Sunday, 1 May 2016

Entertainment stuff from the week 25/4 - 1/5/16

Hi reasonably-cunnilingual cookers,

Another lesson in the importance of understanding psychology, might be pending, starting this year.

The Indian State of Bihar has announced that it is going to prosecute people for cooking with open fires, during the times of 9am and 6pm, in order to prevent the fires that have killed dozens of people this year alone.

'Indian state threatens to jail people who cook between 9am and 6pm'

I certainly hope their plan works, but it could easily be counter-productive. The basics of the objection being the same as the ill-reasoning that discouraged Ronnie O'Sullivan from going for a 147, earlier this year.

He was offered £10,000 for a 147 (which is relatively low) and so deliberately averted from it, thinking that it wasn't worth it. I'll just make this clear for those who are not familiar with the sport: budding snooker players have wet-dreams about making 147 breaks in professional events!

The problem wasn't that he didn't have a motive for it; it was that his motive had been transplanted with a different one... an insufficient one. This explanation is covered by SDT (Self Determination Theory) for anyone who really wants to geek out on it :-D

Back in Bihal, if people aren't allowed to cook during the day, then they might see that as encouragement to cook at other times, and so increase the numbers of fires between 6pm and 9am, when the threat is more difficult to navigate and manage.

The ban will shift their motive for avoiding fires, from the moral motive of avoiding harm, to the social motive, of avoiding prosecution. This will reward people for 'cheekiness' - having an open fire, without getting caught, away from prying eyes. A kind of black market for fires, if you like.

Also, this law will encourage communities to be deceitful. In the interests of self-preservation, and the preservation of their peers, they will forget the threat of the fire, which has already passed, and turn to protecting those who would be prosecuted for starting it.

Mistakes will be protected instead of corrected. This is common psychology - humans are very willing to issue white lies to 'authorities' just so that they don't go through the humiliation of being blamed. Fear of prosecution can only make that worse.

I wonder whether research is under way, to track people's changing behaviours, as this law is imposed. It would contribute to SDT's evidence base to know how this law's going to manifest in practice.


This May will feature Privacy Awareness Week, which has been held ten times before, to encourage people to become more aware of the importance of protecting personal information

The 5th of May will be this year's National Day Of Reason - a secular celebration for humanists, atheists, and other secularists and freethinkers in response to the National Day of Prayer, which is a legally-recognised holiday in the USA

In other news:

Arachnid cunnilingus. There, i said it. Now, don't worry - you don't have to do it, yourself - this is one for spiders of the same species only. Otherwise it would be bestiality, and that would be weird. Madagascan Darwin's bark spiders (Caerostris darwini) have been found to engage in the usual sexual cannibalism and genital mutilation (both common in spiders) but also what seems to be oral sex, with the males salivating onto the females' genitalia. C. darwini is already noted for producing the biggest webs, and toughest silk, of any known spider species, but the discovery that they engage in cunnilingus before, during, and after sex, up to 100 times, can only add to their interestingness. It's hypothesised that the practice might increase fertility, by nurturing the sperm, or be a signal to the female, that the male is sexually selectable. If you'd like to see them going at it, see one of the many videos embedded in the article.
{Note: When i first posted this article, pre-checking, i'd mis-spelled '
genital mutilation' as 'genial mutilation'. I wish to make it clear that i do not have a 'friendly and cheerful' attitude to grievous physical harm :-P }

For the second time in the LHC's history, a non-human animal has suspended research at the collider. Last time, 7 years ago, a bird dropped a bit of baguette on an external electrical power supply, resulting in a part of the cooling system shutting down; this time, a beech marten, which is related to weasels (and similarly famous for getting through tight gaps) got into a 66,000-volt transformer and got fried. The collider was out of action for upgrades anyway, but the whole thing will have to be checked over again, just to be on the safe side.

The prime minister of Cambodia has announced that 1 million hectares of forest, currently illegally exploited by loggers, are to be granted protection in the country's protected zones. The same government has taken flack for allowing this destruction, in the past, for the sake of industries from rubber and sugar cane plantations to hydropower dams. As well as contributing to climatic change, by releasing CO2eq from the soil and biomass store, logged forests around the world threaten the biodiversity that protects species, humans included, from the spread of disease.

Yahoo's mistress, Marissa Meyer, is due to be paid $55 million in a severance fee, if Yahoo's auction results in its sale, later this year. Possibly to the Daily Fail. For the last four years, she and her henchmen have been claiming to be the solution to Yahoo's ills, but she has completely failed. Largely because Google and Facebook still exist, and Yahoo has not changed to compete with them. $55m for failure. 98% of the world's people don't get a fraction of that for success... in their entire lifetimes! Former CEO Carol Bartz received $16m 'compensation' in 2011, having received $47m for her first year of work! This is the mountain of inequality that sex-factionalists try to hide away, behind the molehill of 25 cents per dollar. Marissa Meyer's only noteable achievement in office, has been the squeezing of twin girls out of her body, about half way through her tenure. If i can get $55m for that, then sign me up :-D

Mobile phone roaming charges across the EU, collapsed on saturday, ahead of their abolishment on the 15th of June 2017. The charges are stratospheric in comparison to local rates, and are imposed on travellers by telecommunications companies, basically just because they can. Many an ill-prepared tourist has been caught out. Thanks to the existence of the EU, and membership of it, EU citizens have an organisation that can protect them from the predatory charges. [nudge nudge, ahead of the vote, this June] :-P

The Champs-Elysees, in Paris, is due to be pedestrianised for one day a month (the first Sunday) starting in May, in order to cut the smog that currently blankets the city. The first sunday of every month is also an occasion when all the museums are free to enter. According to the WHO, fine-particle air pollution is responsible for about 42,000 premature deaths in France each year.

In Germany, self-conflictedness over fossil fuels continues. The Germans pride themselves on being 'ahead of the curve' and in this way they are - the German government is planning a subsidy programme to increase the number of electric cars on the road, which will employ more people in the emerging electric car industry. Other governments with similar economic positions have not been so forward thinking. But the conflicted nature of policy in Germany comes from their continued insistence on rejecting nuclear power ahead of coal power. Most recently, they've threatened the Belgian government over two of their nuclear power stations. It seems silly to 'embrace the future' with non-fossil-fuel dependant vehicles, but to increase reliance on 'the past' with national domestic/industrial energy infrastructure. The benefits of using electric cars will fall, the more of the energy on the grid that comes from fossil fuel-based power stations.

So, Bob Yirka's being wrong again. I have nothing personal against him (not yet, at least) but it's the subject that's got me mentioning him again. This time that subject's Sci-Hub, which is an open access website for scientific papers, that has been the subject of legal attacks on behalf of Journal owners. The thing about research, is that it's useless unless people can read it. Secret 'evidence' can't be regarded as evidence. Hence the inverted commas. By attacking Sci-Hub, they're defending a system that locks science away, in a cage, so that only feepayers may see it. As discussed on the last episode of Skeptics with a K, sometimes researchers can't afford to pay the fees, that would allow them to read their own research papers! Vast swathes of human endeavour are being kept secret, for the sake of profit, in the hands of Science Journals' owners. When researchers want people to actually see the work they've put so much effort into, despite the paywalls on the journals they publish in (limited by constraints beyond their control) they might choose to publish a duplicate on Sci-Hub. This means their time and effort is not left on the electronic equivalent of a dusty shelf, in an obscure corner, of a privately owned library. No company, including Elsevier (already subject to a boycott by ~5000 academics) should be allowed to 'copyright' research, so that humanity can not benefit from it.

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found that Kuiper Belt Object and dwarf planet Makemake (pronounced 'mahky-mahky') has a moon. It's been provisionally named 'S/2015 (136472) 1' and nicknamed 'MK2', measures ~160 km across, and orbits ~21,000 km away from Makemake.

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

'New highest resolution images of long-lost Beagle 2 lander'
Don't get your hopes up :-P

'Cassini image: Criss-crossed rings'

'Sentinel-1B's first image'
[video] And it's departure from Earth:

'Image: Ice scours the North Caspian sea'

'Image: T6 ion thruster firing'

'SDO captures stunning view of April 17 solar flare'

'Which light bulb looks most like sunlight?'

'Skin that can survive 20 TONS!'

'A Journey into a Black Hole Collision'

'Distant Quasars: Shedding Light on Black Holes'

'Disgruntled Royalty'

'Cassetteboy vs Jeremy Hunt'

'FWS - The Briggs-Rauscher Reaction'

'Stuck On You - game show with immunology researchers'

'Beaches and Cream | The Checkout'

'Quick D: Mirror Ball'

'Dad³'s Story Time! - The Eyepatch!'

'"I'm So Friggin' Country" by Roy Zimmerman'

'Nerd³ Plays... Job Simulator - The Office'

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

Word Of The Week: weltschmerz -- German for world-pain or world-weariness, coined by the German author Jean Paul to refer to the pain of realising that reality can never satisfy one's desire(s)

Accidentally-Euphemistical Quote Of The Week: "It looks like i'm beating off his cavalry" - Alex the Rambler

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

'Victoria Wood - Talking about having a baby LIVE'

'Victoria Wood on ISIHAC - Bob The Builder, I Dreamed A Dream'

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