being in credit on their account. But don't worry - they didn't have to pay it - the company immediately recognised that it was an error. Makes a change! Shame they don't do that with smaller amounts :-/

Due to human idiosyncrasy, a man has decided that a valid way to coax people into giving money to charity, is to push a sprout up Mount Snowden, with his nose. The summit is 1085m above sea level, and he can do about 180m per hour (sideways). Cameraman Richard Crump, who is filming Mr Kettell's challenge, said: "The first day has been gruelling for Stuart. He has no skin on his knees, his back is hurting and his neck is really tired. But he is still going." No skin on his knees? I think that might be an exaggeration. He wouldn't have any knees, at that rate, by the time he got to the top! Oh, btw, he replaces the sprout every time it crumbles apart. Let's hope he doesn't run out :-D

The European Space Agency (ESA)'s Rosetta spacecraft has used its visible, infrared and thermal imaging spectrometer - VIRTIS - to measure the temperature of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, revealing a surface temperature (they can't probe internal temperatures without being physically in it) of –70ºC! Actually, that's 20–30ºC warmer than predicted, for a comet 555 million kilometres from the Sun at the time, so the physicists have concluded that the comet must have a dusty surface. The reasoning is that ice is highly reflective of warming sunlight, which keeps the surface cool. Dust, however, is darker, and absorbs more heat, so a warmer surface will be dustier. This article outlines the vast difficulty in getting Rosetta to the comet in the first place, and also the funky path involved in getting into orbit.

Andreas Fath, Professor of Physical and Analytical Chemistry at Furtwangen University and a specialist in ecological engineering, has commenced a four-week 1,231-kilometre swim down the Rhine river, to raise money (€100,000) for a high-tech water analysis tool, in order to... check the Rhine for pollutants. Now that's commitment!

Physicist creates ice cream that changes colors as it’s licked
Probably the funkiest, but least reliable story of this week, is of the ice-cream that changes colour as you lick it. Named Xamaleón, and apparently tasting like tutti-frutti, a 'secret ingredient' changes from blue, to pink, to purple, as it interacts with chemicals in your own saliva, and the heat that warms it up. What makes this story unreliable, is that the guy apparently also claims this 'secret ingredient' to be a potent aphrodisiac... [coughs] bullshit! There are no chemical aphrodisiacs that work in humans. The only aphrodisiac is of feeling wanted. Maybe unfortunate, but true. Here's a video of the ice-cream in action, by the way. I would be a fool to be convinced by what i've seen so far, but i'm sure interesting things can happen.

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

'Soused Sarah Ssshpeaks to Conssshervativesssssh'

'Ohh La La'

'What Causes Autism?'
Very entertaining... if you really love science ;-)

'A Scientist Pans for Gold!'

'Mass and Weight are (sort of) the SAME'

'First video of living giant deep-sea 'shrimp''
If you read the article, you'll see that this one's about 25cm long, but that the biggest seen on the dive was 34cm!

'The Amazing Human Body - A Week in Science'

'Testing Heaven(s) - Musings on an Afterlife'
For people who 'couldn't' get through their real life without a belief in an afterlife: how would you get through that afterlife, if it were real? Belief in an afterafterlife? ...and then an afterafterafterlife? ............

'How to fold your shirt in under 2 seconds!'

'Do You Know God?'
You have a personal relationship with... what? It can't be the same thing, because you all disagree.

[knowing look] :-P

'More Awkward Moments'

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

Word Of The Week: cromulent -- one of the many neologisms (newly made words or phrases) of the Simpsons TV show. Within the show, it means 'valid' or 'acceptable'; outside the show, it's used in an ironic sense e.g. "Your argument for god's existence sounds cromulent, to me"

Article Title Misreading-By-Me Of The Week: 'Beer At Budapest Zoo Saves Drowning Cow'

Article Title Definitely-Not-A-Misreading-By-Me Of The Week: 'Researchers find sperm benefit from grouping together in mice' (so presumably, someone's going to open a mouse bank, where men can leave their sperm, for safety's sake)

Etymology Of The Week: retort -- a sharp angry or witty reply, from latin 'torquere' meaning 'to twist'; common etymologies include the word 'torque' which literally means a circular, twisting force, and the word 'torture' which comes through the latin 'tortura' meaning 'a twisting, writhing' of the torture victim. Note, pedants, that the word 'retort' is now a noun, derived from the verb form :-P

Redefinitioning Of The Week: the Tertiary period of Earth's history has not happened, anymore. Instead, it's been replaced with the Paleogene and Neogene periods. So instead of the famous 'K-T boundary' being the one across which the non-avian dinosaurs went extinct, it's now having had been done retrospectively, now but back then presently, the 'K-Pg boundary'. It's not as catchy, but you can see the reasoning at the Wiki page. At least 'Sporty' will find it more difficult to confuse with a mountain now, LOL. Oh, btw, BBC et al, the meteorite did* wipe out the dinosaurs, you scientifically illiterate oafs! [tuts vigorously] :-D

Number Of The Week: 10,000 -- the number of reptile species on the Reptile Database, a web-based catalogue of all living reptile species and classification, that was surpassed recently. "Previously, 10,000 was considered the landmark number because there are approximately 10,000 bird species. However, we can predict that reptiles will be more speciose, at least on paper, than birds very soon. Finally, reptiles will be the most speciose vertebrate group after fish," said Peter Uetz, founder editor and curator of the Reptile Database, which he operates together with Jiří Hošek, a programmer in the Czech Republic.

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

'Queen + Adam Lambert: Somebody To Love Merriweather 20 July 2014'

'Secrets Of The Body'

'Optical Illusion paintings by Oleg Shuplyak'
Beautiful pareidolia :-D

'How To Recognize The Artists Of Paintings'

'Gorgeous Vintage Advertisements for Heroin, Cannabis and Cocaine'

'Probably not the best place to put the author's name'

'The Joy Formidable'
At time of posting, this was still real!

'"Eye of the tiger" on dot matrix printer'
Go to the channel itself, and you'll see that that printer's sung a lot more than just 'Eye Of The Tiger' :-D

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Tony Abbott, President of the USA of Australia (HBO)'

More about Abbott's awful governance, here:

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Letter of the Week -- POM Wonderful (Web Exclusive) (HBO)'

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Death Penalty (HBO)'

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Right To Be Forgotten (HBO)'

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Right To Be Forgotten (HBO)'

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Net Neutrality (HBO)'

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Don't Visit Antarctica (HBO)'

'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: iTunes, Assad, and Right Said Fred (HBO)'

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