Monday, 12 January 2015

Entertainment stuff from the period 29/12/14 - 11/1/15

Bonjour Charlie,

If you're already fed up of hearing about the offenses on Charlie Hebdo, then just skip down to the green writing. I'm going to put the commentary in a separate mini-essay anyway.

'JE SUIS CHARLIE' - Theramin Trees

'JE SUIS CHARLIE!' - Thunderf00t

Why would anyone do something like this?

I've heard it said that it's not about theology. I've even heard whiney shitbags say it's not about religion at all, and that ideological motives can in no way be held accountable for subsequent atrocities! (By Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. I will not link them here, because i don't want to reward them with publicity and ad revenue)

They call it insanity. They construe 'alternative' explanations. They contrive any excuse they can. They say it's about power. But is it about power? Well, it is, but only tangentially.

It's a scramble for the power to enforce religious dogma. This means it is theological. This means it is a consequence of religion, and therefore superstitious belief.

As i have said before, in less emotionally-charged times: superstitious beliefs cause good-intending people to commit evil, on purpose, simply through being wrong. Religious groups around the world vie for power to enforce the pseudo-justice that they deludedly think is moral, the same way shuteye quacks kill their patients through believing their own pseudomedical frauds.

In just the same way, Political Parties vie for seats in councils and governments (and hence power) to impose what they see as justice, on the people around them. Manifestos vary, because opinions vary on what people think 'the right thing' looks like. UKIP, for a contemporary example, wants the power to make it national policy to evict people they don't like from the archipelago. This bid for ethnic cleansing is not religious (although fascism and Communism can be seen as parareligions, because of how largely their ideologies draw from religion) but it is certainly bigoted - power permits the bigotry to be acted on - it is not the motive itself.

When Islamists kill cartoonists, they think they are doing something that's just, in the grand scheme of things. Capital Punishment for blasphemy is seen as a just thing to do because it is, because it is, because it is. They raise supermosques and organise rallies, to garner support, to gain power, so that they can impose the dogma that they think is justice itself. This is true whether they call themselves 'fundamentalists' or 'moderates' or neither.

And this is how 'moderates' fuel the atrocities of the minority. It's the same with Christians and UKIP voters, and others. Most Christians don't approve of the actions of the minority, but they still donate money to Faithful causes, and add their names to the powerbase that religious organisations depend on. This is especially the case in a modern populist democracy. Christian organisations in the UK call for the execution of homosexuals, and because they're Christian they get invited by the BBC to campaign for it. All because 54% of the population vaguely affiliates to a 2000-year-old middle-eastern cult, purportedly making it worthy of 'representation'.

Similarly, most UKIP voters aren't voting for them because they want to see another racist-nationalist holocaust, or even because they really hate rhinos. Their name is earned on flaky, shallow grounds - rebellion against the 'mainstream' Parties - but this won't stop UKIP from voting in favour of the poaching that funds organisations like Boko Haram.

This is a fundamental problem with factionalism: when you give them your name, you don't get to choose what they do with it.

Most Muslims won't approve of the Charlie Hebdo assailants, in the same way most Christians won't approve of Anders Breivik's killing 77 people for being "heathens", because humans are humans, and even religion can't stop them from wanting to be good. But that doesn't change the anti-social motives of the religious enthusiasts. And we shouldn't allow factionalistic propaganda to mar our perceptions of people, through equivocation of affiliation and belief. A recent study has found that US 'News' shows far overrepresent crimes by Muslims and Latinos. They're not all the shady evils that factionalists want you to think they are.

Concordant with the Nye-Ham Creationism v. Reality debate; whether good is a greater product of the ongoing 'discussion' than evil is, depends on which narratives are favoured. If the organisations with the loudest voices reiterate religion-sympathetic excuses, instead of mature criticisms, then they will make their contribution to society a pro-violence one.

In the last week, i have heard some truly terrifically bad arguments excusing the serial killers involved in the Charlie Hebdo attacks. One being this:

"Free speech is overrated. What if someone made a cartoon mocking the holocaust? How would you be expected to react?"

This is an attempt to excuse the perpetrators, and blame the victims for the acts of the perpetrators. Like blaming a girl for being raped, because she wore a short skirt. It's a denial of the killers' personal responsibility. I can imagine being accused of 'making it worse' by saying that it's OK to mock superstitions, and thereby incur others' wrath; but, ironically, those accusers would be the ones to make it worse, by normalising those bigots' responses. It should never be considered normal to kill over a cartoon.

Drawing with a pen, and drawing a gun, are almost non-comparable as a means of attack, because they are so starkly different. If you don't like a cartoon you've seen, then just do one of your own. That would be proportionate.

'He Drew First'

But what if an Islamist magazine did do cartoons making fun of the holocaust? Would it even be within the realms of possibility, that you might expect a group of humanists to form a mob, hunt down the cartoonists, and then behead them?

The very idea that a bunch of limp-wristed, liberal, can't-we-all-get-alongers would contemplate such an act, is unintuitive to the extent of perversity! How about this one:

"In case you are confused. This is a terrorist. This is a Muslim" {You really have to see the picture}

Again, the real, underlying perpetrator is superstition itself. Religionists love to equivocate between people and beliefs, because then they can obfuscate the real evil. Would you not complain, if you saw an image of an Iranian mother of three children being stoned to death, with the labels "This is a Muslim", "This is an adulterer"? They are both Muslims. The primary victims of a superstition are its own believers.

In parallel, Christians claim to be 'the most persecuted religion' (semantic sic) with 100,000 martyred every year. Really? Of course not. Most of that figure comes from civil war in the DR Congo, where it's Christians killing Christians for being the wrong kind of person. Identification of the affiliation of the victim tells us nothing about the motives of the perpetrator. {Skip to 11 minutes in the source, for the reference}
These narratives, like others, have been tolerated, housed, reiterated, and thereby endorsed, by the organisations that have most influence on what people think about the events that are currently still unfolding in France, as i write this.

But i didn't expect them to behave in any other way than they did last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, etc. Every time, they try to wring the last, tragic drop of excitement out of it. I've seen pictures of the accused many times more than i've seen pictures of the victims. Who are they trying to humanise? I'm not prone to conspiracy superstitions though - i think they humanise the perpetrators more, as a side-effect of their lust for drama. "Is this the face of a killer?", etc.

But with all seriousness, i still call our newspapers and TV News stations complicit in the campaigns of the Charlie Hebdo terrorisers - the one thing they seek, from these very-public atrocities, is the publicity itself - they desire to reach out to people who might sympathise with them, and consolidate their power base.

Every time a serial killing of any kind, or even a suicide, makes the headlines, psychologists point out that the publicity incurs copycat behaviour. But the Media don't listen, because they have a common motive with the religionists - publicity. Publicity increases membership/readership, which increases funds/revenue, which increases market power / peer pressure, which increases their ability to do whatever they please. In the case of the religionists, it's the imposition of dogma that most people haven't even heard of, let alone actively subscribed to.

I find it stomach-churning, every time the Media get a collective priapism, telling us what a terrible tragedy it all is, with recordings of sirens wailing in the background, dramatic music, and stark, stern mugshots of the evil people who'd exploit such a terrible event for personal gain. The religionists and the journalists/newsreaders alike.

Here's NewsWipes piece on the 'tragic' exploitation of events like these: {Apologies, if the link has since broken}

So where should society go from here? How can we prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future?

I'm not yet sure, but i think the first lesson for the Linear Media, should be to enforce regulations that relegate publicity for ideologues and lone-assassins away from headlines, so that future potential killers don't think there's a name to be made from copying their predecessors. All Lee Harvey Oswald wanted was a place in history. He wanted a name for himself. And now everybody knows it. Because all the rubberneckers and conspiracy theorists made it happen. They gave him what he wanted.

All the Islamists want is publicity, so that they can reach out and indoctrinate more people. And they're being given it. I don't have a PhD in early-20th century history, but i do know that Jews committed similar atrocities to contemporary Muslims, when they were campaigning for a Jewish State. Note that they got it: Israel. No conspiracy theory necessary! And now that they have the infrastructure to persecute Muslims, and the moral impunity to do so freely (because their criticisers fear being called 'anti-semitic') they have an atrocity record to vie with the other Abrahamic sects.

From a State point of view, the watchword should be 'consistency'. This cause adds to Britain's trouble with Islamists - it has an Established (meaning it meddles in government affairs) Christian Church. Which is not fair. One of the atrocities of the senile-late-Blair-led Labour government was to permit the development of Sharia Courts, with the nihilistic excuse that 'it's their culture'.

If Christian bigotry is tolerated then why not other forms of it? Christian Creationist schools in the UK regularly get reviewed as 'outstanding' by OfStEd - the UK's schools regulatory body; but as we heard earlier this year, the same prejudice is not afforded to Islam-infiltrated schools. Why are ACE schools allowed to tell kids that God made the world in six days, but Muslims aren't allowed to tell kids that saltwater doesn't mix with freshwater? It's not fair. It's not consistent.

Consistency earns respect from the less-enthusiastic majority. People don't mind being taxed, as long as others are paying their fare share. Ultimately, we're all just trying to keep up with the Joneses. If the mantra were that schools were for 'teaching, not for preaching' and that all religion should be treated the same way, then the less-religiously-enthusiastic majority of religious populations would not feel subjugated by a perceived sectarian conflict.

"Editor Stephane Charbonnier, who according to French media was killed in the attack, told Reuters in 2012 that nobody noticed when [Charlie Hebdo] ridiculed Catholic traditionalists. “But we are not allowed to make fun of Muslim hardliners. It’s the new rule... but we will not obey it,” he said."

Secondly, there has been far too much leniency towards religious rituals in general. In past Paris, in particular, Islamists have lined the streets to pray, in order to bully the City into letting them do what they like. It came to be banned, in 2011. Also, while 'les cloches de l'enfer' (the bells of hell) are allowed to peel through Muslims' (and everyone else's) windows every time the Christians have a cult gathering, it seems like sectarian subjugation to deny Muslims the same non-privilege of being allowed to conduct their own deranged rituals.

None of this will change the problem of superstition itself, but it's widely ignored (and even denied) that people respect State decrees. When a government says 'we're going to do this' a minority will shout about it, but months and years down the line, everyone's just adapted to the new norm. The followers will find something better to do, and the charlatans will find a different career. This has already happened with the taming of Christianity, in many areas of Europe. Change is possible.

The problem of people hurting each other through superstitious beliefs - being wrong - will continue, but it would be minimised if there were a general acceptance that recognised superstitions are bad things, whether they're called 'Religion' or not.

That last point is what makes me so angry with people who try to excuse beliefs from obviously-evidential causation. Again, i'm not shooting from the metaphorical hip, here - i've issued this sentiment in non-emotionally-charged circumstances too:

Beliefs are not excuses - they never have been, and they never will be.

Superstitious beliefs do cause superstitionists to kill people, and they have in this case. Denial of this fact can only hinder understanding of how to prevent it from happening again. That lack of understanding means it's going to happen again, with the accidental complicity of:

- Newspapers and TV channels who give perpetrators the publicity they desparately seek.

- Governments who have their own mistaken beliefs about religious segregation, and who glibly equivocate between morality and dogma.

- Individuals who think they're defending their religious peers by pretending that religion has nothing to do with any crime ever.

To an economist, this is every human motive contributing to a result: the Media have a financial motive; the governments have a social motive; and the individuals have a moral motive. And they're all pulling the wrong way.

Why? Because they're wrong.

", once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without a rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck." - Thomas Jefferson, in a letter written in 1822, mentioning Christianity (he was a Unitarian)

Theramin Trees' second-to-last video was on the subject of:

'telling stories'

It's about how narratives are used to persuade. Persuasion, however, is a tool - it can be used for good, and it can be used for evil.

When people favour evidence over narrative, they filter out the erroneous stories and find their way to the truth. When they favour narrative over evidence, they find their way to convenient lies, that make appealing comforting stories, that do not at all resemble the truth.

The story that religious superstition is a force for good, and that religious people are good people, like they're characters in a cartoon drama, who are fighting against the evil people (whomever they are) is a very appealing one. It's simple, it's convenient, and it's easy.

It's all very hand-wavey and vague and mystical and that's because it's a fairy story. It's nonsense. It bears no relation to the real world. But it sounds nice. Just call yourself a Christian/Muslim/whatever and put some money on the plate, and the world will sort itself out... somehow.

Religion -- the original slacktivism.

Don't do it because it's easy. But don't necessarily do it because it's hard. Do it because it helps.

Unfortunately, it takes effort to work out what really helps, in the real world. The answers humanity has already found are heretical to so many religions. Just by trying to be a good person, you make yourself a blasphemer. We must all fight for a right to freedom from our own flaws. We must all fight for a right to freedom from religion.

Je suis Charlie. Je suis blasphème. Je suis hérésie. Que je veux la liberté.

Something far more frivolous...

'Feast of Duos "The Loser Takes It All" - Trailer'

Christian Reilly's new album is entirely free!

In the e-mail, he says he'd prefer people to e-mail him with the word 'Ebeneezer' (nothing else necessary) because then he can e-mail them about future things he has. But if you're impatient, you can just do this...

To download and distribute (and he does want you to spread it around) just follow this link:

{Ignore the entreatments to joining Dropbox, and just click 'Download'}

Also, here's a live set what he did:

In other news:

By Friday the 9th, the #Jesuischarlie hashtag had been retweeted more than 5 million times, as people showed solidarity with the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo magazine. The #Ferguson hashtag was the most tweeted of 2014, with more than 18 million tweets.

According to 'the largest ever review of personality and academic performance' long-term success at learning is better predicted by personality than by intelligence. What does this mean? Well it means that people who are more willing to put in effort - to practice - reach higher heights than their peers, who consider themselves 'intelligent' and rest on their laurels - who don't put the necessary work into practicing things, and thereby don't improve as fast.

Traffic police have been told to wear nappies (diapers) ahead of The Pope's visit to the Philippines. Surely the cost of fawning over random bigots isn't justified? Nah - superstitious beliefs can justify anything. Right? <s>

Those crazy Swedes have done an awesome skit about penises and vaginas, featuring cartoons of the aforementioned organs (called 'Snipp' and 'Snopp'), on a children's TV show. It's apparently supposed to help kids realise that 'those bits' are just as 'normal' as any other and so should not be feared. Also, the video's fantastic :-D

Did you hear the story about the 'Nazi cows'? Well, obviously, they don't exist as described. Cows have no understanding of how to join the Nazi Party, so they can hardly be Nazi cows. But they are a breed of cattle - Heck cattle - that Nazis had bred, for the sake of exciting hunting. They thought it would be more exciting to hunt the extinct aurochs, which were reputed to be highly aggressive, so they just bred some highly-aggressive cows that looked a bit similar to aurochs. They're not aurochs, and they're not Nazis, but they are violent, and half of them have been made into sausage meat, because they're safer that way.

There's a story going around, that Colds (caused by the rhinovirus) are actually more likely to be caught, in cold weather. This is an old wives' tale, and it is not supported by recently-published research, as reported. The researchers found that rhinovirus particles replicate more effectively at 33 degrees C than 37 degrees C. That's not cold! And because the research was in vitro - not in vivo - it shouldn't be presumed to apply in real, living human beings too.

A couple of years ago, a climatologist admitted that he'd lost a bet on whether the world's hottest year on record (1998) would be surpassed by 2012. Of course, he was wrong. Even though nine out of the hottest ten years have been in the last decade! But a new record has been set for the UK's hottest year, with 2014 setting an average of 9.9 degrees Celsius (including the winter, of course). Win or lose, however, such bets are facetious, because they say nothing about trends - whether the numbers are generally headed up or down. Climatologists - people who actually look at the climate to see what's happening - say climatic change still involves increasing global temperatures; whereas climate change obstructionist shills still find ways to obfuscate the facts. Such bets are ways of doing that.

According to Denmark's Climate and Energy Ministry, the country has set a new record for wind power production. Not as an absolute figure, but as a proportion of its output: 39.1%. "In January 2014 alone, power from wind made up 61.4 percent of electricity consumption." Ninety per cent of all wind turbines installed globally are manufactured in Denmark.

Researchers at the University of Coimbra, the University Institute of Lisbon, and the University of Lisbon, in Portugal, have developed a metamaterial structure that produces backward rainbows! Yes, i have a 'thing' for metamaterials :-D In a usual rainbow, the red end of the visible spectrum can be seen on the 'outside' because the red light is refracted less strongly. Bluer light has a shorter wavelength, which means it's refracted more strongly, and so it 'always' appears on the 'inside' of rainbows, whether appearing in the sky, or emerging from a prism. But metamaterials can fabricate negative refractive indices, which means everything works backwards... et voila, a backwards rainbow! Figure 3 clearly shows the red end on the inside, and the blue end on the outside.

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

'Mitch Benn - We're Still Gonna (Laugh At You) (The Now Show, 9th January 2015)' (my upload)

'Helen Arney - The Philae Song' (my upload)

'Superfast model glider reaches 640 kph'

'the doppler effect - applied physics: cardiology / echocardiography'

'Space Wood - Objectivity #1'
The first video of Brady's new channel, featuring Science-related objects. If you get nostalgic about old things that famous people touched, then you'll love this series.

'Charing Cross and Embankment Timeline'

'Spirit "Science" Tests More Spirit "Science"'
Hilarious! Oven gloves at the ready :-D

'Samson and Delilah (Samson Trilogy End)'

'Preserving Lonesome George Short Doc'

'Duke of York strenuously denies he had ten thousand men'
"Denying the claims a Buckingham Palace spokesman told us, “All allegations in this matter are false, and records will clearly show these men were neither up nor down.”"
{Prince Andrew's been in a bit of trouble, recently, for... allegedly... shagging around. This fortnight's Private Eye has the details, if you want them}

'David Cameron insists pre-election debates must include ‘a bake-off’'
The election isn't until May, and yet the Parties have already declared their 'campaigns' to be under way!

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

Word Of The Week: adulting -- verb; 'growing up' - the process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood e.g. "I felt myself adulting as my experiences that day wore in"

Etymology Of The Week: Xmas -- from the greek 'Khristos' for which the first letter is spellt with an 'X'

Number Of The Week: 39222 -- the number of people on Mexico's payroll of teachers, whom nobody at their schools could verify had actually ever turned up for work, nor even be recognised, according to a 2014 census analysis by the University of California.

Quote Of The Week: "I always think politicians are like nappies: they should be changed frequently... and for the same reason" - Barry Cryer

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

'Hubble sees an ancient globular cluster'

'The Baby-Faced Woman'

'Celebrating 30 years of success'

'Perused at the Gym'

'Hasbro to replace penis shaped Playdoh toy'

All i did was an innocuous search, to remind me of what Hasbro did, and it turned up this topical result. Hmmm....

'You say tomato'

'Aren't you forgetting something?'

The following material is of an 'adult' nature. If you're a child, then you'll find it hilarious, but won't understand it. If you've properly grown up, you'll find it hilarious, but shouldn't understand it. Either way, don't click on the links :-P

'Barry Cryer and Ronnie Golden - LIVE! actually (clip 2)'

'Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast - with Greg Davies'

'Fist Me This Christmas'

'Do You Take It?'

'Protecting and Maintaining Your Heterosexual House of Cards'

I've put this series last because it's a fantastic one to end on. It's not all knob jokes, like Kirby's other stuff though :-D

'Everything is a Remix'

'Everything Is A Remix: Kill Bill'

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