I’ll get around to the children’s edition of ‘Make Yourself a Scientist’… soonish.

Some bits and bobs (space-bits and space-bobs included as well, of course) today:

That’s from an awesome blog I accidentally found, Geek Art. Nice stuff here. Very nice stuff. Go, go now.

Check these mad videos I found there:

I recently gave my dad the following advice about web browsers. For your own safety on the web as much as everyone else’s, give the following some consideration.

It’s important for the health of the internet as a whole to have users on a variety of web browsers out in the wild – it cuts into criminals’ profit margins to craft virii* and exploits that target multiple browsers.  That being said, IE has a lot of unbeatable  compatibility advantages, so I recommend using IE for safe browsing like web banking, your corporate intranet, government sites, etc. and another browser (any other browser, as long as it’s not IE: Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Camino) for run-of-the-mill surfing and visiting new sites.

* Yes, I know it’s ‘viruses’ these days, but I enjoyed the eccentricities of Latin words in English that we had last century. It’s not often I’m the crazy old guy clinging to the past.


My new FaceBook avatar. Yes, I’m a dork

Okay, the rant (a topic I’ve hit on before, but damn is the sequel a good one):

Dear lady at the pharmacy who tried to sell Atomique on homeopathic remedies because ‘this one time there was this cat who got hit by a car and I gave it something homeopathic because I couldn’t think of anything else to do and then when the cat got to the vet the vet said he was amazed that the cat hadn’t gone into shock and so it must have been the homeopathy that did it therefore homeopathy works’.

Listen, lady at the pharmacy: that story about one cat is a very very very poor sample size to back any statement of efficacy of your magic potions. Statistically speaking, I’m sure that one out of every such-and-such number of similar accidents involving cats results in the cat ‘surprisingly’ not entering shock. In clinical trials (and other, not so clinical events), homeopathic remedies DO NOTHING. Medical studies require a certain amount of test subjects to ensure a significant number of results in order to determine what effects a substance has. Not one thorough study, ever, has produced any observation that indicates homeopathic remedies do anything at all.

Not only that, but the underlying mechanism you claim is at work in your snake oil, that water has some kind of supernatural ability to remember the things that used to be in it, is not possible according to the laws of the universe that every single person who studies the way the universe works has come to agree to as the best model to describe how reality works. Homeopathy was imagined by some crazy dickface who foisted it as a miracle remedy on the uneducated public (the same knuckleheads who thought bloodletting was the best way to help the ill) of the late 1700s  – without rigorous testing to see if it actually did anything, an ultimate act of ass-hattery. His fraudulent douchebag followers insist to this day that it has value, despite volumes of scientific discoveries that make its underlying principle laughably retarded.

This is not some elaborate conspiracy to keep you from padding your coffers healing the poor by selling them expensive vials of water, it’s many people in many countries of various cultures all making the same observations and drawing the same conclusion about what those observations mean.

Please stop behaving like what you’re talking about is real, makes sense, or can be conceived of as truthful by anyone capable of reason. If you’re ignorant of the truth behind homeopathy, shame on you for pretending to be knowledgeable so as to try and convince a stranger to part with their money for nothing (Atomique, a clever bear, tells me she tactfully laughed her way out of this laughable situation without incident); if you’re a charlatan knowingly fleecing your fellow humans, go fuck yourself.

A good friend once gave me a mighty compliment: in the midst of a discussion about something astrophysics-y or biology-y, he said to me “yeah, but you’re the scientist.”

As chuffed as I was to be bestowed with that title, I am in no way, shape or form cut out for the precision required for lab work. Or, for that matter, the hours of math grokking needed. I don’t doubt I could learn the math, but it’s just not a thing I want to devote that much of my life to. I love science, but the end result is all I’m after – my talents lie elsewhere.

So, why am I ‘the scientist’ if I’m not an actual scientist? I suppose I do hold a fairly impressive volume of scientific knowledge in my head, gleaned from sources written with laymen like myself in mind, and more importantly, written to at least be a teeny bit entertaining to keep the learning from feeling like work.  I’m not talking about scientific papers here, I’m talking about woks that explain the mysteries of the universe without the weight (intellectually and physically) of a bio-chemistry textbook.  This kind of reading falls on the ‘easier to digest’ side of things than Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. I will finish my copy of that some day.

You too can be a scientist (not an actual scientist, though) and enjoy the learning along the way – here’s some source material to get you started:

The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA

Genetics and DNA explained – in graphic novel format! The Stuff of Life not only tackles the basics of life as we know it, but it also chronicles the history behind early genetic knowledge through to the Human Genome Project and modern applications of genetic science. In the book, we follow an alien scientist tasked with studying life on Earth as a means to discover a cure for his species’ own genetic failures. It’s a sneaky way to work all the basics into the story, giving a loose and entertaining narrative to what would otherwise be a dry chronicle of the field.

It’s a clever way to present the material, and the strengths of the genre are used well: the authors use the imagery to lend context and make some of the more difficult concepts easier to grok. It’s certainly easier to follow an explanation on RNA and DNA when I can follow through the panes that RNA is the one with the hat on backwards like a rap dude.

Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists

Relativity is one of those things that has always really nagged me. I’m clever enough to grapple most concepts into submission, but the whole ‘time and space being different depending on where you are and how fast you’re travelling’ thing has always really irked me because I just couldn’t wrap my stupid monkey-brain around it. Richard Wolfson to the rescue!

Professor Wolfson is energetic and excited about physics and about explaining physics. The analogies he brings to the table just make sense, which is all I ever wanted out of relativity (and it turns out, in the end, that my inability to make sense of things due to my very limited personal experience as a being never moving more than a teeny-tiny fraction of the speed of light; it’s all about perspective).

The audiobook of these lectures is hella expensive, but audio is the format I prefer as I like to listen in the family spacewagon. There are videos of this lecture series floating around the intertubes for the low low price of nothing, but I cringe at how 80s it looks. Wolfson’s enthusiasm is much better suited to words alone until the 2nd edition, which I presume would look a lot less like an episode of Head of the Class, finds its way onto Youtube.

(Oh, one more thing: tune out the start of each audio file, until the tacky, tacky stock music is over and done with. Please.)

The Nonfiction Works of Isaac Asimov

Okay, so not only did Asimov rock out at writing bad-ass science fiction, but he rocked the ever-living-FUCK out of writing about science.

If I do a quick count over at Wikipedia I tally up over fifty books of his dedicated to popularising and demystifying science.  I’ve read but five of them, all collections of essays on particular topics often grouped together, and every one of them has been mind-staggeringly enlightening. Even the oldest I’ve read, 1968′s Science, Numbers and I still has much knowledge to pass on forty years later.

Asimov writes his non-fiction like a wise uncle sitting at the table after dinner, regaling the family with insight into the inner workings of any topic the gathered children can throw at him. His ability to lend a sense of scale to the majesty of science and bring it into our own realm of understanding is unparalleled (sorry, Richard Wolfson).

These books are also well easy to get your hands on – I’ve yet to walk into a second-hand bookstore that didn’t sport a few of these books on the shelves, courtesy of the great volume of them he wrote.

I’ll sign off with the introduction from Asimov’s Only a Trillion, but stay tuned, there’s a children’s edition of this post to follow!

One of the stories my mother likes to tell about me as a child is that once, when I was nearly five, she found me standing rapt in thought at the curbing in front of the house in which we lived. She said, ‘What are you doing, Isaac?’ and I answered, ‘Counting cars as they pass.’

I have no personal memory of this incident but it must have happened, for I have been counting things ever since. At the age of five I couldn’t have known many numbers and, even allowing for the relatively few cars roaming the streets thirty years ago, I must have quickly reached my limit. Perhaps it was this sense of frustration I then experienced that has made me seek ever sense for countable things that demand higher and higher numbers.

With time I grew old enough to calculate the number of snowflakes it would take to bury Greater New York under ten feet of snow and the number of raindrops it would take to fill the Pacific Ocean. There is even a chance that I was subconsciously driven to make chemistry my life-work out of a sense of gratitude to that science for having made it possible for me to penetrate beyond such things and take – at last – to counting atoms.

There is a fascination in large numbers which catches at most people, I think, even those who are easily made dizzy.

For instance, take the number one million; a 1 followed by six zeroes; or, as expressed by physical  scientists, 106, which means 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10.

Now consider what ‘one million’ means.

How much time must pass in order that a million seconds may elapse? Answer: just over 11½ days.

What about a million minutes? Answer: just under 2 years.

How long a distance is a million inches? Answer: just under 16 miles.

Assuming that every time you take a step your body moves forward about a foot and a half, how far have you gone when you take a million steps? Answer: 284 miles.

In other words:

The secretary who goes off for a week to the mountains has less than a million seconds to enjoy herself.

The professor who takes a year’s Sabbatical leave to write a book has just about  half a million minutes to do it in.

Manhattan Island from end to end is less than a million inches long.

And, finally, you can walk from New York to Boston in less than a million steps.

Even so, you may not be impressed. After all, a plane can cover a million inches in less than a minute. At the height of World War II, the United States was spending a million dollars every six minutes.

So–let’s consider a trillion. A trillion is a million million¹: a 1 followed by 12 zeros; 1,000,000,000,000; 1012.

A trillion seconds is equal to 31,700 years.

A trillion inches is equal to 15,8000,000 miles.

In other words, a trillion seconds ago, Stone age man lived in caves, and mastodons roamed Europe and North America.

Or, a trillion-inch journey will carry you 600 times around the Earth, and leave more than enough distance to carry you to the moon and back.

And yet a good part of the chapters that follow ought to show you quite plainly that even a trillion can become a laughably small figure in the proper circumstances.

After considerable computation one day recently I said to my long-suffering wife: ‘Do you know how rare astanine-215 is? If you inspected all of North and South America to a depth of ten miles, atom by atom, do you know how many atoms of astanine-215 you would find?

My wife said, ‘No, how many?’

To which I replied, ‘Practically none. Only a trillion.’

¹That is, according to American and French usage. In England, a billion is 1012 and a trillion is 1018, that is, zeros are counted in groups of six, not in groups of three as in America and France.

I’m so time-poor at the moment.  I can barely scrape together the time to polish off the decks to get ready for my next gig, let alone bang a few words together. So, I’ll be cheap and use someone else’s words.

Following are some words put in an order far greater than mine have ever been arranged in, a transcript of the speech delivered by Richard Dawkins at the Protest the Pope March in London earlier this month.

I was, at first, as outraged as everybody else by the Pope’s opening remarks, as soon as he landed in Edinboro, blaming atheists for the atrocities of Hitler and the others of the 20th century. But then I took comfort from it because it seemed to me that, in a way, it was showing that we have rattled them so much that he was forced to the ignominious expedient of attacking us so as to divert attention from the real crimes that had been committed in the name of the Catholic church. I can just imagine the discussions in the corridors of Vatican power: “How are we going to distract them from buggering boys? And the answer came: “Why don’t we attack secularists? Why don’t we attack atheists? Why don’t we blame them for Hitlerism?”

Hitler — Adolf Hitler — was a Roman Catholic. He was baptized. He never renounced his baptism. The figure of 5 million Catholics is presumably obtained from baptismal figures. I don’t believe a word of it. I don’t believe there are 5 or 6 million British Catholics. There may be 5 or 6 million who have been baptized but if the church wants to claim them as Catholics, then they have to claim Hitler as a Catholic.

At the very least, Hitler believed in a personified providence. He often spoke of it and it was, presumably, the same providence that was invoked by the Cardinal Archbishop of Munich in 1939 when Hitler escaped assassination and the Cardinal ordered a special te deum in Munich Cathedral, quote, “to thank divine providence, in the name of the archdiocese, that The Furor, fortunately, escaped.”

I’m going to read a speech made in Munich, the heart of Catholic Bavaria, in 1922, and I leave you, as a guess, who’s speech it is . . .

. . . “My feeling, as a Christian, points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once, in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them. And who God’s truth was greatest, not as a sufferer, but as a fighter. In boundless love, as a Christian and as a man, I read through the passage which tells how the Lord, at last, rose in his might and seized the scourge(?) to drive out of the temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison. Today, after 2000 years, with deepest emotion, I recognize more profoundly than ever before that it was for this that he had to shed his blood upon the cross.”

That was one of numerous speeches by Adolf Hitler and passages in Mein Kampf, where Adolf Hitler invoked his own Roman Catholic Christianity. No wonder he received such warm support from within the Catholic hierarchy of Germany.

Even if Hitler had been an atheist, as Stalin surely was, how dare Ratzinger suggest that atheism has any connection whatsoever with their horrific deeds . . . any more than Hitler’s or Stalin’s nonbelief in leprechauns or unicorns . . . any more than their sporting a mustache, along with Franco and Saddam Hussein. There is no logical pathway from atheism to wickedness unless, that is, you are steeped in the vile obscenity at the heart of Catholic theology. I refer to the doctrine of original sin. These people believe – and they teach this to tiny children – at the same time that they teach them the terrifying forces of hell – that every baby is born in sin. That would be Adam’s sin, by the way: Adam, who they themselves now admit never actually existed.

Original sin means that, from the moment we are born, we are wicked, corrupt, damned; unless we believe in their God or unless we fall for the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell. That, ladies and gentleman, is the disgusting theory that leads them to presume that it was godlessness that made Hitler and Stalin the monsters that they were. We are all monsters unless redeemed by Jesus. What a revolting, depraved, inhuman theory to base your life on!

Joseph Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity. He’s an enemy of children whose bodies he’s allowed to be raped and whose minds he has encouraged to be infected with guilt. It’s embarrassingly clear that the church is less concerned with saving children’s bodies from rapists than from saving priestly souls from hell: and most concerned with saving the long-term reputation of the church itself. He’s the enemy of gay people: bestowing on them the sort of bigotry his church used to reserve for Jews before 1962. He’s an enemy of women; barring them from the priesthood, as if a penis were an essential tool for pastoral duties. He’s an enemy of truth; promoting bare-faced lies about condoms not protecting against AIDS, especially in Africa. He’s an enemy of the poorest people on the planet, condemning them to inflated families that they can not feed and so keeping them in the bondage of perpetual poverty. A poverty which sits ill beside the obscene wealth of the Vatican. He’s an enemy of science; obstructing vital stem-cell research on grounds not of true morality but of pre-scientific superstition. Ratzinger is even an enemy of the Queen’s own church. Arrogantly dissing Anglican orders as quote, “Absolutely null and utterly void” – while, at the same time, shameless trying to poach Anglican vicars to shore up his own pitifully declining priesthood.

Finally, perhaps of most personal concern to me, Ratzinger is an enemy of education. Quite apart from the lifelong psychological damage caused by the guilt and fear that has made Catholic education infamous throughout the world, he and his church foster the educationally malicious doctrine that evidence is a less reliable basis for belief than faith, tradition, revelation and authority . . . HIS authority.

I don’t know where all the time goes.  It’s here, I’m fairly certain of that, but I’m just not seeing it.  I imagine it would need to be around here somewhere, but the alarmist in me now suspects extremists of some sort have detonated some kind of time vortex under my orbital platform.

Nothing really interesting to report, otherwise.  The western front is quiet, but busy, you grok?

Here are some tunes I’ve managed to listen to (and enjoy) lately, courtesy of me entering this millennium and finally setting up a media extender in the living room.  Some of the tunes are newer; some of it’s older stuff I’m digging all over again. Given the presence of some ’8-bit nerdcore dubstep’, I guarantee that the following is at least a touch eclectic if nothing else.

DJ Food – The Crow

 

The Darkness – I Believe in a Thing Called Love

 

Neon Neon – Belfast

 

YTCracker – The Link

 

Merriman Weir – Gallowsman (From Man To Man With Dean Learner, sequel to the excellent 80s horror spoof show Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace)

 

Party Ben – Another One Bites Da Funk (Daft Punk vs Queen)

 

IAM - L’Empire du Côté Obscur

One of the coolest things about Australian elections is that you don’t throw your vote away pitching your lot in with a minor party.  You order the candidates as you prefer; once the votes are tallied, if no candidate has 50% of the vote then everyone who voted for the least-voted-for candidate has all of their second preference votes cast, and so on until the magic 50% mark is hit.

Mathematical!

One of the lamest things about Australian elections is having to number all of the senate candidates for your state in order of preference.  Last time out I had sixty-odd names to order and boned my ballot paper twice because I was being very clever about putting the nutjobs at the bottom, the anti-bozos at the top and was working my way from both sides towards the middle when I hit numeric snags in the shape of duplicates. You can, of course, just pick one party and use their preferences (known as ‘voting above the line’) but then you’re kind of throwing your democratic rights out the window.

This time around, I’m prepared!  There are two websites which let you use a web interface to order the candidates at your leisure and print out a guide to take to the polling booth with you.

http://belowtheline.cc/

http://www.belowtheline.org.au/

Now there’s no reason to not do things the hard way. Use these tools to lodge a proper protest vote and tell the big parties they all stink! Or don’t – that’s the beauty of democracy.

Oh, speaking of elections:

Arcadia (AKA Duran Duran) – Election Day

With the Australian federal elections coming up, everyone might have to endure a bit of tunnelvision on my behalf until the whole thing is over (apologies to those of you elsewhere). Fellow Australians who value my company, you’d better hope that the crypto-fascist otherwise known as Tony Abbott doesn’t get in, otherwise I’m moving to Sweden.

I think the Internet is starting to shape the election landscape in Australia. I’m going to use that clever little revelation of mine to kick off a discussion of the technology, then selfishly segué into an assassination of a party I despise.

Enough people now see the internet as a valid broadcast medium; it’s a cheap and massively accessible medium at that. This is helping some of the fringe parties flourish as disillusioned voters gain access to information about options other than the big two (or the Greens). As far as I can tell, the big parties have ceased working to advance society and improve our standard of living – they are essentially massive self-serving corporate entities whose job it is is to see themselves re-elected again and again.

On Monday two of the smaller parties, riding this new wave of voter enlightenment, were offered a chance to participate in an informal debate on Channel 7′s morning show, Sunrise. The Australian Sex Party, a civil liberties party, and Family First, an uber-conservative religious party, went head-to-head in a debate that was a gazillion times more interesting than the ‘proper’ debate between Labor and the Liberals. Fiona Patten, leader of the Sex Party, embarrassed the pants off Family First’s Queensland senate hopeful Wendy Francis. During the debate, Fiona was level-headed, well spoken, brought real facts to the table and explained her party’s well thought-out platform; Wendy francis, on the other hand, had little more than schoolyard insults, poor manners and an amazingly large bag of ignorance at her side.

This is the point at which I shift gears from mostly level-headed discourse to spout vulgarities as I dissect some of the finer moments of the debate. I’m probably going to offend someone, but as they say: you gotta break a few eggs to make a Rigellian star-condor omelette.

Warning: I’m not going to be kind, now. I am going to drop some poingant science at the end of this post, though, so read on.

Viper Pilot’s Sex Party vs Family First debate notes and highlights:

The debate begins with Wendy Francis bangs on about taking ‘sex’ off certain billboards (to those of you outside Oz, this relates specifically to a company providing erectile disfunction treatment which was told to take down billboards that had the words ‘Want longer lasting sex?’ and nothing else other than contact details on them), because she’s embarrassed about having to have serious conversations with her children.

I can just see Wendy now, in the passenger seat of the minivan (because husband won’t let her drive if he’s in the car, I presume), cowed into catatonic fright when her darling children ask what ‘sex’ means. Either that or she’s got secret Tourette’s, and she worries constantly that she’ll yell “DADDY RAMS COCK INTO MOMMY’S VAJAYJAY.” to her children some day. Seriously, there are ways to handle that conversation without anyone being sexualized, tormented or grossed out.

Dear Wendy: Just because you’re too much of a simple-minded cow to field the answer like a good parent would does not make censorship okay.

Fiona, on the same issue: “That’s part of a free society: we all don’t have to agree with everything that’s out there.” She’s awesome.

Wendy then, completely off-topic, hijacks the proceedings and accuses The Sex Party of being an arm of the adult entertainment industry. First up, Wendy shows a lack of politeness and respect in the interruption, but she also displays how reactionary her and her kind are that she’d made her mind up about the party based solely on one word. Dear Wendy: ‘civil liberties party’ does not equal ‘dirty nasty sex tape lobby’, you stupid bowl of dick.

The next topic they hit is a royal commission into child abuse in the church. Not surprisingly, Wendy stumbles at a response to that. Grabbing at straws, she agrees that it’s a good idea on the grounds that the inquiry be extended to the sex industry as well. Fiona, calm in the face of the complete loon she’s facing, brings out statistics (something that Wendy, no doubt, has trouble understanding because of all the numbers): 1000 cases of child abuse in the church, while not one in the sex industry. Dear Wendy: do some research before appearing on national TV. Seriously, you should have learned how to look shit up in grade school, assuming whatever Church-run institution you attended valued the ability of girls to learn things other than cooking and sewing.

The next highlight for me is Fiona laying down her patronising voice on the mental midget she’s facing off against: “Child pornography is already illegal, Wendy.” Fiona scores points for resisting the urge to tack a bit of ‘Duuuuuuh’ in there.

Okay, more explanation for the out of towners, this time on the internet filter. The current Australian government is planning on creating a secret blacklist of sites that will be filtered out at the ISP level, and the government plans on keeping the blacklist’s contents secret. Wendy, again, shows how poorly equipped she is to contest an election or drive policy (let alone drive the microbus ferrying the corpses that vote for her party from the retirement village to the polling station), by requiring that Fiona explain to her the government’s proposed policy ON FUCKING AIR. Holy shit!

Holy shit!

It was a pretty simple plan, but Channel 7 did well in both choosing two parties so diametrically opposed and then delivering them topics guaranteed to start a fight. Next up: gay marriage!

“Why would we change something that’s been around forever?” asks Wendy, bleating out once again some words likely placed in her brain by her handlers. Sweet motherfucking monkeys, I wonder what Wendy thinks about abolishing slavery? If you ask Wikipedia, both marriage and slavery predate written history. That’s a metric assload of years ago. Then, one day, someone  had a think about it and decided that it maybe wasn’t quite so hot for some humans to not have the same basic rights as the rest of us. And then, shock horror, we changed something that had been around forever.

The more I think about it, I think this means that Wendy actually may be pro-slavery, since ‘keeping things they way they were’ is as far as I can tell a very core (some would say obsessively so) value for her.

Fiona again kicks some ass, deflecting yet another attack at the ‘clandestine high council of pornographers’ that are secretly running her party: <speaking to a child voice> ‘Wendy, the adult industry has no interest in marriage.” </speaking to a child>

I can’t even begin to describe how befuddled Wendy was at the idea of separating, for the purposes of taxation, charitable work done by churches and non-charitable work done by churches. Either she couldn’t figure out a way to come up with an intelligent response and so turtled, or she was genuinely too dim to understand the concept despite several attempts by Fiona to describe the process in small and easy to understand words.

Wendy, proudly: “I think it’s a free society”. Erk, do you? What? You’ve failed to advertise any notion that you value individual freedom so far, and don’t look like you’re going to do so anytime soon. Are you paying attention to what you’re saying? I suspect you’re not. Just a guess, but I suspect you haven’t the CPU cycles to multitask both saying things and thinking about the things you’re saying. Just a guess, though.

Last comment, this time on preferences (Outside Australia? You’re on your own to go Google how elections here work here because it’s a lot to absorb): Family First put the ultra-racist One Nation party and the imaginatively named The Climate Skeptics above Labor and the Greens as well as the Sex Party. Fucked up.

I hardly suspect that many, if any, of the people who stumble upon this blog are would-be Family First voters. In case, somehow, you are, or you’re considering it, and you somehow also made it to the bottom of this dispatch, consider these closing thoughts:

If Wendy Patton is the best that family First can muster to represent them, you ought really be afraid of that pack of medieval fuckwads. On national TV, she had no qualms about fabricating claims, she brazenly lied on multiple occasions, she was rude throughout the debate and more than once displayed a complete ignorance of topics she needs to be aware of to represent her electorate. It’s not like Channel 7 blindsided her with the questions: they’re all big ticket items that have been in the news leading up to the election or, even worse, are priorities in her own party’s platform!

The question is, does anyone really want someone who is going to lie, concoct statements based on conjecture, wallow in ignorance on important issues and who demonstrates a lack of decency and social graces by yelling and interrupting – all on national TV no less – to be the person elected as their mouthpiece, their representative, their stand-in to direct the government on their behalf? If she’s like this with the cameras running, what’s she like in private?

The fact that she was selected by her party to be their face to so many people, and must therefore be vaguely something like an examplar for them, displays what a truly horrible sample of humanity she and her friends are.

Did you just say home-made 8-bit synthesizer? Yes you did? Win!

Hey there, if you buy a 3D TV, you’re only encouraging them to develop more retarded innovations in home theatre that nobody really needs.

A Pack of Losers
Super-Loser Home Fun Time, Now With Gay Dolphins

What do I want? What should we all have? I’ll tell you what, it’s not some retarded 3D TV that I have to wear fucking goggles to watch. Even worse, I wear the dumbass goggles and my reward is a magic dolphin in my living room? Fail, electronics giants. Fail.

What do I want in the TV of the future? I want a TV so thin and cheap I can use it for wallpaper! You’re wasting valuable R&D time on GOGGLES. Fuck, did I say TV of the future? I should have this shit before the end of the decade!

The Future
Here’s What 2019 is Supposed to Look Like

I want a goddamned flying car, not a 3D TV. Stop inventing crap I don’t want and then marketing the shit out of it to try and tell me I do want it. It’s not going to work. Seriously, it’s bad enough that the dental hygiene industry invents a new threat every six months to make me buy sonic floss or a new plaque scraper for the roof of my mouth, and their products cost a fraction of the cost of a 3D TV.

Put down the goggles and back away. Trust me.

If the video seems dry, just hang on ’till the 1:20 mark. I swear, your mind will be subjected to a powerfully strange new reality.

I watched Tron on the weekend. Good gravy, that movie still hauls ass. Yeah, the real-world fashion is pretty tragic, but the film is from that strange time between the end of the 70s and before the 80s really turned into the hideous monster that it became by ’85, after all. The art design is still, 30 years on, mindblowing. Lightcycles, vast city-like datascapes, freaky neon costuming and thoroughly imaginative set design (the command centre of a recognizer? ZOMG).

And, of course, Wendy Carlos’ visionary soundtrack.  And thus I segue clumsily to today’s actual subject…

Data visualisation is awesome. Data visualisation about musical artists and the labyrinthine interconnections between them is, as it turns out, kind of neat.

Flared Music lets you plug in an artist’s name and then you can sit back and watch the web of collaborations and production tie-ins unravel before your eyes. It pulls data from the BBC’s Musicbrainz database and renders it onscreen.  It doesn’t take too much clicking around to end up with a giant, glorious tangle of names.

Wendy Carlos’ web above doesn’t appear that full.  Wendy must have been something of a loner; plug in, say, Jean-Jacques Perrey, who’s been recording music for just as long as Carlos and you get a constantly-growing screen full of wow.

In fact, it gets me a lot more than that – I captured that image early on in the generation of the Perrey-web.  The guy’s been recording music (and collaborating on music!) for a long time, and if you let it go the sprawling mass of connections gets effing massive.

Anyhow, go have a play. I had thought of something else clever to say, but the older child made me forget when he ran around the house with a box on his head, shouting “Tycho-robot!”

Viper Pilot Audio

Looking for music by Viper Pilot? This blog is the current home of Viper Pilot's Munition Works, where he stores all of his mashes and mixes.

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