Did Bastille Have a Lapse or an Inspiration

I love the album Bad Blood by the new band Bastille. It’s definitely retro. To me each song sounds like an eighties hit. But whereas those old eighties bands would have maybe one or two hits on their album, Bastille has produced a good album from start to finish.

No my trouble is not with this album. But I bought the double CD complete set. My problem is with the very first song on the second album – Poet.

Dan Smith is the creative force who writes the vast majority of Bastille songs. Indeed, although he is British, his birthday is on Bastille Day which is where the name of the band comes from. But the first time through, reading and listening to the words of Poet, I immediately disliked it.

My problem can be encapsulated by the line, “I have written you down now you will live forever”. I will never agree with this line.

I think the problem is that Mr. Smith is still young and might very well believe his words. Writing down the character of a person could indeed make them relevant years later, but forever is a really, really, really long time. Most cultural vehicles don’t make it past the generation they are a part of. Even some really famous culture won’t make it any further into time than their own generation’s lives. Oh yes there are outliers that do, but if we look at the long term, say a millennium, few words will be relevant to these future dwellers.

I can see something surviving,say the incredibly deductive detective Sherlock Holmes. Or maybe someone represents the culture of our times so thoroughly that they, too, are spared from the trash heap. But someone a thousand years in the future is going to know a lot more about the year 3000 than the year 2000. It is what it is, I don’t think most characters and people will last all that long if they are in a poem.

But what if Dan Smith is not naive? What if this is just his way of picking up sexual partners? “I could write you down and then you would live forever, “ he might say. Then the partner would swoon and Mr. Smith would get what he wanted.

I can write, too, so not to be outdone by young Smith, I should try this method to pick up members of the opposite sex. Of course being older makes me more efficient. Instead of bothering with a full character illustration, I will try a name intensive method of writing. I’m thinking about the begat parts of the bible. Something like this:

Tori dumped me when I took up farting in her presence which begat Trina who I dumped because she couldn’t stop and smell the flowers which begat Iris who begat Ella (no, Iris wasn’t Ella’s mother) who begat Cindi who begat… you get the picture.

If Poet suddenly becomes my favourite song, you’ll know why and wonder where my page of “begats” is.

Posted in Humour, Language, Music, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mmmm Zombies

Zombies have us terrified with their brain eating ways. But we are humans. We always turn the tables on the predator no matter how fearsome they might be. Since zombies are much like us, I think that we must turn to eating zombies to spread enough fear among their kind.

Not only will we terrify them, I think we will have a real win if we take to eating zombies. Allow me to explain.

First of all we will arm ourselves with flame throwers to not only kill the zombies but to also cook their delicious flesh. Only after succeeding in this endeavour will we actually eat them.

We will then, some hours later, defecate the zombie remains and bury it six feet under. Perhaps the remains will spontaneously rise, sometime later. If not, we can say some incantations to make the zombies rise again.

Of course we will still be armed with the flame thrower and will cook that zombie, once it rises again, into a meal for homo sapiens.

I’ve done the calculations. Zombie meat is the greenest of all foods. By that I mean it is the most ecologically friendly of all food. By eating the same zombie again and again, we will leave the smallest carbon footprint possible.

Indeed, this is almost as efficient as the water recycling methods developed for space travel and the space station. Combined with water recycling, zombie eating will help us conquer space.

Naysayers might say that having six feet of ground in space is expensive. But I say, not only is it used for its zombie recycling properties, but six feet of ground also can act as a good shield against radiation in space.

Many years from now some may ask how zombies ended up colonizing space. Future generations will point to this very paper and say that this is how. You are welcome, future generations.

Posted in Humour, Pseudo Science, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death Watch 2025: The Americans

Of all the developed nations of the Earth, the US has the largest population. Of all the second round Mars One applicants, the US has the most. So it was with some surprise that I found this article interviewing some of the applicants. This was the only interview I found on the internet and it only interviewed four people.

First up was comedian Lauren Reeves. In her video application she is obviously playing obtuse for humour purposes and thus gives no indication that she does or doesn’t understand anything. So I can’t fault her.

David King and Brent Bos give short interviews that I also didn’t find fault with.

George Hatcher mentions that no ISS astronaut is bored. I think this is flawed reasoning when applied to the Mars One’s six month flight in very cramped quarters. You could give them busy work but too much stress for too much time is as dangerous psychologically as boredom. Pointless busy work runs the risks of both camps. The mission has bigger psychological hurdles than the space station.

And that is all I find wrong with the American candidates. I found more fault with the Canadian interviews of last time. As a Canadian this shocks me. We rely on Americans to say 9 times as many stupid things as we say because they have 9 times our population. This makes us feel superior as indicated by Rick Mercer’s ‘Talking to Americans’ specials. I am at a total loss of what to do when the US takes our strategy and just lists less information than we do.

If the usual Canadian strategies fail, we never fail to stick our noses up in the air and say ‘We’re more European’. But this fails badly when the interviewees from France and Britain are even more fault friendly than the Canadian representatives.

So I’ll let the smug Americans end this post with a link to a video of Lauren Reeves’ attitude juxtaposed against her more serious fellow applicants to Mars One.

Posted in Humour, Science, Wry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Thing All the SF Hollow Earths Get Wrong

Hollow Earths have been a part of science fiction ever since Jules Verne penned Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Edgar Rice Burroughs followed with his Pelucidar and Mike Grell’s comic series The Warlord occurred in a hollow earth, too. There may be other hollow earth stories I am unaware of. Regardless they all have one trait wrong. There is always normal gravity in the hollow earths, directed outwards to the closest part of the shell. This is simply wrong.

Inside a hollow sphere of homogeneous mass, there is always no gravity. Newton proved this long ago (go down for the inside the shell proof). Or at least the gravity all cancels out. Lets imagine an expedition’s descent from the outer side of the hollow sphere to the inner part of that sphere. As the descent begins the expedition finds that there is less and less gravitational force on its members.

Indeed as the expedition leader reaches the inner side of the sphere he will of course leap up from the inside of the hollow sphere in sheer jubilation. The weightless environment will not stop his motion. He will fly up, for days, straight into the mini star that exists at the centre of the earth which gives the whole interior light.

Not understanding Newton’s law of gravity, it is also likely that the expedition member will not understand Newton’s third law of motion and be able to avoid the upcoming collision.

Like Icarus he will fly too close to the “sun”. But the expedition member won’t stop at wax melting temperatures. Instead he will burn up and die before he hits the sun. But that won’t be all.

The “sun” will not be fixed in any way to the centre of the earth so the collision with the expedition member’s dead body will set the central “sun” adrift. Slowly it will move out of position. Perhaps when it collides with the shell that first time, it could be the cause of some earthquakes and volcanic activity on the surface of the earth. It will easily destroy any life on the inner shell where it collides. But it will rebound for another collision and another.

But the brave expedition members will try to undo the harm they have caused. Eventually they will set up cannons and mortars to control the “sun’s” wild ride. Eventually they will have reestablished the “sun” at the centre of the earth.

Finally the expedition will bear fruit. Who doesn’t want to live in weightlessness? Tiny wings would be enough to propel a man easily through the air. This, then, is my hollow earth. A weightless, tropical, lush world where it is always high noon. That is until another idiot dislodges the “sun” again.

Posted in Geography, Humour, Science, Science Fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Doctors Over Lawyers

In Canada the length of copyright term for an author is the life of the author plus 50 years. I am going to assume this is the same term if the author sells the copyright to a corporation.

If that is the case, I would like to see a blanket ban on changing the copyright law. Now why would I be so dictatorial? Well you see I plan on becoming a professional author and having books published with my copyright. I of course plan to sell out as soon as possible to a corporation.

Without being able to spend a dime on copyright law in order to expand it, the ever greedy corporation would then look to other ways to expand the copyright and thus make money out of nothing.

The very first thing they would think of would be setting conditions on myself, the living author. Perhaps they would tell me never to sky dive or do any risky activity. But to enforce this, they would have to change current copyright law. So they’ll have to look deeper.

As a thought experiment, let’s say J. K. Rowling is Canadian and has an increased risk of breast cancer due to family history. It would be simply prudent for a corporation that controls her copyright to point out to her that the increased risk might be in her genes as was the case with Angelina Jolie. The prudent corporation would pay for the genetic test to be done. That is the gateway. If Rowling had the same gene, the corporation could offer to pay for a double mastectomy or any other preemptive surgeries.

The gateway is important. Other fatality causing illnesses in the successful copyright author’s family might not offer such neat solutions. Instead, the prudent corporation might begin spending research dollars to attempt to give longer lives to its authors. Doctors and PhDs would get some of the copyright money instead of lawyers. This would also benefit Jane Q. Public if some of the research paid off. This would give a positive benefit for copyright law.

As well, the copyright owning corporation might also start funding “ignorant time travel” schemes. You know, plans for human hibernation, suspended animation or cryogenics where the ability to not age for some years while the author is still alive and capable of being revived. Sure the corporation may have to do some talking like, “As a best selling author, you would be the most likely to be able to withstand future shock.” Some authors may choose to take that route. After all the high tech of today is laughable by the standards of the future. That might be incentive enough.

We might even be able to get interstellar travel out of this. Let’s just tell the corporations that going very close to the speed of light results in time being slowed down for the author. After their return, 100 years may have passed on Earth but the author will have only aged a few months.

With big corporations jostling to extend my life, I would be a fool to consider any other option than becoming a copyrighted author. And even if my life isn’t extended meaningfully I might have a great adventure through suspended animation or an interstellar trip. We are fools to look at lawyers as the only way for corporations to make more money off copyright.

Posted in Humour, Politics, Science, Science Fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time Gambling

My jurisdiction of Ontario allows gambling not only via lottery tickets but with casinos. Largely the province has bet that this will produce extra money in its coffers. Perhaps it can do more good than the bad that gambling can produce.

Because there are problem gamblers, so much money has been set aside to help these people. I encountered that spending in a bus advertisement yesterday. The ad largely promoted a website, safeorsorry.ca . To coerce people to visit the site, it offered up chances at prizes for those that visited the site and took the quiz.

I couldn’t decide whether this tack was stupid or brilliant. Offering up chances of prizes for your time of learning what responsible gambling was like seemed counter productive. But the lure would almost certainly work on the problem gamblers it was trying to bait.

So I went to the site and I took the quiz.

Firstly I didn’t know how to use the site. I clicked repeatedly on the answer to the first question but nothing happened. I then looked more carefully at the instructions. Of course, you were supposed to “scratch” off the answer like with a scratch and win ticket. I then proceeded through the set of about five questions.

I was then dismayed that after getting all the questions right, the quiz told me I was not eligible for the prizes because I didn’t do this during one of the time windows. Unable to gamble I was of course angry. I had put in the time, shouldn’t I have a chance at the prizes? I looked at the windows. One went until March 16th. It was only then that I realized it said March 16th, 2013.

Curse you Grand River Transit for posting a year old ad! I’ve been conned. There’s nothing for it now. All those wonderful casinos are out of town. I’ll have to buy a lottery ticket for my gambling fix. Wait, now that I’m a “cyber scratcher” perhaps I should buy some scratch and wins. I feel lucky.

Posted in Humour, Mathematics, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cursive Code

In order to make room for other allegedly more important things in the primary grades, it has been suggested that cursive, or the universal handwriting system of the Roman alphabet, should no longer be taught in our schools.

Some doomsayers have asked what then would someone base their signature on? If not cursive, there might not be any true options, so people would have to identify themselves by other means. I’m not so worried about this as I’ve heard various security people saying that the signature is expensive to maintain as authorization and is easily fooled.

I say let’s revel in that cursive free world.

Remember that list of new words that gets trotted out every decade or so as the new slang of a new generation that wants to keep things from older people? Or those graffiti taggers who try to say things in their own code so only they and their young friends will know what they are talking about. I say there is no need for new investigations every so often. Older people just need to have a code of their own to keep young people out of the loop. Cursive is a good candidate for this.

I know I had a hard time reading handwriting until I learned cursive. I couldn’t see through it’s hidden agenda to largely make printed letters into one flowing line for an entire word. But I was very young when I learned cursive. A thirteen year old would likely see through this trick with some study. Especially after translating various fonts of printing for most of their lives.

We should make cursive writing more opaque. So I suggest we firstly get rid of the capital letters of cursive. Those largely make it more obvious that we are speaking in a code a thirteen year old could easily break.

I would also suggest we get rid of the obvious crosses of the letters t and x, as well as the dots of i and j. This will creat confusion between t and l, i and e, and x and n. But with careful cursive the discerning reader will be able to tell all the letters apart. Below I have written the words little, title, jinx and Texas using these points. Notice that they will probably slow down your reading speed but you can still identify the letters.

cursivecode

So what can we do with cursive code? Why everything that the young generation tries to hide from adults.

As well, some parents already publicly shame their kids as punishments. Like holding up signs in public outlining their transgressions. Psychologists generally frown on this and think it can damage a young person’s self esteem and sense of well being. With cursive, the parent can graffiti a wall near home – outing their kid to all the older people. The kid will never know they’ve been outed.

Cursive could serve as a secret society maker. Only the kids smart enough to read it by eventually seeing the letters or those using a straight forward substitution code would be able to interpret it. We could let those kids in on the secret. So we could keep the secret permanently. It might be the best working secret society ever. (Largely because I’d be included. For the record secret societies I am not a member of are bad and secret societies that I am a member of are good.)

Every new generation of children tries to outsmart their parents by their use of language. Finally we adults could strike back, by just not teaching children cursive.

(Added March 10, 2014) Postscript: A secret society like this might have already existed. The lost art of shorthand was used by secretaries to get down all the words the boss said as he said them. This occurred before tape recorders were everywhere. I believe that the secret society shorthand spawned was responsible for creating Secretaries Day. As well, the secret society is probably also responsible for the upgrade in name from secretary to executive assistant. Remember you can’t spell secretary without secret.

Posted in Humour, Language | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

F U Floyd

I apologize profusely for that title if your name actually is Floyd. I mean it for someone whose last name is Floyd and whose first name is Pink. That’s right, Pink Floyd, I mean you.

I think you’ll need some back story to find out why I am taking this stance with Pink Floyd. You see I am a larger Yes fan than a Pink Floyd fan.

Back in the late sixties and early seventies it was apparent that rock music was seeking out longer forms of expression. Being on the cutting edge, Yes was by far the band that doubled down the most on this trend. And today they have 9 songs between 18 and 24 minutes in length, two 15 minute songs and so many songs between 7 and 12 minutes in length that they are just too many for me to count.

Pink Floyd dabbled in the lengthy song thing. And then, seizing an opening they claimed a title from Yes. They put out the song Echoes, which is a 23 minute 31 second long song, which approached the absolute most you could have on one vinyl album side without losing sound quality. So Yes let it slide for many a decade. Pink Floyd had the longest song of the prog rock movement.

So the Yes that spoke in term of themes, which was their trick to producing so many fine long format songs, did not have the title. Compact disks entered the playground and could fit a song as long as seventy minutes on it. Indeed, there had been a classical song that was so long it needed almost all of that seventy minutes to be recorded properly.

But back to popular music. During those years of the compact disk’s supremacy, shorter more popularly palatable songs were the vogue. I don’t think that anyone in any rock/pop field exceeded the length of Echoes in their songs.

And here we are in our present day with the tyranny of the vinyl record raising its head again. Vinyl is back and most popular acts want to stay acceptable to that format. So 24 minutes seems to be the very longest that rock and pop will allow for any of its songs. And 2 years ago Yes upped the ante.

Yes put out an album with the Fly From Here suite which encompasses the Fly From Here Overture and Fly From Here parts I to V. This suite clocks in at 23 minutes and 56 seconds.

Now I know that it technically doesn’t say on the album that Fly From Here is one song. But can you imagine Yes’ trepidation? They don’t want to start waving red cloths in front of Pink Floyd. Or the result might be some stretched out, craptastic 24 minute long song that sours the public on long songs forever more.

So Yes claims the title of longest pop/rock song, now. It is here that I wish to reiterate the title.

(If there are actual rock/pop songs longer than the pieces mentioned, I wouldn’t mind hearing about them. The era of compact disk supremacy was about two decades and any champion could be far longer.)

Posted in Music, Wee Bit O' Humour, Wry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reverse Sexism in Top Strata of Society

A few days ago I listened to the song Princess of China by Coldplay featuring Rihanna. In all my previous listenings of this song I had missed something obvious. At least it was obvious to my modern sensibilities about sexism.

In the song, Rihanna sings, “I could’ve been a princess, you’d be a king.” Although Chris Martin (Coldplay’s singer and the other voice on this song) is older than Rihanna, it’s not a big stretch to think of them as peers and not in an intergenerational relationship for the song. In other words, making Chris Martin a king while Rihanna stays a princess and does not graduate to queen, seems unfair and sexist.

But then I thought back to my own country’s leader, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip. That’s right, not only does Prince Philip have little power, symbolic or otherwise,but also for the rest of his life he will never rank higher than prince. That is blatant reverse sexism at work. And elitism – Queen Elizabeth’s family always has primacy.

But does anyone question this reverse sexism? No one that I have heard of. You know, the rabble isn’t completely stupid – we could handle the idea of King Philip not being the leader. We know who wears the biggest crown in that family.

So Queen Elizabeth II, while you were stamping out sexism in your great grand daughter/son’s life, perhaps you could have taken a peek into your own relationship with power. Before making sure your great grandbaby would lead the UK and some of the commonwealth as either a boy or girl, you could have looked at your own husband.

That man across the room, yeah, your life partner, is only a prince. I sometimes think it a bit silly that Charles, at his age is only a prince, but you can’t be blamed for that, I know you want to live forever. If calling Charles a prince sounds ridiculous, it’s a full blown comedy movie of ridiculousness for Philip to be called a prince.

So Queen Elizabeth II, can you see your way into giving your, husband, Prince Philip, the dignity of being a king? Stamp out this reverse sexism now. Equal rights for Philip!

Posted in Humour, Music, Politics, Wee Bit O' Humour, Wry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death Watch 2025: The Canadians

Let me first explain that I am shocked that I am able to find holes in the majority of the Mars One potential astronauts’ brief interviews. It’s true that one of my best debating tricks is to let the other side speak until they say something that I can hang them with. But this usually takes patience and a long time. These would be astronauts are largely unaware that they are sticking their feet in their mouths so quickly and easily. This is an important part of their character – to me, they are incapable of seeing the danger they are putting themselves in.

One of the main reasons that I am bothering with this “Death Watch” thing is that I don’t want to see family or friends volunteering to go on one of these missions and thus dying prematurely. Do I think I am going to stop the Mars One missions? Probably not. And, as a critic, I am largely making the mission sound more dangerous and thus exciting which is going to make the sale of any reality show both easier and giving them bullet points for promotion. Some people like watching a train wreck.

I believe there is a strong possibility Mars One will fall apart, all on its own. Raising 6 billion dollars, even with the biggest reality show of all time, is a large challenge, one that could kill them all on its own. Keeping costs under that 6 billion dollar mark, is very hard to do for something that has never been done before. Keeping on time with everything is challenging and like I said before they’ve already slipped a couple years in their prognostications.

But this post is being written to mock the Canadian would be Mars One astronauts. Let us proceed.

Edmontonian Christy Foley starts this off by having said, “Everyone dies on Earth. It’s boring. I would get to die on Mars. We’d probably live a lot longer on Mars than Earth, though. It’s a much healthier environment and there are no cars to run over you.”

She is guessing that Mars is safer than Earth. It’s just that on Mars you need to recycle and produce enough air, water and food – things that Earth produces on its own. I don’t think she has figured out the dangers between the two worlds properly. All the machines that the Mars colony will use will need to be working well at least for the rest of Foley’s life. A total breakdown of a machine and its backup redundancy might well kill the colonists.

I believe she is totally wrong about this risk assessment and should be scrubbed for any missions. Why? Simply because someone who is scared will probably do a better job of maintaining the machines that will keep the colonists alive.

The following is a quote from the linked article: “Torontonian Stephen Fenech, who’s single, says he may be overqualified for the Mars mission.”

Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t hear about the previous colonization of Mars. Or the colonization of the Moon. Or to be actually overqualified, the colonization of the surface of Venus.

Claude Gauthier says his wife has veto power over his going to the red planet. Wow. What a startling degree of commitment he shows to the Mars One mission. Shouldn’t the decision have been made before applying?

We will close with Marina Miral. She spouts a common folk wisdom that a lot of Earthlings seem to believe. They think there is nothing left to explore on Earth.

Does she think she’ll discover the grand canyon of Mars or a Niagara Falls? All those macro natural wonders have already been discovered by satellite mapping. The sort of discovering Marina might do on Mars will involve machines and scientific techniques. In other words, the methods of discovery that are still yielding results on Earth. There are still ways to explore on Earth, too.

So there you have it. Canadian potential astronauts for Mars One are just as flawed as the rest of the world’s would be colonists. I’ll try one more article about these astronauts – next time I’ll try to find flaws that the American candidates are spouting.

Posted in Science, Wry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment