Feb 212017

Here are two more images to haunt your dreams and harrow, yes, your very soul. Two ads from the early 70’s that demonstrate not only tragic notions of what makes good mens fashions, but also incomprehensible notions of how to sell said fashions. I’m guessing that this was a result of the fetish for “machismo” that filled the 70’s… not so much actual masculinity as a theatrical parody of it.

Pictures after the break to protect fragile minds.

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 Posted by at 1:41 am
Feb 172017

Ugh. I feel several points dumber for having watched this. I shudder to imagine how idiotic I’d feel if I paid money to see the full thing.

It is pretty sad that so much time, effort and resources are expended on patently false nonsense. More than a century after the facts become universally available that shoot down the pillars of the argument here, people still trot this rubbish out. Sigh. But then, centuries after communism was shown to be disastrous, people still trot it out. Millenia after the Earth was shown to be spherical, flat Earthers still exist. Astrology. Ghost hunters. Dowsers. It seems that being objectively, provably false just makes some ideas immortal.

Especially sad that it is readily shot down, line by line:




 Posted by at 11:41 pm
Feb 172017

Yay, modern toys! I don’t recall the talking dolls from *my* childhood posing this problem…

German parents told to destroy Cayla dolls over hacking fears

Short form: looks like your standard plastic doll for little girls. Has some electronics in it… electronics that include a Bluetooth device that is hooked up to the internet. It can understand speech and will hold conversations with the child… apparently not unlike Siri or other modern voice recognition systems. On one hand, it is an obvious application of technology that is now several years old. On the other hand, it’s new enough that the basic idea still seems pretty creepy just on its own. But it gets better: apparently the Bluetooth system is not very secure and is readily hackable. This means a few fun possibilities:

  1. It can be turned into a listening device.
  2. Since it can talk, a hacker could use it to tell your children… things.

Imagine *that* one. A young child has a beloved talking toy that suddenly starts telling the child subtle and evil things. “Mommy doesn’t love you anymore.” “You’re too fat.” “Tell Daddy to vote for the Democrat.” “Pour gasoline on the puppy.” “Satan is your friend.” “Allahu ackbar.” “Give your little brother a special hug with the kitchen knife.”

Yeeesh. No wonder the German government is telling parents to simply destroy the thing.

 Posted by at 6:27 pm
Feb 132017

Nazis. Nazis everywhere.

It was quickly pointed out that these are not the sort of misshapen swastikas that you could expect to see scrawled on a wall or sidewalks (perhaps more likely by the “victim,” as a way to gin up sympathy), but are instead construction markers for utility or sewer workers.

I expect we’re going to see a *lot* of sloppy swastikas over the next few years. A tiny number of actual neo-Nazis/white supremecists, a larger number of juvenile trolls, and a substantial number of “anti fascists” trying to fearmonger, agitate, raise funds or just plain cause trouble.

And then there’ll be the idiots who fearmonger over honest symbols that have nothing to do with politics.

 Posted by at 6:56 pm
Feb 122017

Has China beaten Nasa in building warp-drive technology dubbed the ‘impossible engine’?


OK, the basic claim seems to be that China has built an “EM engine.” Fine, whatever. But the article goes off the rails in a hurry. Firstly, there’s the title of the article: the Em engine is *not*  a warp drive. Then the article claims that an EM engine could send a ship to Mars in a matter of weeks. Ummm… no. The tests that have been done have shown that if there is any net thrust at all (and there’s every reason to suspect that this is actually a matter of experimental error), the levels of thrust are *exceedingly* low. Instead of shoving a ship to Mars in a matter of weeks, a few weeks at full thrust will *maybe* rack up a few meter per second of delta V.

Fake space news, baby.

 Posted by at 6:30 pm
Feb 112017

Apparently the makers of Star Trek: Discovery think that Klingons look like this:


Star Trek: Discovery is supposed to be set about ten years before Kirk took command of the Enterprise, in the “original” timeline. And it has been established that in that timeline, and at that point in time, due to the “Augment” virus introduced in season four of “Enterprise,” the Klingons look like the swarthy humans of the original series. So WTF is going on here? Are we going to get some explanation that these are mutant Klingons who reacted weirdly to the virus? Early experiments in fixing the virus? or is this just the usual “I know TV producers… they love to change things?”

 Posted by at 9:14 pm
Feb 102017

Last year I made mention of two short phrases that for as long as I can remember have always stirred uncomfortableness in me… “come and see” and “come with me now.” Neither is inherently a statement that should cause unease, but they nevertheless do in me. There is another such phrase, one I’d long forgotten. In the 1935 movie “Bride of Frankenstein, the new character of Dr. Pretorious convinces Dr. Frankenstein – who had sworn off his life-creation experiments as a blasphemous and bad idea – to get back on the job. Dr. Pretorious at one point offers a toast to their project… “Here’s to a new world of gods and monsters.”

A modified version of that line, “Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters,” has been used in some of the promotional material for the forthcoming “Universal Monster Cinematic Universe,” which is to kick off with this summers “The Mummy.” (It was apparently supposed to have kicked off with “Dracula Untold” a few years ago, but since it kinda bombed…)

Anyway, “a new world of gods and monsters” is a phrase that, like “come and see,” kinda sets my teeth on edge. What’s interesting: I hadn’t thought of “a new world of gods and monsters” in *years* until I saw it revived for “The Mummy.” And yet, now that I am well into a series of interlinked stories set in the universe of “Mass Disappearance” and “Going to Gimli,” being perhaps halfway through what might be a full-up novel, “Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters” would be a fantastic tagline. And while I doubt that the makers of “Bride of Frankenstein” had H.P. Lovecraft in mind when they wrote that line, it fits well into his Cthulhu mythos as well.

My stories, without intending it, would actually almost seem to bridge the Frankenstein and Lovecraft worlds. The world is something that Lovecraft would have recognized, apart from the technology; but the gods and monsters are, unlike HPL’s incomprehensibly powerful beings from Beyond, largely the results of mankinds own efforts, intentional and otherwise.

I have no doubt that there are other such small phrases that have similar impacts upon my tiny little mind. There are some that have virtually the opposite… rather than inspiring vague nameless dread, “ashes of our fathers” inspires pride. Of course, for that to happen, one has to know the fuller context of the phrase, and even then it may well be that emotional links depend on a wide range of circumstances. Had I not seen “Bride of Frankenstein” until five years ago, or never heard of “Come and see” until it was used in season one of “Sleepy Hollow,” they might have no more impact on me than “Yes We Can” or “I Like Ike” or “Make America Great Again.”

So: what have y’all got? What little snippet of religious text, literature, lyrics, poetry, etc. can you hear and immediately feel  a sense of dread that seems excessive to the small little phrase?



There’s also always “BWOOP BWOOP Pull. Up. BWOOP BWOOP Pull. Up.” Hearing that in a movie never fails to give me the willies.

 Posted by at 3:23 am
Feb 082017

From the standpoint of solar irradiation, the recently announced Proxima b planet seemed to be in the “life zone.” Small problem: while the total amount of sunlight falling on the planet approximates the amount Earth gets, it also gets other stuff far more abundantly than Earth does. In particular… nasty stuff. Stuff that would trash an Earthly atmosphere in a geological blink of an eye. In short: every two hours Proxima would send a storm of X-Rays and ultraviolet from superflares blasting into the atmosphere of Proxima b, ionizing the oxygen and accelerating its escape into space. It’s estimated that the oxygen atmosphere would last about 10 million years.

NASA Redefines Life Zones for Alien Planets –“Nixes Earth-Sized Planet of Our Closest Neighbor Red Dwarf Star Proxima Centauri”


Seems red dwarfs, the most common stars out there, are likely not going to be terribly good places to find Earthlike worlds. It *may* be that roughly Earthlike worlds might be found further out from the stars, Of course they would be frozen iceballs… unless they were in close enough orbit to massive companions, gas giants perhaps, that tidal forcing would pump enough energy into their cores to keep them warm. This would present its own set of troubles, such as being tidally locked to the gas giant, and common and likely astonishing earthquakes.


 Posted by at 9:08 pm