Sunday, 14 September 2014

Entertainment stuff from the week 8-14/9/14

Hi scotch prix,

The Formula E season is here!

'FIA Formula E Beijing ePrix 2014'

I'm not going to tell you who won... just skip to one hour in :-P

And on the 18th of September, something else will be somewhere...

'Alex Salmond claims independent Scotland would part own Royal Baby'

The context for everyone else in the world:

Alec Salmon (as he prefers to be known <s>) is the leader of the SNP - the Scottish National Party - which wants to make yet another separate country in the world.

Why? Because humanity isn't divided enough, clearly. And if there's anything nationalists love, it's bringing everyone together around legal-cultural boundaries inhibiting cooperation and community.

Newsthump made up the idea of sharing the royal 'baby' as a parody of Alec's will to 'share' everything he likes, on the basis of "I have an electoral mandate, ergo i can do whatever i like and own whatever i want".

(I say 'baby' in 'inverted commas' because, as a 'republican' i intend to 'make' sure that the 'idea' of being 'a' baby will be obsolete 'by' the time they're 'an' adult) :-P

Salmon's claimed he can continue to use GBP (Great British Pounds, Sterling) and he's claimed to have free choice of the oil from the UKCS (North Sea fossil oil and fossil gas) as well as many other things.

This is, of course, absurd.

Whether he likes it or not (he obviously doesn't) he's going to have to reconcile his interests with the Conservatives who currently hold the balls of Britain, back in Bestminster... Westminster.

If Scotland does separate from the UK (a union that began in 1707, under King James VI of Scotland, who had become King James I of England simultaneously) then a whole load of socialist voters will disappear from the un-UK's electorate, leaving the Anglo-Welsh-and-etcs to suffer an eternal Tory demagoguery!

{On a side note: shouldn't these kinds of votes involve everyone who might be affected by the result? In which case surely non-Scots should have a vote too. Something to think about...}

For Scotland, however, the prospects are... unknown.

A think-through by the brains at New Scientist magazine (they disposed of bodies, way back in the 70s, as was the fashion at the time) has found that uncertainty is the only clear feature of an independent Scottish future. It's the foremost future feature, LOL.

'Four futures for an independent Scotland'

No-one really knows whether Scotland will be left better or worse off, because the fates of small countries are so variable.

So do more than half of the Scottish electorate have the balls to vote "Yes" to independence, massive uncertainty, and division from their friends in England, or will they aggregatively settle for "No"?

There are, of course, nationalists who claim that the only Scots who would consider voting "No" are not really Scottish anyway so don't have a vote; but this isn't true.

This is the second time i've linked to Theramin Trees' 'No True Scotsman' video in three months! Except this time it's literally about Scotsmen :-D

I think i've given away that i'm not keen on further division in the world, so i'd definitely vote "No". But that's not how populist democracies work. The real result awaits...

'Scotland Megamix - Swede Mason'

Ponderings of the week:


"Religious beliefs are an excuse to do bad things. Don't blame religion."

"Feminist beliefs are an excuse to do bad things. Don't blame feminism."

"Quack beliefs are an excuse to do bad things. Don't blame quackery."

You might not have ever said or thought these things, but many people have. What's so wrong with them?

Let's say you're a medical person, for the sake of example. If you wanted to vaccinate millions of children, and i suggested that instead of your medical beliefs - that vaccination is effective in preventing horrid mutilating/lethal diseases - being the cause of your desire to act this way; that your medical beliefs were in fact 'an excuse' to act on your belief-extricated ex-nihilo desire to vaccinate people, then would that make sense to you?

The answer you're looking for begins with an 'n' and ends with an 'o'. I hope.

I also hope that the desire to disassociate causes and effects, when it comes to superstitious beliefs, is a meme that will fade from modern culture.

It's a generic component of mankind, and all intelligent social animals, to make mistakes, and then to be tempted to pretend that they were never made in the first place. This pretence is called self-deception. With small mistakes, we can 'get over ourselves' with our rationality winning out over our emotions.

We accept that we've done something wrong. We acknowledge that, and then we have the bravery to face our own guilt and the shaming of other people, and to use that motive to be better in the future.

In some situations, with some cock-ups, we have socially compartmentalised elevated abilities to do this. With cultural support, a surgeon can say "You have to take over", but without it, they'll blunder on and lose the patient.

When we succomb to our emotions, and let them lead our rationality, we start excusing our mistakes, and ultimately, pretend they were never mistakes in the first place.

It's when these mistakes are built into an ideology - like with religious superstition, pseudo-medical quack superstition, or with the sexist superstition of feminism - that there is strongest motive to pretend that mistakes were never made.

And from this motive comes the idea that a belief - an idea held to be true - can be 'an excuse' for an action, rather than the cause of it. Which is preposterous.

Beliefs determine intent (not outcome) and so someone who intends to do good, and believes that 'x' action will do good, will commit action 'x'. If they are wrong, then they could, very likely, actually be doing harm.

And this is where the motive to self-deceive comes from -- no-one wants to think that they committed evil, by their own metaphorical/literal hands, simply due to incompetence. No-one likes to be thought stupid.

But when people exhibit an ideological superstition (one unsupported by evidence) they are bound to do these things, because rational ideas are not welcome within superstition.

It is not inevitable that people will always be like this. Dislocation of religion from moral culpability is very popular, and has been for thousands of years, but there's no reason to think that it always will be. There are plenty of people willing to condemn religionists for pedophilia, homophobia, etc. In the end, there won't be any religion left to excuse.

But the broader lesson to learn, is this:

If you are supportive of people who should accept that they've made mistakes, then they will be likewise, and eventually that support might even come back to you. So that when you make an inglorious shash-up of something, and you feel tempted to brush it under a metaphorical rug, your peers will help you to see that the best way forward is to accept your mistake.

They won't treat you with an infantile desire for vengeance, because you didn't do that to them... and they won't say blatantly preposterous things through self-deception regarding an ideological affiliation they've made.

Idealism? Yes. Pipe-dream? No.

Go forth and do the change you wish to see in the world.

{Bloody Gandhi, ckufing up grammar...} :-P

And now, some astronomical magnificence...

'Conversations on Dark Matter with Katie Mack'

'Conversations on Dark Matter with Katie Mack: Part 1'

'Conversations on Dark Matter with Katie Mack: Part 2'

'Conversations on Dark Matter w/ Katie Mack: Part 3'

'Conversations on Dark Matter w/ Katie Mack: Part 4'

Four episodes of cosmological awesomeness from the last couple of months :0)

I've never seen these before, but says there's going to be a new series of monthly public lectures, by the Perimeter Institute, webcasted from October 2014 onwards. If you watched Katie Mack, then maybe they'll be of interest to you, too.


The 10th of September was the 30th anniversary of Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys' discovery of DNA fingerprinting. This is a noteable topical fact, mispoetically speaking, given the 'Jack the Ripper' story that i have mentioned within the 'In other news' section.

In other news:

The Science Museum, in London, UK, has received its largest ever donation - £5 million - from the David and Claudia Harding Foundation, which has donated £40 million in total to 'scientific, academic and humanitarian causes'. Their Foundation is funded by Winton Capital Group, which was founded in 1997 in order to raise capital through the most scientific methods available. Clearly, something worked!

There have been two stories about Stonehenge, this week. The first is one that the Linear Media took up, in which half the world's hacks gawped at the idea of Stonehenge being round, and the other half shoved their heads even further up their arses, so that they could convince themselves that archaeologists gawped at the idea of Stonehenge being a complete circle. I mean just Google it - the Grauniad, Torygraph, etc, all have limp-wristed rubber-necked articles by pseuds, pretending they knew better than the archeologists all along. It's stomach-churning self-aggrandisement! In reality, archeologists have known Stonehenge formed a complete circle for decades - a fact put on the H2G2 as many as 8 years ago.

The second story is a lot more fascinating, and so the Linear Media almost completely failed to take it up. A geophysical analysis of features within the few kilometres around Stonehenge, has found a wondrous variety of alternative sites, and complementary structures, that fit in with the favoured idea of Stonehenge being built for astronomy-related purposes. The University of Birmingham's press release reads 'New digital map reveals stunning hidden archaeology of Stonehenge' and i'm inclined to agree. Even the nature of the technology still wows me - using light, in wavelengths we can't pick up with our own eyes, to look into the ground. That's literally it! Amazing. If you're in time, you can catch the BBC's documentary on the subject: 'Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath' on iPlayer. I haven't seen it, at the time of writing, however, so i don't know how much Humanities-grade-gawping they do. Ten minutes of actual content? :o)

"I was shocked. I looked at it, and you can definitely see the face of Jesus." You should already know what to expect of this photo :-D
{Click the top link for more detail, and the bottom one for a bigger picture}

And here's a picture of Jesus' face on a moth :o)

This story's literally 'man bites dog' LOL

And this story's 'man bites'. Yet another someone trying to sell a book by presenting yet another guess for the aggregate of cases known as the 'Jack the Ripper' cases. The guy claims to have received a shawl from one of the victims - Catherine Eddowes - and that it has semen stains on it, from which mitochondrial DNA has been taken. The genotype seems to best match (best match) a Polish immigrant called Aaron Kosminski, who probably left semen over every prostitute in Whitechapel if he left some on this one! Remember: we have no idea whom this shawl actually came from, in the first place. Basically, this is just another huy trying to sell a book.

But even though the guy who's trying to sell his book, had employed the expertise of a Finnish historic-DNA expert - Dr. Jari Louhelainen - all of this 'evidence' will not be presented in any kind of scientific journal. Apparently. So it can't cut scientific muster, but it can... get published in the Daily Fail? It sounds like the guy Rippered himself, LOL - no-one with any credibility deliberately publishes in the Daily Mail, as a preference.

Fraudsters have been quick to jump on the Scottish independence referendum, by claiming that Nessie has already moved south - to the Lake District, in Cumbria! It must be getting cramped, in there, as less-scrupulous people have already claimed Windermere to have a monster in it - Bownessie. Lake Tahoe and many other lakes are claimed to have monsters in them, as well. What with these huge beasts around, you would have thought someone would get a better picture than this, of at least one of them :-D

Whales' hind legs are vestigial, right? Wrong. Researchers at the University of Southern California and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County have found that hip-bones remain, not due to lack of time to evolve to nothing, but because they have a function - sex! In order to support larger testicles and larger penises, structural supports are necessary, and bones do very nicely. In species where females bonk lots of males as part of reproductive strategy, there is evolutionary pressure for testicles in those males to get bigger. More promiscuous males also develop larger penises. Across whale species, the researchers have found a correlation between genital size and pelvic bone size, regardless of neighbouring rib bones, which suggests that those bones have been repurposed as structural supports to the reproductive organs. Male Blue Whales have penises three metres long - now that's what i call a boner :-D

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

'ScienceCasts: Jellyfish Flame on the International Space Station'

'Lorenz: Hitler's "Unbreakable" Cipher Machine'

'What is Ebola? - A Week in Science'

'Earth In 200 Million Years'

'Friedman Numbers - Numberphile'

'Curiosity Rover Report: We made it! Curiosity reaches Mount Sharp (Sept. 11 2014) [HD]'

'NASA | Ionospheric Holes on Venus [HD]'

'Dancing flames'

'How to Draw a Stick Figure (School of Youtube)'

'Man arrested for theft'

'Wobbly Circles - Numberphile'

'Exploding Pianos - Periodic Table of Videos'

'YouTube Love Child with WOTO'
Comedy quizzes: one of my favourite forms of entertainment :-D

'I tiled my bathroom and accidentally created the café wall illusion. When I grouted the tiles, the illusion went away'

'The talented Maria Cork made and kindly sent me this enigma. A solid bolt in a solid piece of wood! Any ideas?'

'Eager fan spots giant red arrow shapes on leaked Star Wars set photos'

'Apple Watch to finally make eye-contact obsolete'
"Fans of Apple have reacted with delight at the announcement, and are expected to begin queueing the moment someone puts out a sign saying ‘Apple Watch here in about 6 months’."
{The context: }

'VIDEO: Boater Catches Explosive Volcanic Eruption, Startling Sonic Boom on Camera'

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

Word Of The Week: rambunctious -- a person or group that is difficult to control, boisterous, or noisy

Expression Of The Week: 'good riddance' -- a termination or departure that the quoter is glad of

Quote Of The Week: "Religious belief is without reason and without dignity, and its record is near-universally dreadful."- Martin Amis

Fact Of The Week: There is a restaurant in Tokyo that serves dishes from a menu with an odd ingredient - dirt. The menu includes black dirt soup, dirt ice cream, vegetable salad with black dirt dressing, sea bass with dirt risotto, and dirt mint tea. The name of the restaurant is 'Ne Quittez Pas' (french for 'don't leave') I'm not surprised.

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

'Rosetta Tattoo'

'Tasteless Tuna?'

'Do you take this shark to be...?'

'Some useful infographics from'

'Public Information Films UK - Jo and Petunia - 1965 to 1973'

'Public Information Films UK - Blood Donors - Glenda Jackson & Ernie Wise (1980)'

The world's largest musical instrument at 3.5 acres across: the Luray Cavern's Stalacpipe organ

'The Great Stalacpipe Organ'

'Luray Caverns, VA. Stalactite "Organ Music"'

'The Stalacpipe Organ on "Ripley's Believe It or Not"'

1 comment:

  1. Update: Having now seen the 'Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath' documentary, i can confirm that the scientific quality is high, but the dramatic 'this is what paleolothic man really looked like' interludes... were crap. Science, 10000000; Humanities, Nil :-D The end-of-programme trailer for part 2 doesn't seem very promising however - speculation galore :-D