Sunday, 10 May 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 4-10/5/15

Hi beaners and 'barbers,

From the last issue of the SGU:

'Pseudoscience or Fiction'

Instead of the usual quiz, where you have to work out which two are science, and which one is fiction, in this rendition, you have to work out which is the fake fake, amongst the real fakes. Understand?

To clarify: a pseudoscience is a superstition dressed up to look like science, and so is not science. Two of these pseudosciences are non-sciences purported to be sciences, whereas the other is a non-science that is not purported to be a science, and so is a fake pseudoscience - a pseudoscience that although not not fake, is not truly purported as a science.


Anyway, i thought it was fun, and i thought you might like to share in it, if you don't listen to the SGU. So here are the options:

#1: The Bates Vision Correction System claims to correct vision by staring in particular compass directions, aligning the eyes with the Earth's magnetic field.
#2: Dr. Randell Mills claims that he has a process to make hydrogen atoms shrink into "hydrinos," providing a source of free energy.
#3: The "New Chronology" claims that events attributed to ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian culture actually occurred in the Middle Ages and that recorded human history began around 800 AD.

Which is the fake fake? That the Bates Vision Correction System is a real thing; that Randell Mills really claims that; or that there's a purported 'New Chronology'?

The correct answer is at the bottom of the page...

So, the UK's General Election has gone, and this man, perhaps sadly, did not win it. I do think there should, just occasionally, be a genuine human being as Prime Minister of the UK. But maybe that's asking too much :-D

'Ed Miliband being amazingly human on Absolute Radio'

Ed Milibean (as he's depicted in Private Eye) has taken a lot of ad hominem pseudo-criticism for his appearance, his voice, and the way he eats sandwiches, over the last five years.

And, to be honest, i'd expect nothing less puerile from the conservative-with-a-lower-case-c types who've issued it. Defence of him, however, has been lacking.

I posited, quite a while ago now, that that might be due to a kind of non-stereotype withdrawal process.

We all expect pollies to be airbrushed Thunderbird doll-like cartoon characters, who talk the talk (of some other language, most of the time), and walk the walk (toward the lectern, to prattle at us), and grin the grin whenever and wherever they are.

But Ed Miliband's different. He isn't a blow-up doll. He doesn't have pretentions of authority. He doesn't have a trained smile that he can whip out at any time, just to look photogenic, even if it is 6 o'clock and he's on some dull morning TV talkshow.

And that makes him different, in an ocean of airbrushed Party drones. Oh, he has the hands and the suit, and the TV people put makeup on everyone, but he's nowhere near 'a finished job'.

Hence the withdrawal symptoms. We all expect him to be polished, and... well, drearily trite. Just like the rest. So that we can mock him for it. But we can't. We have to mock him for something else. For being genuinely like the rest of us!

I remember a documentary - i think maybe for Spitting Image - where someone remarked on the nature of satirising nice people.

If you're being satirised for how you look, then that's actually a good thing, because it means you're not being satirised for what you do.

If you're being satirised for what you do, then the satire is calling your moral character into question, and that is much much worse.

So farewell, Ed. And we can only cross our fingers that there might be another like you, somewhere amongst the ever-rising hordes.

'respecting beliefs' - theramin trees

Yet another masterpiece. He goes fast, though, so the pause icon might come in handy :-)

Don't be distracted by the way he uses religion as the test subject. Religion isn't peculiar - everything he says is applicable much more broadly than you might think.

There's a big difference between respecting people and respecting beliefs. It's often necessary to disrespect beliefs, in order to show due respect to people.

'Red Dwarf Series XI and XII Announced!'

This is Bobby Llew's own post on it. I know i mentioned it last week, way back when it was topical :-P

In other news:

A Federal Appeals Court has ruled the NSA's activities - regarding all USA citizens' cell phone communications as 'open access' - to be illegal, as it is not authorised by the legislation that its creators cited to implement it: Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. It hasn't yet been ruled, however, on whether any other part of the USA's Constitution could rule it lawful, so the NSA should effectively expire on the 1st of June, unless Congress finds some loophole to excuse its perpetuation.

Bears walking like that isn't new; so here's something genuinely crazy - fake 'cancer updates' pretending to be from John Hopkins Hospital. Which doesn't exist. There's a University and a Medical Centre, but no JH Hospital.

A diabetic child has died at 7 years old, while on the table of a slapping quack. That isn't an obscure British idiom, like stonking/corking - "the guy's a bally quack, old man" - it's an actual thing that actual quacks actually do. Now, we should be clear that the slapping in question likely didn't cause the death of the child, but given that their guardian was an I-SCAM industry sympathiser (and they must have been, or the kid wouldn't have been in the abuser's hands), it seems plausible that they neglected proper care for diabetes in preference for an ineffective pseudoscience, and thus killed their child through neglect. It is precedented. The pseudoscience of the non-therapy is that slapping until bruises form is somehow corrective the non-existent 'qi' that doesn't run through the body, and can't do anything. For a lot of guesses, it sure can be costly.

You might have seen trailers for the latest Sup-Fi (superstition-fiction) movie - The Enfield Haunting - starring Timothy Spall as the one who's 'wrong'. Well, as if the movie didn't promise to be bad enough, it seems they've been lying for publicity, too. Poltergeist / Exorcist / Amityville have all played this trick too. A bit pathetic really, isn't it. But i suppose the kinds of people who are likely to be inspired to see the film, are also likely to believe there's verity to bullshit 'real' ghost stories.

A study of the memetic diversity in popular music, over the last half century, has found that: the so-called "British Invasion" of US pop music by groups such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, did not start a rock revolution, but only followed existing trends; the greatest musical revolution in US pop history was actually in 1991, when hip-hop became pop; 1986 was the least-diverse year for music, maybe due to the introduction of drum machines; and there is no evidence of homogenisation in music, in the 21st century. The researchers studied lyric diversity, chord-progression patterns, and changes in musical tones, to develop an objective metric for evaluating changes in music over the last 50 years. of course, there's plenty of room for subjectivising the analysis, and thereby undermining its worth, but it's better than entirely-subjective intuition.

Heard that story about researchers finding feacal matter in men's beards? Well, it was shit all the way through. Literally. Not literally. Metaphorically. There was no poo; there was no research; there were no researchers; and there was no integrity in the minds of those who sold the story. The non-research was conducted by some guys doing a thing for a TV show, in which they found bacteria. Just bacteria. Bacteria live everywhere, and most of them are benign or symbiotic with other (eukaryotic) organisms. The fact that some of the bacteria found by the non-researchers are also found in the gut, doesn't mean those men ever had poo in their beards!

This story's especially appealling to anyone, like me, who has a preset loathing for Intellectual Property law. Personal Audio LLC - a Texas-based company - has received a slap in the face from the US Patent Office, having been told that they have no legal claim to patents on podcasts. The actual patent was for repeating publications of audio content... which is as vague as anything can possibly be. But large companies have departments devoted to buying up IP (Intellectual Property) on things like this, and there are whole companies set up specifically to patent/copyright things that simply shouldn't be IPed, including a myriad of things that do not yet exist, nor might they ever exist. IP law crushes creativity and development, by denying people from using others' technology, so they can't build anything with it, or experiment with it. These 'patent trolls', unlike internet trolls, are not doing it for the lulz - they are genuinely malevolent organisations, seeking to suppress creative progress for the sake of profit. They are the worst kinds of entrepreneurs, ans should be stopped.

But here's a properly interesting technological development. Well, as long it's not the joke that it appears to be - miniaturised qwerty keyboards for bendy wearable hardware! The developers are experimenting with screen sizes between 16 and 32mm square, and the keyboard is used by pressing a finger against it, rolling your finger towards the desired letter if it isn't highlighted, and then releasing your finger to select the letter. It could just work, LOL. Click here to see a video of the thing being used.

Compiling a 'dentist's handbook' for penis worms. Possibly one of the scariest article titles a man can read. But don't worry, chaps - they're not called 'penis worms' for that reason! They're called penis worms because they're penis shaped, with a kind of foreskin-like oral structure, that is... lined with teeth! Vagina dentata might be a thing of nightmares, but penisia dentata is a thing of reality. Penis worms lived in the Cambrian era, 500 million years ago, and would invert their mouths, to use their teeth to drag them around. In a world of soft-bodied organisms, teeth greatly increased the likelihood of the tiny beasts' existence being made evident. It was those soft-bodied organisms that the penis worms would prey on. Using SEMs (Scanning Electron Microscopes) to study the teeth has provided palaeontologists with the ability to distinguish teeth from other hard bodies, and to identify differences in species around the world, and to better work out the diversity in those charismatically scary animals. Oh, and just in case your fear of them was waning - they still exist, today! But because the contemporary environments of the world are so different, they generally only live in the more extreme underwater environments. So sleep well :-P

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

'The Real Reality Show: How the Sun Will Die'

'Chernobyl New Safe Confinement (NSC) 2015 - "Арка" shelter of Reactor 4'

'Optical Illusions - Objectivity #18'

'The New Yellow - Periodic Table of Videos'

'DIY 3 Phase Motor'

'Deep Freeze Crush Test-Apple'

'BMW i8 | Fully Charged'

I hope he didn't let the Cat in that nice clean car ;-)

‘Cherax (Astaconephrops) pulcher, a new species of freshwater crayfish’

'Solar Dynamics Observatory sees 'Cinco de Mayo' solar flare'

'Image: SOHO captures bright filament eruption'

'MESSENGER reveals Mercury's magnetic field secrets'

'Look, Dobbin - it's got an astrolabe!'

'Consumer Dictionary : Natural | The Checkout'

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

Word Of The Week: vainglorious -- filled with excessive elation or pride over one's own achievements, abilities; boastful vanity.

Etymology Of The Week: smegma -- meaning 'the cheesey-smelling pus-like deposits that can be found around the genitals of humans; comes from the greek 'smegma' meaning 'soap' and originally from the verb 'smekhein' meaning 'to wipe/cleanse'

Red Dwarf Etymology Of The Week: Smeghead -- derived from the word 'head' meaning the cephallic structure at the top of most vertebrate animals; and the word 'smeg', see above :-P

Quote Of The Week: "Biographical history, as taught in our public schools, is still largely a history of boneheads: ridiculous kings and queens, paranoid political leaders, compulsive voyagers, ignorant generals, the flotsam and jetsam of historical currents. The men who radically altered history, the great creative scientists and mathematicians, are seldom mentioned, if at all." - Martin Gardner, mathematician and writer (1914-2010)

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

'The Rhubarb Tart Song'
I love this song so much :-D

{The song was first sung on ISIRTA (I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again) in 1966, and was then realeased on a 45" in 1967}

'That YouGov parlour game is wrong. This annoys me.'
Yeah, you tell 'em, Ben. The game makes so much more sense, like that, too.

'Bill Gates counts to ten'

'Polos opuestos' (Poles Apart)
"Look at those teenagers, wearing their trousers like a couple of idiots"

'4 y ½'

Pareidolia x2:

'Cráter Galle (o happy face) en Marte'

'Freaking News: La mejor sombra del mundo es argentina'

Some 18th century news, for your delight...

Hereford man loses cow and wife in two days:

Affairs beyond the Peerage set to provide addition:

Scientist desires equipment to study atmosphere at various heights:

The production standards are low. But the comedy standards are good :-D

'Annoying PPI Adverts'

'In My Tum'

It's not a sandwich shop, LOL.

'It's a Bin'

'Traffic Jams'

'I've got a Green Cacti - Sing It!'
Random :-D

'Umbrella Time - Get your brolly out! - Great British Weather'

'Middle Lane Drivers - Keep left plonkers!'

The answer to ''Pseudoscience or Fiction':

#1: (fiction) The Bates Vision Correction System claims to correct vision by staring in particular compass directions, aligning the eyes with the Earth's magnetic field.
#2: (pseudoscience) Dr. Randell Mills claims that he has a process to make hydrogen atoms shrink into "hydrinos," providing a source of free energy.
#3: (pseudoscience) The "New Chronology" claims that events attributed to ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian culture actually occurred in the Middle Ages and that recorded human history began around 800 AD.

There are plenty of quack non-ways to improve your vision, but as of now, none that involve compass directions. Staring into the Sun, yes; staring into the magnetic Poles, no!

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