Sunday, 31 May 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 25-31/5/15


Hello chocolateers,


Have you heard of the latest spookyness meme? It's called the Charlie Charlie Challenge, and it's as old as the hills.

It doesn't demonstrate the existence of 'spirits' or whatever you might imagine - all it demonstrates is that people can perceive whatever they like, when they have a superstitious motive to, or are mimicking other people, whom they presume to have a superstitious belief.

To see how easy it is to get the same results, watch Kenneth Biddle's video, embedded into the link above. Or click here.


The latest hysteria-inducing evil-goodness meme, that all the Media orgs seem to be passing around, is the realisation that some 'charities' aren't anywhere near as charitable as they'd like you to think.

Just because something's registered as a charity, doesn't mean it genuinely does good in the world.

I think one of the surest signs of charity fakery is their enthusiasm to get money out of us. My address receives plenty of scam mail from fake charities like the 'Missionaries of Charity' (Mother Theresa's sadomasochistic cult), 'Feed My People' (a similar organisation employing Gandhi's visage), 'Christian Aid' (whose propaganda exhorts prayer as a cure for the world's ills), 'Help for Heroes' (that exists purely to undermine the funding of the British Legion), and numerous private sector medical companies, trying to sell pointless medical screening tests, insurances, etc.

I find that the most malevolent 'charities' are the ones that put most effort into getting money out of people, and therefore least money into actually doing the actual charity work - sending gifts, parceling huge amounts of glossy paperwork, and even posting ghastly crucifixes, is not charity!

Here's a picture of a small collection of paper spam, posted to my address, over the last few years. It's nothing compared to what some people receive!

‘Fake-Charity Scam Mail’
http://tapejarascience.tumblr.com/private/120340422185/tumblr_np7ljbLhCE1rdco3z

These businesses should not be considered charities, because they do what they do as entrepreneurs - they've realised that by pretending to be charities (especially by mimicking the names of genuine charities) they can extort money from the subjects of their propaganda.

There's a reason doorstep selling is illegal in many countries - many people are made vulnerable by how easily they're persuaded. But they're just as vulnerable to paper entreatments as to doorstep entreatments.

It's important to remember that there are real charities out there - instead of 'Missionaries of Charity', there's a 'Responsible Charity'; instead of 'Christian Aid' there's a 'Medecins Sans Frontieres'; instead of marketing from private medical companies, there's the advice of Science Based Medicine blogs.

Unfortunately, this is yet another example of life being hard - we have to research charities before we can know how reputable they are. Glossy pages and kitemarks just don't cut it.

So stay skeptical, people. Stay skeptical.


In other news:

Google seems to have had its first major failure, in attempting to design its search algorithms to give correct answers to questions. Rather embarrassingly, the term "what happened to the dinosaurs" presents a retort from Answersingenesis.org, 'explaining' that dinosaurs are tools to indoctrinate people into Science! Here's my screencap, from this morning.
http://doubtfulnews.com/2015/05/what-happened-to-the-dinosaurs-they-are-used-to-indoctrinate-children/

There's been yet another diet fad story, pinging around the world of churnalism, this fortnight, but this time with a difference. Obviously, it's all bullshit, as the only dietary advice you need is: "eat a healthy, balanced diet; and match your calorie intake to how much you exercise". But this bullshit fad is apparently OK, because it's an ironic dangerous, pseudoscientific diet fad. Oh, how i'm laughing. My sides, i think they're going to split! <s> Hmmm... The perpetrator was a journalist with a PhD in the molecular biology of bacteria, who thought it would be well fun lol, to find out how easily bullshit spreads around the world of bad-journalism. "German Cosmo, Britain’s Daily Star, the Irish Examiner, the Times of India, Texas-based outlet KTRE, and a number of other media sources" took the story up, as it sounded all cuddly and nice, but controversial and science-shaming, and so exactly the kind of thing they wanted to sell to their markets, but... was it really necessary to make up yet another bullshit story, when there are so many that we already know are baseless, in a world of bullshit that produces its own of its own accord?!? Sorry to smack them down for doing what they thought was a good job, but it was actually entirely unnecessary for them to exacerbate the problem while investigating it. They didn't find anything new, and haven't changed a thing. Except the reputation of scientists, in the popular press, as people who skip ethics standards for the sake of their research desires. Can you tell that i'm not happy with them? LOL. Even though the article hasn't been officially retracted, it does seem to have gone mysteriously missing. That's still not good Science though - it should have been pushed, not left to jump.
http://now.snopes.com/2015/05/28/journalist-details-chocolate-weight-loss-media-hoax/

The Chinese State has publicly crushed 660 Kg of ivory, as part of their attempts to stigmatise the possession of ivory products. The majority of demand, in the country, actually comes from the desire for social status, achieved through possession of ornate ivory decorations - not from the superstitious belief that ivory is medicinal. Both, of course, are big problems. By publicly destroying ivory products, the hope is to disassociate it from aspiration, and undermine the demand that has seen the Chinese government order hundreds of tonnes of ivory for importation from African countries, in attempts to suppress ivory prices. Owning cheap things is not a status symbol, you see. China's first public destruction of ivory was last year, when they destroyed 6 tonnes of it.
http://phys.org/news/2015-05-china-tonne-ivory-gesture.html

Shark fins aren't necessarily purchased for pseudo-medical purposes either, but their trade is still rightfully illegal in Ecuador, where 200,000 fins have been seized across several operations, which have resulted in the arrest of only three suspected traffickers. I wonder whether they're really that few in number, or just illusive!? Given that it's true that 98% of homicides in Mexico go unsolved, i wouldn't be surprised if there were many more traffickers disappearing under similar circumstances. It seems quite plausible.
http://phys.org/news/2015-05-ecuador-seizes-shark-fins.html

In contrast, the recently re-elected Conservative government is quite enthusiastic about animal abuse. Despite dropping the abolition of Human Rights from the Queen's Speech (not written by her), and the advocation of the Snooper's Charter, which mandates activity recently declared illegal in the USA, David Cameron and his cretins are all thumbs-up to the bloodsport of tearing foxes apart for fun! Lovely people, aren't they. <s>
http://phys.org/news/2015-05-english-foxes-safe-cameron.html

Researchers have found that budgies yawn in mimicry, just like primates and some other mammal species have been shown to. It should be remembered that budgies and parrots are well known for mimicry, and so it's not entirely surprising that they've learned to mimic yawning movements. It should also be remembered that mimicry doesn't have to be the only mechanism to prompt yawning - humans are thought to yawn when their forebrains warm up, and to signify tiredness to their peers. These hypotheses can be true too, in combination with the mimicry hypothesis, but it doesn't mean budgies yawn for tiredness-communication purposes like humans do... if humans do.
http://phys.org/news/2015-05-birds-mammals.html

Another Quantum Physics experiment; another successful replication of Wheeler's delayed-choice experiment; and another calamitous misinterpretation of the results presented to the audience! Gah. Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) trapped a collection of helium atoms in a suspended state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, and then ejected them until there was only a single atom left. A system of light gratings was used to introduce constructive or destructive interference, as if the atom had travelled both paths. Contrary to the article, what this experiment does not show, is that "reality does not exist until it is measured". It actually shows that superposition means the possession of multiple states/conditions, until a particular state is decided upon, later. The metaphorical cat (helium atoms) is alive and dead, until it's alive or dead. The reality is that, whether constructive or destructive interference has been introduced, or none at all, the 'cat' remains both alive and dead, until a 'choice' is made, and then and only then does the system collapse into 'alive' or 'dead'. This is what produces the illusion of an action affecting the past. You can never actually see the cat being both alive and dead, without introducing some medium (light, electrons, neutrinos, whatever) that causes the system to decide on an outcome, and so the 'choice' or 'observation' does actually involve physical tampering with the system. So sorry, Chopra-lovers, there's not actually any room for mushy 'everything and nothing is true' bullshit in Quantum Physics :-P
http://phys.org/news/2015-05-quantum-theory-weirdness.html

Solar Impulse 2 is currently on its way from Nanjing to Hawaii - the longest leg of its perilous journey, powered only by sunlight. It took off yesterday, and will reach Hawaii midweek. If you're quick enough, the link leads to a livestream of the flight. It's certainly got the drying paint stream licked :-D
http://www.solarimpulse.com/leg-7-from-Nanjing-to-Hawaii

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

'Pythagoras Cup (Greedy Cup) filled with Mercury'
https://youtu.be/ISfIT3B4y6E

'the highly radioactive kindergarten laboratory of Pripyat'
https://youtu.be/krS4q1bCmH4

'Eucalyptus Leaves'
https://youtu.be/mMiIiCMSzkY

'Franklin's Kite Experiment - Objectivity #21'
https://youtu.be/YcNs8Yn6Cjk

'Image: Giant filaments on the face of the sun say "keep right"'
http://phys.org/news/2015-05-image-giant-filaments-sun.html

'Dawn spirals closer to Ceres, returns a new view'
http://phys.org/news/2015-05-dawn-spirals-closer-ceres-view.html

'Cassini prepares for last up-close look at Hyperion'
http://phys.org/news/2015-05-cassini-up-close-hyperion.html

'Image: Europa's Jupiter-facing hemisphere'

http://phys.org/news/2015-05-image-europa-jupiter-facing-hemisphere.html

'The Checkout - Season 3 Episode 5'
https://youtu.be/mRLJ75gXfKg

{Episode 6 was just a compilation of old skits}

'The Checkout - Season 3 Episode 7'
https://youtu.be/0xPRg5xn7uU

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

Word Of The Week: maultasche -- a foodstuff consisting of a pasta dough, wrapped around a mixture of meat/veg; much like ravioli but bigger and tastier; its name comes from 'maul' (mouth) and 'tasche' (bag) which either means 'foodbag' as an allusion to its shape and contents, or from the archaic word 'maultatschen' which means 'a slap in the face', perhaps as a different allusion to its appearance - similar to a cheek that's been slapped (with the colour of the food showing through the pale pasta dough). A nickname for maultasche (maultaschen in plural) is 'Herrgottsbeschei├čerle', which translates as 'God's little bullshitters' due to the supposed origin of the dish being to hide the contents from the gods of Christianity - the prevalent Religion in Swabia (in modern-day Baden-W├╝rttemberg) at the time, where meat was forbidden/discouraged during the Lent antifestival. Because maultaschen can conceal meaty contents, they were considered apt for this cheeky, covert operation.

Expression Of The Week: 'at bay' -- meaning 'held back'; comes from hunting, in which dogs would be held 'at bay' where 'bay' means 'barking, making noise' in the sense of 'baying'

Quote Of The Week: "A democratic society, an open society, places an extraordinary intellectual responsibility on ordinary men and women because we are governed by what we think, we are governed by our opinions, so the content of our opinions and the quality of our opinions and the quality of the formation of our opinions basically determines the character of our society. That means in a democracy, in an open society, a thoughtless citizen of a democracy is a delinquent citizen of a democracy" - Leon Wieseltier

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

I notice that that livestream of paint drying has actually been updated to a livestream of grass growing. Stuff that for a laugh! Surely there's an easier to way to get into the world of growing grass? Ah, i see there's a YouTuber who's made exactly the right video for me. Well, let's get stuck in then, shall we...

'Nerd³'s Hell... Grass Simulator'
https://youtu.be/cCXmmrVnpSI

'Nerd³'s Hell... Mining & Tunneling "Simulator"'
FYI: Squirrel played this and it didn't suck this hard :-D
https://youtu.be/jCpJAy2MFdE

'Nerd³ Plays... I am Bread'
https://youtu.be/bCos0eA0P44

'Nerd³'s Mother and Son-Days - GTA Online'
https://youtu.be/ftmsuoTjE_c

'Nerd³'s Father and Son-Days - Uncharted 3'
https://youtu.be/CuJA4zhtjgI

'Nerd³ Plays... Harry Potter for Kinect'
https://youtu.be/GoOGw5D7Y34

'Nerd³ Plays... Star Trek: The Awful Videogame'
https://youtu.be/J89Q_U7hb94

'Nerd³ Plays... Surgeon Simulator 2013 IN SPACE!'
https://youtu.be/JBKwrb3NLgE

'Nerd³'s Father and Son-Days - GeoGuessr'
https://geoguessr.com/
https://youtu.be/i1C-88bPi8U

'Nerd³ Challenges! Double or Nothing! - Google Feud'
https://youtu.be/li7wlZqiOq0

'Nerd³ Challenges! Carmageddon AND Tsunami! - GTA IV'
https://youtu.be/uWBQ2e4O3Cg

'Best (Glitch) In The World'
https://youtu.be/FyOrHelNvy0

'Nerd³ Plays... Ryse: Son of Rome'
https://youtu.be/j0u0kNKi8mw

'Nerd³ Plays... Lost Marbles'https://youtu.be/mUOF9o8GqOs

'Nerd³ Plays... Tony Hawk's Underground'
I hope it's not only through my eyes that "Hawk's" looks like it's got too few 's's :-D
https://youtu.be/sDumiYl19mQ

'Nerd³ Challenges! Fire a Bus into Space! - OMSI 2'

https://youtu.be/jwIPQXR1GHg

'Nerd³'s Poop Games of 2014 Awards'
https://youtu.be/tTHzLn3dTnQ

'Nerd³ Mods... GTA V - The God Mod'
https://youtu.be/EDg527J0Td8

'Nerd³ 101 - Jazzpunk'
https://youtu.be/WqYU9ZnJVP0

'Nerd³'s Father and Son-Days - Mount Your Friends'
Best. Game. Everrrrr :-D
https://youtu.be/sT41mvT4PIs
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