Jul 082017
 

Huh.

Book-loving family in China slowly poisoned by their home library

In short: apparently the family was constantly ill, so they had the air in their home tested. It was found that they were being poisoned by formaldehyde coming off their large collection of books.

I have two questions:

  1. Do books really have that much formaldehyde in them?
  2. Couldn’t they just, I dunno, open a window or something?

 

 Posted by at 11:50 pm
Jul 082017
 

No matter how mind-snappingly stupid an idea or a movement is, no matter how objectively and *obviously* flawed its basic premise is… there will be people who cling to it forever. Observe:

These Coloradans say Earth is flat. And gravity’s a hoax. Now, they’re being persecuted.

The Flat Earth movement is growing in Colorado, thanks to technology and skepticism about science

Oy.

There’s no point in me rehashing the history and ideas behind the flat Earthers, we’ve heard it all before and it remains an infuriatingly awful conspiracy theory. What’s of interest is that as scientific data proving the non-flat nature of the Earth continues to pile up, more people seem to be signing on. Why?  Well… I think one quote from the article nails the cause:

“They want you to think you’re insignificant, a speck on the earth, a cosmic mistake,” Sargent says. “The flat earth says you are special, we are special, there is a creator, this isn’t some accident.”

Here’s the thing: you *ARE* insignificant. And I don’t even mean on the cosmic scale. Take *any* random human, from you, dear blog reader, to your most cherished loved one, your workplace nemesis, your best friend, your neighbor, whoever. Now, assume that that human has a perfectly normal heart attack and dies tomorrow. Will people care? Sure, probably. But how many? For virtually all the seven billion+ people, that one persons passing will be completely un-noticed. It would be surprising if the news goes beyond an obituary in the back of the local paper. And in a hundred years, that perfectly average human will have been *entirely* forgotten by living humans, remembered solely by unread words on a stone in a cemetery and in unread old databases.

Yeah, you’re insignificant. You’re a speck on the Earth, a cosmic mistake.

But you’re one insignificant speck among seven billion others. If you work at it, aren’t a jerk and behave rationally and intelligently, you might help be a part of turning this mess of specks into something meaningful on a cosmic scale. *YOU* won’t live to see it, but so what? If you live well, you might enjoy your brief life and have some satisfaction that you did something useful.

Or… you could decide to live delusionally and just decide that you are more important than you really are. It might make you feel special to think that the universe was set up just for your piddly ass, but it won’t mean that you really are special. In the end, you will not only die and be forgotten, like everyone else, you will play no useful or meaningful role in advancing mankind.

Oh, and headline writer? Being mocked is not “persecution.”

 Posted by at 3:46 pm
Jul 072017
 

Fight over Star Wars and Star Trek led to assault, Oklahoma police say

Ah, kids these days…

Oklahoma City Police Department reports show that Whyte and another man were in the living room of an apartment in the 1400 block of NW 16 Street when they began arguing if Star Wars or Star Trek was better. The victim told police he became frustrated and stated “You’re just a trick” before walking back to his room.

Eventually some stabbenings happen.

“You’re just a trick” is an example of alienese that the article sadly leaves untranslated.

 Posted by at 4:48 pm
Jul 062017
 

The video below is aimed at the video gamer, but I think the narrator nails the essence of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, and what a *lot* of people get wrong about it. Cthulhu is not a giant dumb monster,  Godzilla with face tentacles; instead, Cthulhu is supremely intelligent, supremely malign and completely invulnerable not only to humanities weapons, but to our understanding. Cthulhu and his ilk cannot be fought; they can only – maybe – be evaded. Your hope lies not in victory, but in remaining un-noticed, or in simply not being anywhere near where Cthuhu might happen to be. If The Stars Are Right, if you are supremely lucky you will have by that point developed time travel, stargates or warp drive that can get you the hell away before he notices you.

“What they get wrong about Cthulhu” is something that covers a lot of authors as well as game designers. There have been a lot of short stories and books written in recent years that simply get the Lovecraftian world *wrong.* A lot of it has come about as people try to update the mythos for modern sensibilities… yes, Lovecraft was a racist, but trying to wrap the mythos around morality tales completely misses the point of Lovecrafts cosmic horror. Think back to the best of his cosmic horror tales: do you actually remember any of the human characters as actual characters? I sure don’t. Any of them could have been rich or poor, smart or dumb, left-handed or righties, short or tall, chipper or dour, friendly or curmudgeons, men or women, black or white… and none of it would a have made the slightest difference. Cthulhu, Yog Sothoth, the Deep ones…none of ’em give a damn. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived a life of privilege and joy, or have been oppressed and stomped on by life… you’re all equally crunchy.And trying to make many of Lovecraft’s non-human entities at all sympathetic is *really* missing the point. I’ve seen a number of tales that try to draw parallels between the government rounding up Deep Ones at the end of “Shadow Over Innsmouth” and governments rounding up ethnic groups and either segregating them or trying to wipe them out. But what that seems to miss is the fact that the Deep Ones not only kinda want to wipe out humanity, they have the power to do it, but they’re simply too lethargic or distracted to do so. The Deep ones aren’t simply victims of unthinking prejudice; they are *active* villains. Worse, they are apparently in cahoots with even greater threats  perhaps even Cthulhu. So the right moral to draw from the end of “Innsmouth” isn’t “it’s bad to inter funny-lookin’ foreigners,” it’s “be careful about these guys so you don’t get ’em riled up so that they destroy the entire surface of the Earth.”

Similarly, there are a number of references to human Cthulhu (and other entity) cultists in Lovecrafts work. But these aren;t poor, misunderstood folk who simply have a different religion… these people are, by and large, *nuts* in a diagnosable sense. These people aren’t just worshipping different, they are hoping for, and trying to aid, the extermination of mankind. Screw those guys.

 Posted by at 5:59 pm
Jul 052017
 

Oy.

I can’t really blame the people in the video for being so twisted up. They are themselves victims… not of an evil racist America, but of a great many people – in the media, in the pulpits, in the government – who make bank off convincing people that they are oppressed, and that the way to deal with it is to keep themselves down.

 Posted by at 8:36 pm
Jul 052017
 

Ah, city life. With the being trapped in metal tubes with belligerent drunks, what’s not to like?

There is clearly a hero in this story… but I suspect that the hero may be in some legal trouble for having struck first. Still, it seems he did what he set out to, and did it well.

 Posted by at 11:01 am