Category Archives: Various and Sundry

Video

The Root of Many a Conspiracy Theory via Ramsey Theory

I still remember reading Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep with the idea of the “net of a million lies,” which we may well have already reached without the bonus of having an interstellar civilization. Instead, we have an absurd amount of people around the globe thinking they’re on a flat Earth.

I stumbled across this video that has a succinct explanation for a lot of conspiracy theories..

One of the concepts mentioned in the video above is one that I’m sure I’ve heard explained before, but I’m not sure I’ve heard the name: that being Ramsey Theory. Time and again, I hear science educators and others note that we humans, while clever enough to figure out mathematics, certainly enough to use statistics, individually get confused by the implications of said mathematics and statistics.

This led to another Ted Ed video that helps explain why so many people are so convinced by their faux insights: they simply don’t understand how much they don’t know.

May I always be aware of just how unaware I am of a great many things. Happy Monday!

Globetrotting – Radio Edition

I remember playing around with shortwave radio growing up in the previous millennium and the excitement at finding broadcasts from other countries.

Well, thanks to some enterprising folks over in the Netherlands, you can do some globetrotting yourself without leaving the comfort of your Internet browser. Radio Garden is a project that allows you to tune into all sorts of small radio stations all across the globe. Be warned, it can be a bit of a timesuck.

Enjoy!

Wanna Get Away from it All? NASA Edition

With the prospect of pandemic restrictions being lifted, thoughts of vacationing further afield have come to mind… but am I thinking far enough?

Thanks NASA.

See You Soon, Space Cowboy

It’s probably obvious that I’m a science fiction fan and, if you look at my own series, Rogue Tyger, a fan of the “crew on a ship and mayhem ensues” sci-fi sub-genre. And while it’s a very different show from what I’m trying to do, the landmark anime series Cowboy Bebop was and is a huge influence — and not just in terms of the title.

So, of course I’m going to check out the upcoming live-action version from Netflix and immediately checked out their opening credits teaser that dropped the other month:

Okay, exciting to see the transition to live-action. I fully expect things to change, but it feels a bit Adam West Batman at times. I mean, Cowboy Bebop is nothing if not style and you get a sense of style, but I still remember Disney’s Black Cauldron and the cute-ification of Gurgi. Don’t mess this up, folks.

So next, this drops.

On the one hand, this is an absolute blast. There’s a sense of play and meta-storytelling that tells you this isn’t your average show. On the other hand, even with the hint at Vicious, is this too wacky/silly? Maybe. I mean, part of the joy of Cowboy Bebop for me was not just the inventive worldbuilding and sense of style, but the fact that they could go from absurd and comical to serious quite quickly. Because even if the characters didn’t approach life somberly, it was a very serious solar system out there with things that could quickly kill you. And again, I get that something with the tone could change in going to live action, and it could be its own thing, but even so:

DON’T MESS THIS UP!

Finally, this drops:

Yeah. There we go. Many of the beats hit just right. Funny. Serious. Bizarre. That’s my Bebop right there.

Just don’t mess it up.

Space Race, ISS-Sequel Edition

I could say it’s the recent big-screen adaptation of Dune, but really any time is a good time to muse about the state of space exploration.

The Russian Zarya module approaches Space Shuttle Endeavour and NASA’s Unity module in 1998. (Photo via the article and NASA)

And the space race is evidently heating up in Earth’s orbit, as per Eric Berger’s article for Ars Technica. Several groups, both national and commercial, are looking to have a permanent station in orbit. Well permanent for a while, since nothing gold can stay, due to wear and tear and cosmic radiation. So the ISS will be gone soon.

And it seems to be not so much “what will replace it?” but “how many stations will replace it?”

Keep watching the skies!

The Wild Zebras… of Maryland

There’s several feature film ideas incubating in various corners of my brain from fanciful takes on family history to delving deeply into local history… and now I have another idea that anyone is welcome to take, but by gum I’ll have to write it if someone doesn’t: a tale about the wild zebras of Maryland.

via the article and Getty Images

That’s right. Zebras. Creatures more familiar to African savannas and grasslands have found that the state just below the Mason-Dixon line has grasslands that are just as welcoming. Is it the proximity to Washington, DC? The omnipresent Old Bay? Who knows? All I know is that zebras are almost in my neck of the woods as of this writing. The story possibilities are endless.

Oh, I won’t be constrained by the reality mentioned in this article, but definitely check it out as it’s a great jumping off point. There’s so many questions it raises and the enterprising writer could do well to come up with some creative answers.

Now do I know any zoologists with zebra experience I can interview…?

UPDATE: One of the zebras has been found dead due to an illegal trap. So, for everyone, I want to point out that this is objectively sad and I’m sad to hear this. However, for you screenwriters out there: there’s your way to set up the third act.

So Many Banned Books, So Little Time…

I’d previously pointed out that this week is the ALA’s annual Banned Book Week where you to can stick it to censors by reading books they feel would be better left unread or perhaps burnt to a cinder.

There’s so many books to choose from, you may wonder where to start, so I’d suggest checking out the ALA’s list of most challenged books that goes back over a decade.

You’re sure to find a book that tickles your fancy in a way that a censor finds most improper.

A screenshot of the American Library Association's website listing challenged books.

I’ve generally started with some of the books that seem to have been on school reading lists, but, for whatever reason, weren’t assigned books in my classes. So in past years, that’s led to me checking out The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (the book I read for last year’s week).

This year, I’ve been reading several memoirs and oral histories in general, so Beyond Magenta felt like a natural choice. I think one censor spontaneously combusted at the mere thought of it. This makes me happy.

Remember, you don’t need to worry about finishing a chosen banned book this week, but it’s a great week to start reading.

Star Trek is 55 Years Young Today!

It took a little doing, but the corporate marketing machine has finally gone to warp in trying to create Event Days for Star Trek, with “First Contact Day” earlier this year and “Star Trek Day” honoring the first broadcast of the original series lo these 55 years ago.

Case in point, this slick, satisfying montage:

I’ll come back and update this post with some highlights, but in the meantime, here’s the schedule, conveniently staged for after work for most daytime-working peeps.

You Too Can Die of Dysentery!

Nowadays, there are so many different types of timewasters online, but sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a classic.

I had been reminded that one of the quintessential games of my generation, The Oregon Trail, was available to play for free online.

It seems just and right to play it on a site dedicated to Oregon tourism.

Enjoy and, remember, trade to get food and always get help crossing the river.

Netflix Says “Game On”

Evidently, this month had gotten away from me –at least in term of blog updates– so this is most definitely old news, but remember how I noted that Netflix was getting into podcasts?

Well, apparently they’re getting into video games as well.

Shall we play a Netflix game? (Photo: the 1983 film WarGames)

Per the Vox/Recode article, they’re looking to start with games based on their existing properties (e.g. Stranger Things) and their hire of a former Oculus executive may bode a move towards virtual reality and interactive media (mainly my non-groundbreaking speculation, not the article’s assertion).

Meanwhile, not just a few people are wondering about this move into video games. This is an area where I’m not ready to speculate, but I am very interested in what happens next.