Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tremors Web Game / Tetris Hell


This is almost as funny as Tetris Hell

have you read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin?

The second part of his autobiography is written in 1784.

I hadn't realize how thoroughly some of his ideas have permeated American culture. In many cases, his ideal really is the American ideal. Weird. Sure, I knew Franklin was a patriarch of American culture, but I didn't realize the extent to people who have never thought about him, except for 50 bills.

For instance, Franklin by his old age seemed quite set in his ways and quite dismissive of beliefs that incorporated "dogma" and doctrine.
He seemed to be only interested in religious thought that focused on practical civilized good-behavior.
He didn't much care why someone did something, just how they did it. Their habit. That's quite like American churches today, but also Japanese Shinto and many other world religions.
He had no use apparently for spirituality, or for what was in a person's heart unless it affected their habit.
So as to not slur Franklin, please let me quote his Autobiography:

"Tho' I seldom attended any Public Worship, I had still an opinion of its Propriety, and of its Utility when rightly conducted... [the] Discourses were chiefly either polemic Arguments, or Explications of peculiar Doctrines of our Sect, and were all to me very dry, uninteresting and unedifying, since not a single moral Principle was inculcated or enforce'd, their Aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good Citizens."
and again
"...these I esteem'd the Essentials of every Religion, and being to be found in all the Religions we had in our Country I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of Respect as I found them more or less mixed with other Articles which without any Tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm Morality, serv'd principally to divide us & make us unfriendly to one another."

He didn't get everything he wanted though. He was very much a humbug, and there would be nightlife in no city in America if he had his way. Alcohol would be much harder to obtain. Live music and theatre wouldn't be so important.
I wonder, though, did he partially succeed? I have heard that America seems very dull compared to many places in Europe. How does it compare with other parts of the world?

I want to say though that I continue to have a deep respect for the man. Much of his philosophy is brilliant. It is so very true that It is hard for an empty Sack to stand upright in reference to morality. Also, when Franklin observes that wise men are usually quiet and don't enter into arguments. And then when he teaches about making it a habit to say things in a less provocative way, to ease communication ("I apprehend this..." or "It seems to me that..."). It's just his ideas feel pretty empty on occasion.

An aside here: I don't know if you've heard of him, but Cotton Mather was just before Franklin's time and wrote a well-known book or two, one titled "Essays to Do Good" which Franklin read as a kid. Sounded worth trying to find online or elsewhere.

Have you read the Voyage of the Dawn Treader?

Michael May's Adventureblog: Master of the Seven Seas

I agree entirely with the observation "So [I say to Disney], part two, Prince Caspian, didn't make a gazillion dollars. What a surprise. Prince Caspian was always the dud, relatively speaking, of the series. For fans who read and reread The Chronicles of Narnia, it was the one you could skip."

Oh, and it's frustrating I can't figure out how to italicize headers. Anyway...

The above link of MM also has the basis for his undersea colony.
Also see: http://michaelmay.us/09blog/06/0609_seahelmet.jpg

Cyrus the Great

Cyrus is a great name.
Cyrus the Great was a amazing ancient ruler. And he was the first known to have established human rights. As I recall.
Behold, the Cyrus Cylinder! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_cylinder

So is Noah, and Melchizedek. And Caiaphus. And Thor is a great first name.


Happy Thor's Day everybody!


Kaijuology: The Zillo Beast Strikes Back

I'm not any special fan of the Star Wars franchise, and even moreover the modern preview trilogy I think was a significant reduction is the appeal the universe has. However, I am a very rabid kaiju fan, albeit one who has only a fragmentary familiarity. FYI, kaiju is a Japanese word for "monster" as I understand it, and is a convenient term for the Godzilla-style of monster movies which often feature actors in rubber suits known as "suitimation". Additionally, daikaiju means "giant monster" but I perfer the shorter term, since either is non-specific for Americans, while the term "xenomorph" has been used in some of the movies themselves, such as Tokyo S.O.S.

Well, I found a very cool blog today, and I watched the link it gave me, and it was worth it for me. If I flatter myself with the title kaijuologist, I at least should keep an eye on things.


Well, apparently a kid-oriented animation short is shown on Cartoon Network these days, titled Clone Wars. and filling in some gaps between Episode III and the original Star Wars movie, formally Episode 4.


BTW, the second commentary, for Z Strikes Back, wasn't of any interest in terms of kaijuological interest, although I enjoyed the preview for Strikes. I was only so far able to find and watch 2.18, the original of the two episodes.

Oh no! We're entrusting Legendary Pictures to bring Godzilla a good name again?
These are the guys who made the Persians so historically accurate. And aren't these the guys who did 10,000 BC? Well, I guess 300 was a Hollywood success after all, but I think was with the moviegoers who didn't already have an idea about Spartans and Persians.

Strangest Klingon

Micheal May's blogspot refers to it as the "Goofiest Klingon"

I'm not sure I'd use the term Goofiest, myself. That's why I adopted Strangest. Perhaps, making the least sense.
Many things that seem very goofy or insane or strange are merely without the context for understanding them.
That's my little self-righteous preaching for the day ;-) Oh, who am I kidding, for the moment. ;-)

MM suggests I look at this link for context. Okay. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQGR5QmKly8

Oh! It's the Klingon from Decipher's A Klingon Challenge! Now it actually makes a little sense, but not quite sense.
Captain Kavok!
Commandeer Ship!
Fractal Encryption Code!
Amanda Rogers!
Mirror Image x10!
Q the Referee > Intermix Ratio!

Stargate fans, looky at Cleopatra in SpAAAace!


That's not my SpAAAce over-exaggeration there, it's their title, not mine.

My thanks go to Micheal May's blogspot, for the introduction:

Moral Principles of Subjectivism and Proximity

I have long held the opinion, from a morality point of view, just because there are starving people in Africa, or homeless in Chicago, or even one of my best friends dying from cancer, etc., I don't have to enjoy getting shit on.

Pardon my verbage, but at times like this, I think it is appropriate to call things what they are.

I would call this a principle of Subjectivism, because the circumstances of other's lives do not require me to be pleased with things that are not good. I am not going to be objective and think "oh well, others have it so much worse than I do" and let it go at that. It's not an invalid thought, but it's not a realistic basis for rational concerns. Overall happiness and satisfaction might can be based on objective thinking, but not an immediate complaint.

Another concept: Proximity. This is very similar to above, if not the same. What happens to me matters more to me than other things happening to other people. I don't have to feel selfish or ethically deficient. Just because my neighbor is dying, it doesn't make me any happier my house burned down.

Zues and Roxanne Nerd-alysis

Is there a better, more nifty term for Nerd-alysis? It'd be cool to find or invent a better creative combination of words. Geek sampling?

Well, at my job in a group home, one of our residents was watching the kid's movie Zues and Roxanne about mutt and a dolphin and their respective human consorts, and I sat down to watch it with him and build a friendly rapport. (I had to google the spelling on that word, "repore") (No HIPPA violations here, I think. I hope.)

That was a few days ago. I just now had a chance to blog. Well, I had a few geeky "ooh!" moments that I did not expect and wanted to share.

First, "Ooh! That's the guy from Short Circuit! I can't recall seeing him in any other movie, ever!" Not a bad actor, and quite the winning smile. I'd like to think I share that feature.

Second, 'Ooh! Is that Ba'al?' off Stargate? Sinister and menacing, as always, in his quiet way. Cool.

Third, and I didn't think of this until later, the movie had it's own fizzbin moment! The kids sit around to play their version of "poker" with a supposedly naive younger kid, and make up complex arbitrary rules as it goes along. "The two of spades beats anything!" They make no reference to that great Iotian scene in Star Trek, but I thought it was great. Of course, to have been a REAL fizzbin moment it would have needed an abrupt fistfight.

FACT Critical Thinging "Skeptics" Meetup group

Not too long ago I joined the Forsth Area Critical Thinkers group on Meetup.com, and I've been to a handful of meetings since (they only meet once a month, so they accrue slowly).


This morning, I was responding to a post I made on the group, and since I have made a very nice and well-crafted piece of discussion, for laziness sake I thought I'd repost it here.
My major objection seems to be that the group isn't as much a critical thinking discussion group or even "skeptics" group as a athiests' political group. And that bothers me, although that's not my call to make, except for how I choose to use my time.


"I thought this was a critical thinking group?"

Start a new discussion Track this discussion Add a reply
Posted May 1, 2010 10:02 AM Link to this discussion Edit Quote in reply

user 4826257
Lexington, NC
Post #: 8

I am rather displeased by the trend I've seen in my last few visits (a grand total of two; not a real big sampling I admit...haha). The trend is this: less emphasis on critical thinking, and more emphasis on political ideology. I completely agree that the separation of church and state, religious freedom, rights of expression, etc., are very valid topics for discussion and applied critical thinking, but I do not agree that political activism (especially related to personal beliefs) is valid for a critical thinking group. There ARE political activism groups. That's not what I thought this was. Call me spineless, but I have a live and let live take on many such things. I am reminded for a quote from Voltaire (or at least I think it was Voltaire): and since he wrote in French, it is indisputably a paraphrase at best: "I may not agree with anything you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

Am I alone in this? I'm not giving up on the worth of the meetup, or topic, or the cheese sticks, or my future interest, but this is just a small objection I wanted to air.


***** ******
Posted May 2, 2010 9:38 AM Link to this reply Quote in reply Report as spam
user 10897564
Winston Salem, NC
Post #: 1

******* (agreeing with me)

******* *******
Posted May 19, 2010 9:16 PM Link to this reply Quote in reply Report as spam

user 7748278
Group Organizer
Winston Salem, NC
Post #: 4

I just saw this thread or I would have replied sooner. Feel free to suggest a topic Rich. What topic specifically did you not approve of?

Posted May 25, 2010 11:35 AM Link to this reply Edit Delete Quote in reply

user 4826257
Lexington, NC
Post #: 11

I really enjoyed the "Myths of Recycling" screening (I know that's not the actual title, but I don't recall). I thought that was going in the direction of where I would like to see this group go, thinking beyond casual socially-accepted "common knowledge." Origins and analysis of misinformation, and so on.

At the moment, I can't really pinpoint a "topic" that I disapproved of (and, of course, my disapproval is a strong word, and is merely my opinion), but it was more about attitudes. And again, attitudes have every right to be divergent from my own and to be expressed and my distaste for them doesn't suggest they don't warrant a Meetup group. Why do I feel like Seinfeld? "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

Anyway, instead of chastising ourselves into greater critical thinking, the group seems to be currently more heavily leaning towards criticizing the way other's believe. I know for a fact that I don't think about things the way I used to, and partially from that experience I feel it is important to respect other peoples' beliefs, even when in my view they are in error. That brings to mind again my objections to the whole "Draw Muhammad Day" or however it was termed. I fully acknowledge the persuasive arguments made for the effort, "we will not succumb to intimidation", etc, and I have allowed myself to become undecided on the issue.

Okay, suggestions: "Why Wal-Mart is bad for America?" type documentaries, or Global-Warming documentaries, or Lost Boys of Sudan, or just discussing what we've seen in the news lately. Personally, I remain only loosely in touch with current events, and would appreciate a discussion of news. Or maybe a roundtable discussion of "What's on your mind this week?" and then chat about the subject that comes up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Michael May's Adventureblog: Movie News: An Army of Ivan Dragos

Michael May's Adventureblog: Movie News: An Army of Ivan Dragos

I gotta recommend firstly that you watch the teaser for Iron Man 4
Yes, it's a parody.

Secondly, the rest is all pretty cool, and I made special note of Monsterpocolypse because it is a cool concept.

Although I still think a Turok movie would be the best idea of all, and now that Prince of Persia is pushing that particular envelope even further, I have more hope than ever before. And you?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wa Wa Yu, the world's largest salamander

Wa Wa Yu is apparently the Chinese name for it, meaning "baby fish"
The Chinese giant salamander.


I had been told about the wa wa by a friend of mine from Tulsa who had lived for a while in Taiwan, and then of a Japanese analog sometime later by another friend. And I had also read of the animal in a zoology book a while before, noting the possibility of a (now extinct) North American version to validate various questionable reported sightings.

But, I had not known specifically that the wa wa was the same animal, and the reason I say "wa wa" instead of "wa wa yu" is that's what my friend called it, and he claimed "wa wa" was a mimicry of an infant's crying, which I suppose might make sense. Chinese words seem to be derived. But my friend also claimed he was told the wa wa made that sound, which I don't see otherwise reported. Perhaps, though, perhaps...

Wonders of the Yangtze River

Or rather they WERE

I heard about the Chinese paddlefish not long ago, thanks to a homemade video tour of the Bristol Zoo I found online, and since I knew a bit about American Paddlefish of the Mississippi Valley from my time in Oklahoma, I was curious.
Paddlefishes are a representative of a very ancient group of fishes, one which was swimming with the dinosaurs. They aren't the oldest by far, but are certainly noteworthy. Along with sturgeons, they are a stepping stone toward the modern bony fishes, but fall short of the distinction. Like the older sharks, they have a mostly cartilaginous skeleton and other primitive characteristics.
If you have never heard of paddlefishes, please do not feel bad. I had paid any attention until I went to Oklahoma one of the places they they live, and later I saw one in an aquarium. Impressive stately creatures and awingly primordial. Then, I did not even realize that there was a Yangtze version of the paddlefish until this month, although I had the impression there were more species than the American one.

http://www.capachi.com/paddlefish.htm (with nice photos!)

Lo and behold, another missing wonder from the Yangtze River of China. Again, a victim of intense pollution and population stressors, no doubt.

The reason I say "another" is I heard of a much more appalling disappearance not long ago: the baiji, or Yangtze river dolphin
Why this is important: The baiji is the first large vertebrate to go extinct in my lifetime, if I have read right.

The Yangtze River is starting to sound like an aquatic graveyard. I'm sure there is much more ecologic damage than I am aware of, being only passingly familiar with Chinese biomes.

The Chinese Paddlefish is apparently more visably related to the sharks. To me, it looks more like a sturgeon than a American paddlefish, which may be why recent "sightings" have been shown to be of sturgeon. It is supposed to have been one (if not the) largest freshwater fish in the world. No wonder it is also known as the Chinese swordfish! If you find pictures, you'll see what I mean, such as here: http://www.capachi.com/paddlefishPost.jpg

Friday, May 7, 2010

View of where I live

well, thereabouts. After I moved back to NC from Tulsa, I've had many friends ask me to show them pictures of what it looks like out here. So many people seem to think the only mountains worth seeing are in Colorado or somewhere like that. I disagree.


This is from the Tennessee mountains, but might as well be from here. We're talking an hour difference in distance.

I actually live about three hours from areas where the above scenery is commonplace.

A less attractive but more honest view:

Xolo Dog Breed: ughck! Chupacabra!


I'd heard about these dogs, but wow, I'd never seen them in pictures, not like this.

E-mail Notifications

wow, after 7 months, it was really annoying me that people could comment on my blogs without me receiving some sort of notification, and I finally found it in settings. Well, it takes a while for my annoyance to build up to take the form of action! I hope this works not the way I want it to.

Moment of Zen: Homevideo of Bristol Zoo

This uTube video includes a portion showing a very interesting tourist home-video of the Bristol Zoo in England, it seems within the month.
That's the only part of the video I'm confident about recommending. Anything else seems either questionable or appeals to specific naturalist interests, although I personally found it all worth watching. In fact, it was calming, and thus my titular moment of zen.


This website I am linking to (and from) has a focus on "cryptozoology" the study of unknown animals mostly via the study of local legends and mysterious "sightings". A lot of it is hogwash, but even when it IS hogwash these people do a pretty good job of giving the matter thoughtful serious analysis to show in what way it is hogwash. Some of it is legitimate amateur naturalists studying invasive species, or unexpected migrations, or accidental releases from private collections, etc.


I considered calling this blog :"A Lotl Axcitement" but I thought better of it.

It takes a special person to appreciate the humor in this online video, or rather to even know what it is referring to.


If you have no idea what an axolotl is, don't feel badly.
It's a mudpuppy-type creature related closely to the tiger salamanders, and native to Mexico.
Even as a relatively wide-read zoo enthusiast, I just found about about the axolotl this year, at age 27.
I recall seeing an axolotl exhibit before I had learned about them, and at the time didn't realize what I was looking at.