Sunday, 14 June 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 8-14/6/15

Hi neutrally clairvoyant gamers,

The less-bizarre-than-it-first-seems news of the week, this week, is that an agency employed by a Dutch government department to provide employee insurance, has paid for a course in 'clairvoyance'.

'Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) pays for courses in clairvoyance'

This wasn't by government decree - the thought your mind might have jumped to - but it was using government money, as the department that they are contracted to is the 'Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment'. This means that what they have done, is to use State funding to push their unemployed clients into fraudulent careers - as 'spiritual phone consultants'.

The agency - UWV- doesn't see anything wrong with this, of course, because, well, they simply don't care. This is a situation paralleled in other private sector employment agencies, where they don't care how criminal their clients are, as long as taking money from them doesn't mar the agency's 'image'.

Workfare companies in the UK are perfectly happy to engage with cold-calling companies; and job websites will take money from ads for quacks. I have sent emails to such websites in the past, and they only return glib 'thank you for your feedback' responses. As long as there are no major repercussions, they won't stop - they have insufficient motive to arrest their own desire for 'meeting targets' and profiting from other people's misfortune - their lack of employment.

It might seem bizarre, at first, that a company would do this, but it's not actually that implausible.

YouTube (Google) seems set to shift all gaming to a separate site, where Gamers can Game their Games in a Gaming environment, where they need never see the light of day again.

'YouTube to launch app, site dedicated to gaming'

Hmm... I don't see how this is really going to help the world of Gaming as it currently exists, on YouTube - it can only create a compartment of exclusion.

The wonderful thing about YT, historically, has been that you see anything and everything of the world of people-at-home-making-videos. That's the best use of the world wide web - to see the world, unblinkered by prior enthusiasms and prejudices.

Way back when the millennium was young, YT used to be about content - if something contained important information, for example, it could actually make it onto the front page. Nowadays, it's cheap 'pop' (pseudo)science, music adverts, girls doing facepaint, and people playing computer games while they talk over them, that we get 'recommended' to us (or each other, if you're a 'content creator' too). Because those genres are easy to make, and subject to low expectations, they dominate the content, and so interesting stuff is more difficult to find.

Perhaps the only advantage to this segregation of Gaming, would be the net benefit to other genres. With YT's algorithms not always putting long and frequent Gaming videos to the top of the pile, other videos would have to get there, in their place.

In that case, YouTube, please segregate the 'beauty' genre too. Please. Pretty please? :-D

Two years late, the Linear Media have discovered that, of the thousand-or-so people to have discovered exoplanets, one of them is was quite young. They were 15, and are now 17, now that their sighting, while doing Work Experience at a University, has been properly verified by other, much older humans.

But then, people putting in lots of work to do the hard graft of evidence-collecting is boring, so of course they're going to go with the 'pretty young thing finds planet' narrative, aren't they. Because that's neither ageist nor derivative :-P

'Work-experience schoolboy discovers a new planet'

Remember Dreadnoughtus? [sighs with nostalgia for the pre-mammal days] It's the sauropod that was mentioned here, in September last year, for being the biggest accurately-estimated dinosaur ever.

As i said back then, Amphicoelias fragillimus holds the biggest estimates for size and weight - at 60 metres and 100 tonnes - but also for the biggest uncertainty in size and weight. Dreadnoughtus schrani was declared to be 26 metres long, and weigh 59 tonnes, with substantial certainty, but some paleontologists have recently revised those estimates.

'Scientists downsize the giant 'Dreadnoughtus' dinosaur'

It was still 26 metres long, they think, but it would have weighed just 40 tonnes - not 59. That's still more than either Diplodocus (15) or Brachiosaurus (34) though.

So, Net Neutrality is in, in the USA. Good for USAians then. But (most) Europeans get to gloat that their good-old EU sorted Net Neutrality more than a year ago :-P

'Q & A: The Effect of Net Neutrality'

A study by a Dutch researcher, into the floods around the Netherlands, between 1500 and 2000 CE, has found that a third of floods in that period were deliberately perpetrated by humans, as part of military activity.

'Floods as war weapons: Humans caused a third of floods in past 500 years in southwest Netherlands'

In those 500 years, 21 were caused by storm surges, and 11 by militants attempting to gain a tactical advantage over other militants - mostly the Dutch against the Spanish, in the Eighty Years War (mostly a rebellion against the Spanish Empire). This caused the low-lying land to be salinated by seawater, affecting agriculture, and also compromising sanitation, as is the case with floods around the world today.

But human activity also increased the harm of non-military floods. Storm surges were not protected against, by developing the dykes that hold back waters in the Netherlands to this day, and so the hazard of non-humanmade floods was made greater.

Saturn's outer ring, it seems, reaches much further out than was previously realised.

'Saturn's outer ring much bigger than thought'

The Phoebe Ring - so-called because the moon 'Phoebe' is believed to be the primary source of the ring's material - was first positively identified in 2009, by researchers using the Spitzer Space Telescope, which sees in Infra-Red.

Back then, this faint ring of dust was estimated to stretch to 200 times the radius of Saturn itself. Now, that estimate has been increased to 270 times Saturn's radius. That means the Phoebe Ring has an inside edge 6 million km from Saturn, and an outside edge 16 million km from it!

The dusty particles of the Phoebe Ring are only visible in IR, because they are almost all tiny, micron-sized particles, with a much smaller number in the tennis-ball to soccer-ball size range.

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

'The Science of Jet Lag... And How To Prevent It'

'Why 82,000 is an extraordinary number - Numberphile'

'How Low Can You Orbit?'

'Thunderf00t Vs 20 000 VIRGINS! (trailer)'

'Image: Sampit, Indonesia imaged by Sentinel-1A's radar'

'Image: Smoke from Canadian wildfires drifts down to US'

'Image: Tethys the target'

'Image: Soyuz TMA-15M docked at the International Space Station'
This might be one of the last images you see of this craft, before it's retired by crash-landing onto the Kazakh steppe

'Fly over Ceres in new video'

'Beautiful Mineral Stones'

'Insect Mosaic'
{This photo's from the 'Mosaics' gallery, by Christopher Marley}

'The Greatest Passenger in OMSI 2'
Before you ask: he's 16. That's probably why he doesn't recognise Mr Bean :-P

'Bec Hill translates "Non Je Ne Regrette Rien" (Edith Piaf)'

'Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast with Bob Mortimer'

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

Word Of The Week: vaccilation -- indecision; wavering; inability to choose an option or action

Etymology Of The Week: smitten -- as in 'smitten with love' (1660s); is the past tense of 'smite' meaning 'to strike/hit' (12th century) formerly 'to pollute/defile' (pre-12th c). This origin makes more sense when you consider that, historically, love has been seen as a bad thing - as a disease - because of the way it disturbs people's minds and makes them behave oddly; hence the expression 'lovesick', and also the expression 'falling in love'. Falling is generally employed as a metaphor for something bad e.g. falling to hell, rising to heaven, a fall from grace, a triumphal ascendance, a decline into poverty, a raise in your wages; etc.

Amusing-to-the-childish Fact Of The Week: There is a Saint Homobonus. In life, he was neither a gay pornstar, nor even a homo (probably), nor for that matter, a bonus. All he actually did was live off the wealth inherited from his father. He ate Jesus every day, and for that he was made the patron saint of business people, tailors, shoemakers, clothworkers, and Cremona, where he lived. His name comes from the latin 'homo bonus' meaning 'good man' [nudge nudge, wink wink] :-P

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

'HIGN4U - The Rt. Hon. Tub of Lard MP'

'Blockbusters - End Titles and Hand Jive - Central ITV - 1992'
"TV does not get any better than this" :-D

'Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast with Dara O Briain'

'The Darkness - Live @ Club Nokia, Los Angeles Full'

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