Monday, May 17, 2010

Bacon Sandwich in hand vs. Logic

The web article Science, Reason, Critical Thinking, and Bacon Butties is an entertaining read. More importantly, it highlights how even those of us who try to lead lives according to values we've established through reason and critical thinking can fall short, especially when the smell of bacon hovers in the air like the promise of ambrosia.

I too "ate the bacon sandwich" for severals years after knowing the rational arguments why I shouldn't. But over time, eventually, I finally made the switch to a veggie lifestyle, with only a few falls from the wagon since.

On the other hand, I only did so because the argument took on an emotional component, one that appealed to my heart instead of my brain, or at least both in equal measure. So I'm afraid I still don't know that if in the face of a bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo sandwich, purely rational arguments alone would have finally swayed me.

Anyhow, upon reading the article, it looks like the author is going to come down like a hammer on people who refuse to accept overwhelming evidence (in the initial case, on evolution). But keep reading . . .

A snippet:
[...] I came across an anecdote about an educated, seemingly rational person who simply refused to accept Jerry’s overwhelming evidence for why evolution is true.

Living in a country where evolution is only a controversy amongst the hard lined religious fundamentalists, who do their best to stir up a controversy, it’s hard to understand why so many people can reject such solid science.

And so on.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Red Lines

So, check out the two red lines.

The one at the end of the hall is longer than the one in the foreground, right?

Wrong! Get a ruler and measure each one. On the computer screen, they are exactly the same length.

Yes, your brain is lying to you. Isn't that amazing?

For an explanation, check this out. The explanation by Phil Plait also describes the illusion of why the moon looks so huge on the horizon.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Space 2099

Here's what I'd do if I was given the job of coming up with a new treatment for Space 1999, a show that lives on in glorious nostalgia in my memory. No, I haven't seen an episode since I was eight. I don't see that as a problem, do you?

First off, the title. That's easy: "Space 2099." Note the clever timeline advance, given that we're well past 1999 and the Moon remains safely in orbit.

In my update to the 70's classic, the moon base still goes a-wandering. However, instead of being torn out of earth's orbit by a massive nuclear detonation (a nuclear blast that strong would obliterate any artificial structure on the Moon), and instead of being propelled by this blast to a series of other solar systems in a period months (a nuclear blast that strong . . . well, you get the idea), the moon base slips between parallel dimensions.

Whata? Here's the new backstory: The cosmologists have gone through a couple of generations of particle accelerators since the LHC. The newest version requires a mass in excess of 7.30 × 1022 kilograms in order to function. Turns out the Moon is slightly larger than that. You see where this is going? Yep, a moon base is built to oversee the operation of this newest generation atom-smasher. And everything goes swimmingly, until the fatal accident that destabilizes the moon, and sends it on a tour of wacky parallel earths.

This also helps explain why most of the "aliens" the scientists meet in any given episode are essentially humanoid in nature, if not completely human. This compatibility allows for a broad range of interesting stories. Not to worry, this doesn't mean that any given alternate earth can't be ruled by sentient, flesh-dissolving slime molds or something else very alien (even actual Earth-conquering aliens), but this way there's even a chance for romance to brew.

Which brings up the Maya character; in the original series she was a shape-shifter, and the breakout character as far as my eight-year-old self was concerned. In my 2099 treatment, Maya is not an alien per se, but a resident of an alternate earth. She joins the staff much like the character in the original series.

Indeed, if this were to be a mere one-shot movie instead of a series, I'd make Maya the central character, with the main plot of the story revolving around her and what her ability to shift shape really means.

It goes without saying the effects will be updated for the modern sensibility. If we can't afford Avatar in quality, I'm sure we can achieve at least Battlestar Galactica standards (the latest version).

And ... well, that's where we'll leave off for now.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Check out the sweet new wallet I got as a pre-birthday gift today: The Elysius Might Wallet. Made of recyclable paper, and is recycle-able in turn.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Professor Darkcoat Foiled

I dreamed I had hot sauce so hot it gave me acid burns on my lips. Oh yeah, and that my dog Hektor could drive a car. I think the dreams were of a piece--I had to allay Professor Darkcoat's suspicions about me. To do so, of course, I had to convince him I was the kind of person who would burn his lips with hot sauce that measured "psychotic" on the Scoville scale, while at the same time, being the kind of person smart enough to train his dog to drive a car, apparently.

Alright, enough messing around on the internet; time to hit the coal face of my next 1000 words. But, hey, I finished proofing Key of Stars! So on that point, I'm made of win.