Wednesday, February 14, 2018

evolution engineering?



from the video :
"Creating some blue pigment out of the blue should have required inventing new chemistry and there was no way to just add that recipe to their genes. It was much easier for evolution to change the shape of their bodies ever so slightly at the microscopic level and create blue using physics instead. They solved a biology problem with engineering. "
Didn't they solve a biology problem with biology? Was it even a problem? Engineering is the application of knowledge to the design of something. Engineering isn't the best word to describe a mutation that continues due to natural selection by the collective result of the unorganized actions of multitudes of the birds in questions and predators of those birds.
One of my pet peeves is people ascribing agency to evolution as if evolution has a master plan (while sitting on a cloud with a lightning bolt in hand). 

Pictured : Evolution sitting on his throne in the clouds with lightning bolts in one hand considering how to engineer blue for the bird's feathers.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

movie notes : Creation (2009)



The blurb :
Paul Bettany stars as Charles Darwin in this BBC biographical drama that captures the legendary scientist in a period of intense mourning -- and expansive intellectual discovery -- following the untimely death of his young daughter, Annie. As Darwin dares to question the existence of God, he pens his groundbreaking tome, On the Origin of Species -- much to the chagrin of his religious wife, Emma (Jennifer Connelly).

On one hand, the movie has Jennifer Connelly but on the other hand it has so much melodrama. Sure Jennifer Connelly is nice to look at but that isn't enough to carry a movie. Frankly I thought it was boring. There were a few good scenes but also a fair amount of pretension. It seems they spent a surprising amount of money on special effects.

There is a character connection between Darwin and his daughter Annie but the 3 other children are props. Darwin and Emma (Jennifer Connelly) are basically strangers sharing the screen. In one of the bonus features it is noted that Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly are actually married.  The science and the religious consequences were simple backgrounds for the personal drama. I think it was a terrible movie mostly because my expectations of what it would be were so far off from what was delivered.

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There seems to be a specific genre of film where they take science and scientist and essentially ignore the science except for some jargon to set a scene and instead focus on a personal melodrama of the scientist.  I think this misses the point. The science should be the focus and the argument and discovery and the ramifications should be the drama. A partial list :

Creation (2009)
The Imitation Game (2014) with Keira Knightley & Benedict Cumberbatch
Man Who Knew Infinity (2016) with Dev Patel & Jeremy Irons

"Based on a true story" but often instead of the hard science parts that can be verified and discoveries charted the "based on a true story" veneer gets stuck on the human drama where almost all of the dialog is lost to history and a writer has to make it all up.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Elissa Strauss of CNN is an idiot

I'm embarrassed on CNN's behalf for this article they published (and I assume they paid money to publish). The article is basically the author reading web forum, quoting from it and then offering her own opinion. I would guess it is clickbait in the form of "Hey, look at this dumb pile of words! That can't be real can it? (click)"

The article, filed under health for some reason as opposed to mindless wanking, is titled : "Why kids love 'fascist' cartoons like 'Paw Patrol' and 'Thomas'"
Among these cartoons' many critics exists a subgroup of parents who are OK with some degree of autocracy and Manichean dualistic politics but just wish they would be presented with more nuance.
Manichean means everything is either black or white which they're ok with if it has more nuance so everything isn't either black or white.

Bonus dumbness from the story highlights bulletpoints :
"Thomas the Tank Engine" and "Paw Patrol" have been eviscerated by the press and on social media 
By which the author means by almost nobody.

Second bonus dumbness :
Here's an idea, gratis, for the creative team behind of "Paw Patrol" and "Thomas," should they want to broaden their appeal to parents without alienating their fan base: Ryder and Sir Topham Hatt retire and are replaced by their equally domineering sisters. This, in turn, boosts the social status of all the non-male characters. Children would still get the satisfaction of immersing themselves in an orderly universe where rules are rules, and everyone is in his or her place. Just without the white guy on top.
Just to be clear, Elissa Strauss is A-OK with what she describes as fascist if it isn't a white guy on top.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Ancient Sumerian part 2



I had previously and quite briefly looked at the ancient Sumerian language.

Those Sumerians had some peculiar religious beliefs. How odd that they would worship the cat from the Mr Bean cartoon.
Right there below the tail

I suppose it could be a star which would fit with its also meaning the heavens. 

Or an asterisk which would have the odd effect of suggesting that a foot note is a call out to god. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

How Orwellian : David Horsey is an idiot


from an article by David Horsey since pulled due to hyperventilating about the wrong insult :
Sarah Huckabee Sanders does not look like the kind of woman Donald Trump would choose as his chief spokesperson. Much like Roger Ailes when he was stocking the Fox News lineup with blond Barbie dolls in short, tight skirts, the president has generally exhibited a preference for sleek beauties with long legs and stiletto heels to represent his interests and act as his arm candy.
Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wife Melania are the apotheosis of this type. By comparison, Sanders looks more like a slightly chunky soccer mom who organizes snacks for the kids’ games. Rather than the fake eyelashes and formal dresses she puts on for news briefings, Sanders seems as if she’d be more comfortable in sweats and running shoes. Yet, even if Trump privately wishes he had a supermodel for a press secretary, he is lucky to have Sanders.

I'm not offended by the incredibly mild insult of calling her a "slightly chunky soccer mom" because I don't think "soccer mom" should be an insult and "slightly chunky" is hardly the worst insult hurled in politics.

I'm offended at the stupid premise that David Horsey suggests Trump wouldn't choose her and that using David Horsey's imagined telepathic abilities he knows Trump privately wishes he had a supermodel for press secretary while, in fact and contrary to David Horsey's suggestions of what Trump would do, Trump did make her his press secretary.

It turns out the for some people they are so convinced they know someone else's inner mind and what a bastard they are and they won't let reality intrude on that fantasy. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Word of the Day : Wiener



In German, the Austrian city of Vienna in called Wien.

So demonym of the Viennese should be Wieners. For example, when Adolf Hitler lived in Vienna trying to be an artist he didn't make a big name for himself, in fact, he was a little, unimportant, failed Wiener.