First up: a retired A-10 Warthog is being refitted to serve as a tornado chaser:

 


Second: flooding in Russia takes down a static display Su-15 interceptor:

The Flood Washes Planes Away in Magadan

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D’oh.

Ken Ham. Granted, I suspect most halfway intelligent Christians are as embarrassed to claim Ham as one of their own as I, a human being, am embarrassed to admit that he is, apparently, also a human being. But still, this purveyor of religious idiocy and anti-science gibberish is relevant to the discussion of religion and aliens, due to a blog posting of his a few days ago:

The search for extraterrestrial life is really driven by man’s rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution!

Translation: The search for facts is anti-my-God. Nobody could possibly have any reason to explore the universe unless they are trying to kill God.

And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth.

Translation: Sucks to be Vulcan. Y’all will get punished for what one of *us* did, 6,000 years ago. Burn!

Gah.

There’s some sort of allegory for Washington politics here…

Former contractor says she was attacked by rats at DC’s Providence Hospital

Excitingly, the rodents are gnawing upon the bodies of the dead in the hospital morgue:

“They were going into places like the anal area, the vaginal area, the pubic area of the males,” Doris Kennard said. “That’s where they would get in.”

Nuke_it

You know, there just might be a reason why some westerners are leery of any acceptance of sharia law by western courts…

Isis ‘ordering female genital mutilation’ in Iraq – UN

An edict was *apparently* released stating that all women between the ages of 11 and 46 in the city of Mosul must undergo the procedure. There is some question as to whether the edict was legitimately put out by ISIS, or whether it’s a hoax designed to make ISIS look bad. But like Poes Law, it’s one of those things where even if it’s a hoax, the reality is so bad that the hoax is entirely believable.  The Pope declares mandatory FGM? Nobody’d believe it. Obama orders it? Nobody’d believe it. Glenn Beck called for it? Nope. Putin? Castro? Hobby Lobby? How about an Islamic cleric with newfound political power? Weeeeellllll….

Every city has its problems. Every travel guide worth a damn should tell you about not only the general sort of problems a city might have (“avoid XYZ area after dark, due to muggers”) and more specific ones (“avoid ZYX area at all times, due to radioactive hippies”). So it’s not surprising that this online guidebook to Moscow, Russia, has some warnings about people to avoid. The weird thing? Who some of those people are:

Moscow Russia Insider’s Guide: Nazi Skinheads

Russian Nazis. Let that sink in.

(O_°)

(Yes, I’ve touched on this mind-snapping weirdness before.)

China seals off 30,000 people after bubonic plague death

Couple this with the ebola outbreak, and… party time!

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.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. But hey, at least we got Facebook, amirite? YOLO!

 

Bah.

Juuuuust a bit of a different tone.

Yesterday:

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YouTube Direkt

Back in the day:

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YouTube Direkt

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.

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