I don’t know if this is an accurate report, or little more than an email chain letter…

People Kept Complaining This Restaurant Sucked, Look What They Found Out…

Short form: a New York City restaurant that has been around a good many years has been getting increasingly bad reviews, so they hired outsiders to figure it out. Security camera tapes from 2004 were found and compared to current-day recordings. Upshot: people spend numerous minutes before ordering their food futzing with their phones. Then when the food comes, they spend more minutes taking photos of their food. Then more minutes taking photos of *each* *other* with their food. By this point the food is cold, so they send it back to be reheated. Then many more minutes to eat and pay, since they’re on their phones. Thus slowing down the waiters and making the next set of customers wait.

I’m of two minds. On one hand, this sounds like bullcrap, like the plot to a bad sitcom. Who actually wastes that much time taking pictures of their *food?* On the other hand, this is New York City, one of the great centers of self-absorption and shallow meaninglessness in the modern world. “Ooh, look at me, I’m doing something banal. I’d better tell the world!”

I don’t eat out all that often. But even in those rare instances when I have, I don’t recall having ever seen someone whip out an Iphone and take snapshots of their steak.

Ask yourself when it’s ever cool for a cop to respond to a complaint with:

“When you’re wearing that, what do you expect is going to happen here?”

So, what does a guy look like who’ll sexually abuse a boy under the age of twelve? Well, if the father happens to walk in on the molestation… kinda like this:

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Bad as this scumbag feels now… wait till the general prison population gets a hold of him. Dregs of humanity they may be, they tend to take a dim view of child abusers.

Juuuuust a bit of a different tone.

Yesterday:

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Back in the day:

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Thirty years ago, it was a “massacre” and a “crime against humanity” that “must never be forgotten,” “violating every concept of human rights.” Yesterday, “it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.” And then he proceeds to blow off allies (“our first priority” was to “determine if there were American citizens on board”), tell jokes and fundraise.

Out soon is the movie “Lucy.” It looks massively entertaining (as it should be, being written and directed by Luc Besson, who gave us “The Fifth Element” and “From Paris With Love” and “Taken”), but there’s an aspect to it that has bugged me since I first saw a trailer for it, months ago. Namely, the tagline:

“The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%.”

The problem is… humans *already* use 100% of their brain capacity. The 10% thing is a myth going on a century old, described in some detail here:

Humans Already Use Way, Way More Than 10 Percent of Their Brains

The 10% myth is basically an urban legend with no basis in fact whatsoever, but it’s an urban legend that just freakin’ refuses to die.

That said: the human brain, though it’s being used at much more than 10%, could of course be made to run better. Whether via cybernetics, drugs or perhaps some genetic rewiring, it (like any naturally evolved system) can be greatly improved upon while still retaining its basic nature. In “Lucy,” as the main character gains more and more control she gains magical superpowers… telekinesis and apparently control over time, for starters. These are of course silly. Just because your brain has been boosted doesn’t mean you’ll be able to change the laws of physics. But what you might be able to do:

1) Think (and read, and do math, and process information) faster

2) Think *deeper* (run complex simulations in your head quickly and accurately)

3) Think more creatively

Put those together, and you’ll really have something. #3 is the one that popular culture seems to have the greatest fixation on, as if pure creativity is in and of itself this wonderful thing. But without #1 and #2, creativity is just gibberish. Without the ability to collate data *and* process the validity of an idea in the context of the available data, coming up with new ideas turns into coming up with uncontrolled nonsense. “What if purple monkey dishwasher?”

I suspect that within a generation or two there will be drugs and/or gene therapies that will boost functional IQs. Turn an average person into a genius; make a genius into a super-genius. This will, of course, annoy the hell out of a whole lot of people. *Any* drug is expensive when it first comes on the market. So the Brain boost is going to cost (handwave) ten grand a pop at first. Who could afford that? Well… rich people. Taking rich folk – who, in many cases, already have a tendency to be smarter – and making them thirty IQ points higher up will only make them richer still. This will not go over well.

What these drugs won’t do is allow you to use more of your brain. they’ll allow you to use the same amount of your brain… but more efficiently and/or powerfully. And they won’t let you teleport.

By a Russian “Buk” missile, reportedly. Fingers being pointed at the pro-Russian separatists. Plane had 295 souls on board, all dead now.

BBC: Ukraine airliner ‘crash’ updates

CNN: Report: Malaysia Airlines flight crashes in Ukraine

The “Buk” missile is a substantial weapon, launched from an armored vehicle. Somewhat akin to the Patriot missile the Buk is capable of reaching aircraft at an altitude of 25 km… well above the 33,000 foot cruising altitude of the jetliner.

UPDATE: Below is a twitter feed showing a number of photos of wreckage on the ground. Be warned, though… some of the wreckage used to be alive. The fall from 33,000 feet, and especially that sudden stop at the end, does the human body no favors. So if Ogrish and Rotten were your websites of choice back in the day, here ya go (not directly linking because, well, if ya want it, what, are your fingers broke?)

https://twitter.com/MatevzNovak

This one might prove to be a bit heartbreaking for a few hundred families:

passports

UPDATED update: Another interesting Twitter feed:

https://twitter.com/StateOfUkraine

UPDATED UPDATED update:

Oh, it’s on now:

Reuters World @ReutersWorld  ·  22m

#BREAKING: Number of dead from crash of #MH17 more than 300, includes 23 U.S. citizen: Interior Ministry adviser, quoted by Interfax

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One of the best reasons to not reduce much of certain regions to softly glowing green glass is because of all the neat historical and archeological sites and artifacts. But if those sites and artifacts don’t exist anymore… that reason goes away, and were left with “ummm… something about looking bad, or something?”

How Syria’s ancient treasures are being smashed

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At some point, “silly” turns into “sad” which turns into “tragic.”

British Film Institute tells filmmakers to tick new diversity targets or miss funding

In order to score funding from the BFI (honestly, I don’t know how important that is for the British film industry), it is proposed that new Britfilms must have two of the following three features:

at least one lead character must be “positively reflecting diversity”, with the story more likely to receive funding if it “explicitly and predominantly explores issues of identity relating to ethnicity or national origins, a specific focus on women, people with disabilities, sexual identity, age and people from a socially disadvantaged background”. … It will ask filmmakers to ensure that at least 30 per cent of supporting and non-speaking characters are also “diverse”.

Off-screen, at least two heads of department must be from diverse backgrounds, as well as a range of “key creatives” including the director, screenwriter, composer and cinematographer.

The third category requires companies to offer paid internships and jobs to “new entrants from diverse backgrounds” and to help them progress.

One wonders what exactly is meant by “diverse. Does this mean that a film about, say, King Henry the 8th  can get away with having an Irish character? or must it be a blind black lesbian single mother who has courageously struggled against domestic abuse and alcoholism?

On this same page there is a link to a piece about a new BBC series:

BBC goes for Game of Thrones audience with new Saxon vs Viking drama

Now how the hell are they going to shoehorn 30% “diverse” actors into a story about Scandinavian white people fighting Germanic white people in a world populated almost exclusively with white people? Or are they going to make a third of these dark-age warriors gay cowboys eating pudding?

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‘Mocking accents should be a crime’ says linguist, Dr Baratta

I’ve no idea who this goober is. Likely a nobody, apart from being a professor of Something Or Other at Manchester U. But making speech a crime? How does this merit anything other than mockery and derision? Anybody know what exact accent he has, so that it can be mocked? Really, there’s only one reply to this sort of idiocy.

If tales and photos and videos of reasonably intelligent critters being horribly abused fill you with an uncomfortableness… then here ya go:

Incredible sight of the elephant that cried: Raju was held in chains, beaten and abused for fifty years and on the day he was released tears rolled down his face

Some people need a whoopin’. I remember how messed up I was when I learned the extent of Marvin’s abuses at the hands of humans; I imagine some of the people involved in rescuing this elephant must have been about ready for some creative manslaughter.
Tell me this doesn’t look like a sad old man:
aaaargh

So yesterday I posted about the Delta Clipper. And today, word starts filtering out that Bill Gaubatz, Delta Clipper program manager at McDonnell-Douglas, has passed away.

Sonova…

I met him a number of times through setting up Mid-Continent Space Development Conferences at Iowa State U, where he came a few times to give presentations on DC-X and how we were on the cusp of a new era in space. And he personally invited me and others down to White Sands to watch the first public launch.

Bah, I say. Bah.

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