Sunday, 21 June 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 15-21/6/15

Hi water closets loos,

The 18th of June 2015 marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, which terminated the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleonic Empire.

In commemoration, here's Dan Snow's History Hit series, of the Battle Of Waterloo's most significant moments, published on the hour, almost exactly 200 years after they happened:

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 9.00 Napoleon's Army'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 9:00 The Allied Army'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 11:30 Hougoumont'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 13:00 D'Erlon Attacks'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 15.30 Ney Leads the Way'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 17:00 The Prussians in Plancenoit'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 19:30 La Garde Recule'

'Waterloo: As It Happens - 20.30 Napoleon Defeated'

In other news:

KFC's in the news again, this week. And again, as the victim of a 'my chicken isn't quite right' hoax. This time around, it's the claim that they 'accidentally' deep fried a rat - a story which, according to Snopes, dates to at least as far back as 1976. They also think that the narrative of the story was invented more duplicitously even than deceptively slandering KFC. In the original story, it's woman who buys the KFC, thereby symbolising the harm done when women concede their family role of cooking meals! Rats, of course, are subject to disgust humour, due to emotional associations with them - their flesh is no less sanitary than chickens'. And KFC is the only selected as the target, because it appeals more strongly, and to more people's fear instincts, by mentioning a particular company that lots of people have been to, than to say a small local restaurant, or to not mention a specific one at all.

{Incidentally, the rat-in-batter story makes me think of the human-ear-on-a-mouse story. Be honest - you probably thought it was a human ear on a mouse, too. That's certainly the way the Media orgs reported it, back in the 90s, when it was topical. In reality, of course, xenotransplants (transplants between different species) invoke strong immune reactions that would kill the host. It would have been much easier to do it the way they really did it. That mouse did not have a human ear on its back - it had a human ear shaped structure on its back, made of non-human cartilage cells. It wasn't human - it was mouse, with a superficial, humany appearance. For the same reasons, that mousey ear could not have been transplanted to a human without being attacked by that person's immune system}

Ebay earned the fury of 'magic' wielding charlatans, back in 2012, when it took measures to oppose the use of its services to sell fictional products - like ghosts, ghost-cures, haunted objects, etc. This year, it's Etsy that has taken steps to prevent the sale of products that don't exist - spells, hexes, and other witchcrafty nonsenses. The good reason for companies like ebay and Etsy to do this, is to avoid fraud. Just because someone believes the marketing jargon, that certain crystals, or crosses, or whatever, are going to protect them from evil, doesn't change the fact that the supernatural is 'super-' (beyond) natural. It's not real. So you can still sell and buy crystals on ebay and Etsy, just not by any claims of magical properties. Similarly, it's perfectly fine to sell sugar; just not slightly-damp sugar that you're pretending is medicine.

Ah, you crazy Americans, and your Faith Healers - it's not real Religion, i tell you! <s> For starters, this guy's not American - he's British. And this is real religion - he claims that by 'channelling' Paul of Tarsus (a fictional character in Christian mythology) he can and has cured various people of various medical conditions, including joint pain, infertility and heart conditions. The boundary between religion and quackery is a blurry one, as i've said before. Religionists have sculpted the Jesus myth deliberately to pseudo-validate their own behaviour: "If claiming to cure lepors, the lame, and the dead is good enough for him, then it's good enough for us". And to this day, true to form, religion continues to produce all kinds of rank quackery: from feeding people miraculously unhygienic sewer water, in India; to ridding children of demons by beating them to death, in Haiti; to saving witchcraft-affected men by poisoning them to death, in Zambia.

By the way, if you were hoping to jump the border, into the land of the free... Mexico... then you can rest easy, because there are no demons there any more. Yaaaaaayyyyyy! Thanks to Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Guadalajara, and Spanish priest and exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea, who absolutely and thoroughly exorcised the entire country last month, Mexico is now completely free of demons, spirits, violence, abortion, and probably Jews, Gays, and Atheists, too, because Catholic Christian Religionists seem to not like them very much either. So even though Mexico has been a veritable paradise for a month already (no need to factcheck - faithists never lie) it does seem the amount of religion there has stayed the same. Maybe just carry on as you were then :-D

Apparently, some ignorant, scientifically illiterate woman has done an article in a popular News-site, that contains dangerously unscientific medical advice. Anyone getting a feeling of déjà vu? This story is not someone catching up on my observation of incompetent journalism in The Times, two months ago, though. That was a completely different ignoramus, who advised cancer patients that fasting was better than chemotherapy, on the basis of her personal imbecility. This ignoramus is a different one - she wrote for the Huff Po (famed for its quackery bent) about "the miracle that cured [her] son's autism" which she claimed to have found in her kitchen. Guess what: the terms 'organic' and 'gluten free' were both involved. Complete bullshit! Oh, and neither this piece, nor the one i reported on were written in Science / Medicine sections - The Times' was 'Opinion' (and as i pointed out then, not written even slightly like an opinion) and this one was featured in the 'Living' section. I suppose you have to laugh. Right?

Good news, everyone! David Tredinnick - the geocentrism-believing Minister for Holland & Barrett - has lost his bid to become chair of the Health Select Committee in the UK's Parliament. If you want to know quite how disastrous it would have been for the magic-water-believing Tredinnick to have become chair of the Health Select Committee, then just read Steve Novella's article on him, replete with non-mined quotes. He is a complete goofball! Tredinnick, i mean - not Novella. He's only slightly goofy :-P

The magic water industry itself has been under the spotlight, in the USA, recently, with both the FDA and FTC investigating it for viability on the medicine markets. Essentially, damp sugar products will have to be labelled with embarrassing 'this product doesn't work' caveats, or even disallowed from sale, if justice is done through these organisations. But what's most interesting about the FDA's recent public hearing, as part of their ongoing review, has been the magic water industry's monolithised response to investigation. This is their biggest big chance to validate their quackery, remember. So what they came up with was: propaganda from non-Swiss homeopaths, pretending to be the Swiss Government, while ignoring the UK's competent review that compared it to witchcraft; claiming that giving empty ingredientless pills is safe (like not having lifesaving surgery is safe because you don't get cut); denying the validity and importance of evidence, because it shows that water-sprinkled sugar pills are not a form of medicine, and insisting that mistaken anecdotes must be perceived as superior, because homeopathic dogma says so; pretending that real Science and real Medicine are just ideologies, according to invalid 'my murder doesn't count because they're a murderer too' illogic; pretending that homeopaths are capable of 'regulating' homeopathy the way they've completely failed to in the past (which is intuitive, as quackery is for profit, not for health - they have no motive to regulate themselves out of profit); and persisting with the delusion that homeopathic magic water definitely works, even though reality always insists that it doesn't. That last point is tantamount to saying "it works because it does because it does because it does". They were there to present the best evidence they could, that homeopathy were valid, and all they provided was evidence of their abject failure to meet with the challenge. What better evidence does a layperson need, that homeopaths are charlatans? Conspiracy theory thinking is the only resort for a 'true believer' in homeopathetic superstition!

Side dominance is a common characteristic of animal species, as they tend to have two sides, with paired limbs along their bodies, and paired sensory organs too. In humans, 90% of people are right-side hand dominant, and majorities are leg, eye, ear, and nose right-side dominant too. But in kangaroos, it's the lefties that dominate. Especially in Eastern Grey and Red kangaroos. Side-dominance is useful when it comes to developing skill, because learning the same skill with both sides (and hence both sides of the brain) takes much longer than just getting good at something with one side. These kangaroos are known for learning manual dexterity, and so show more inclination to side dominance.

Baboons. Do they play 'follow the leader' the way 'right wing' humans insist humans should do, or do they all go their own ways like 'left wing' humans insist humans should do? Well, actually, because they live in quite large groups, of up to 100, and because lots of brains put together magnify total thinking power, baboons actually employ a more democratic style of decision making than their hierarchical social structure would suggest. GPS tracking has revealed that baboons will attempt to lead in different directions, but it's the numbers that win, and ultimately decide where the group goes.

You're probably already aware of white-nose syndrome, which is caused by a fungal infection, and affects millions of bats across North America. But you're less likely to have heard of the fungus that is killing large numbers of snakes, in similar areas. Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola (the snake fungus) and Pseudogymnoascus destructans (the bat fungus) thrive at different temperatures and in different humidity ranges, but they both affect large numbers of species by being only broadly similar: they occur in soil, grow on a wide variety of substances, and possess many of the same enzymes. The bat fungus affects bat species while they hibernate - demanding the bat's energy stores, to be fought off, and effectively starving their host; while the snake fungus eats away at their keratin scales, with a mortality frequency thought to be 100%. The only way these fungusses survive, when they kill their vertebrate hosts so effectively, is by the fact that they evolved to survive in soil - the bats and snakes are probably unintentional victims.

Can you work out what this picture is, and where it came from? Can't manage both? Well, read the article, and you'll find out. The core of the answer involves ANNs - Artificial Neural Networks - that rote learn, in a way more similar to human brains, what thinsg look like, and can then be used to reproduce images of what their aggregated understandings of those objects says the answer should be. To see a big picture, on my tumblr, and to find the links to the article, follow this link:

Want to see a shockwave propagating through diamond? Then click this link. Researchers have used ultra-short pulses of X-rays to film shock waves in diamonds - a technique that enables researchers to follow the rapid, dynamic changes taking place. I don't care what future technology might be made possible by this - it's just fantastic on its own :-D

Never mind. The onset of the rainy season around Japan seems set to postpone Solar Impulse 2's voyage to Hawaii. The pilots are prepared to wait for up to 2 months, for a 'weather window', but if they don't get one then, then they might have to wait until next Spring.

SI2 hasn't left Japan yet, but another solar-powered craft has arrived... again... Philae is back up and running. As expected, the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has rotated and turned Philae's solar panels to the light of the distant Sun. It had already sent back multiple years' worth of data, but planning is now underway to make the most of what might happen next - before 67P/C-G heats up, or anything else goes wrong.

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

'How to catch a swarm of bees!'

'Can of Coke in Liquid Nitrogen - Periodic Table of Videos'

'Why the UK Election Results are the Worst in History'

'Deadly Truth of General AI - Computerphile'

'What Does Your Birthday Say About You? The Seasonal Birth Effect'
Causations don't necessarily have to take effect in the womb. Myopia (short-sightedness) is associated with an indoorsy lifestyle, so sportyness is observed to be inversely proportional to myopia. Kids born in September are bigger at school, and so superior on the sports field, so they play more and are less likely to be short-sighted. No need for genetic or intra-womb effects at all.

'Shelf Life Episode 8 - Voyage of the Giant Squid'

'Tropical Storm Bill from the International Space Station'

'NASA image: Wheat fires outside of Huaibei, China'

'STS-7 launches through the clouds'

'Cassini zooms past Dione'

'New Horizons'

'Parallel Consumerverse : If Takeaway Was Ikea | The Checkout'

'The Catch : Uniqlo Baby Leggings | The Checkout'

'As A Guilty Mum : Parties | The Checkout'

'In Retreatment | The Checkout'

'Signs Of The Time Series 3 Episode 11 | The Checkout'


'Only in New York (Music Video) {The Kloons}'

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

Word Of The Week: intensiny -- "it's when you're so intense that your knees start to hurt... it's crazier than intensity... in the first hour or two, my intensiny is super high, and then it turns down to intensity" ;-)

Scary Article Title Of The Week: 'BBC explores mind control over TV program choice'

Quote Of The Week: "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires" - att. John Steinbeck, maybe as a paraphrase

Tredinnick Quote Of The Week: "I am talking about a long-standing discipline-an art and a science-that has been with us since ancient Egyptian, Roman, Babylonian and Assyrian times. It is part of the Chinese, Muslim and Hindu cultures. Criticism is deeply offensive to those cultures, and I have a Muslim college in my constituency." - speaking on astrological superstition, and then apparently invoking the murderous tendencies of Muslims to 'encourage' the acceptance of pseudomedical fraud into healthcare.

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

'Cyriak | Heroes of Animation with Bing'

'Er...Sovngarde Awaits'
Best gamefail of 2012. Deserved :-D

As mentioned on last week's RHLSTP (RHLSTP) here's that Minecraft-based sit-com. It's actually rather good :-D

'Maximum Whimsy - Ep 1 - Pedestrianize'

'Maximum Whimsy - Ep 2 - Funny'

'Maximum Whimsy - Ep 3 - Identity'

No comments:

Post a Comment