Tuesday, November 29, 2011

War rhinos and bio-terrorism speculation

While reading this blog article to distant xenomorphalogical interest (http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2007/03/war_rhinos.php) I got to thinking about kaiju used in war.

(I could explain what I am talking about, but I think it's kind of funny if I don't)

When I saw Jurassic Park III, I was really hoping that I was hearing hints of bio-warfare using dinosaurs. I was sad there hasn't been a JP 4, although eventually they did make Rush Hour 3 after all, so there is still hope.

Anyway, besides mad scientists (Mechani-Kong and Ebirah) and aliens (Monster Zero, etc) and lost civilizations (Megalon and Manda) are there many examples of kaiju-warfare? And I noticed all my examples are Japanese. What about American movies?

All I can think of that's American is Cyber-GINO. That's sad.

Ooh, ever hear of stegodon or sivatherium?

Indian tea

my girlfriend's coworker had friends over this weekend who are originally from India
You take loose tea (they say orange pekoe is the best), and you put it in boiling water and let it steep. then you pour in some milk, a pinch of cardamom, and a little bit of ginger powder. Then you use a strainer to pour it in your cup, and add sugar.

Zelda Biology text!


This is so cool!

"Theories" need a rating system

From my ongoing thought processes resultant from Stephen Hawking's book comes more blogging. But this one wasn't even inspired by my reading, but was a later thought! I have so many more to go!

This blog post is, in part, a result of my ponderings following my "Savannah theory" post of a few months ago.

Is seems to me that even scientists use the term "theory" in a few different ways depending on context but also forum and discipline. And if national economies can be applied with a AAA rating, and much lower, why can't scientific ideas? Surely national economics is at least as divisive and debatable as science.

Anyway, in a Brief History of Time, Hawking says:

"...you have to be clear about what a scientific theory is. I shall take the simple-minded view that a theory is just a model of the universe, or a restricted part of it, and a set of rules that relate quantaties in the model to observations that we make. It exists only in our minds, and does not have any other reality (whatever that might mean). A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements: It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definate predictions about the results of future observations."


"Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiements agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory"


"In practice, what often happens is that a new theory is devised that is really an extension of the previous theory. For example, very accurate observations of the planet Mercury revealed a small difference between its motion and the predictions of Newton's theory of gravity. Einstein's general theory of relativity predicted a slightly different motion from Newton's theory. The fact that Einstein's predictions matched what was seen, while Newton's did not, was one of the crucial confirmations of the new theory."

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Nod to Aristotle

Well, I spefically refer to Aristotle for reasons I will explain, but all the ancient thinkers need to be similarly appreciated.

Well, I've been reading Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time and I have had so many blog ideas come of that book it just isn't funny. So, expect more to come. If I have time. Haha, time. Get it? Ah, nevermind.

Anyway, it is suprisingly rare that I see the ancient thinkers given their proper due. I often see them refrenced and their ideas explained. But what I mean is praise, and an acknowledgment of debt. In fact, I consider it amazing what the ancients acheived without the advanced instruments of the modern day. This isn't meant to downgrade any modern scientist, and I think all good scientists accept their endebtedness, but I don't see it in print enough. Galileo and Newton receive much more praise than the Greeks, and the Greeks much more than non-western philophers of the ancient world.

Well, Stephen Hawking isn't as humble as I would like, but he does offer Aristotle specifically a point of praise I had never come across before. Aristotle believed in 4 elements, Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and 2 forces, gravity and levity. Hawking rightly dismisses this as early graspings at reality, but he adds that Aristotle began a tradition in science that has never faded: describing the universe as elements and forces.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The God of Albert, Issac, and Stephen

This is referring to Issac Newton and is a pun of the Bibilcal phrase "The God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob" used to identify.

Anyway, this follows my blog post on Stephen Hawking's A Breif History of Time, and it a short rumination on the attitudes towards God expressed.

Issac is the easiest. It's pretty well documented that he had some strong pro-religious thoughts. He incorporated ideas of religious purity in his scientific experiments, especially dealing with alchemy. He is reputed to have been very unhappy that his gravitational theories seemed to promote a relative understanding of space (distance between heavenly bodies), on the grouds that absolute space fit better with his Christian concepts.

I do not know much about Hawking's thoughts on the matter, other than his concillatory language in his book, Breif Time.

He goes so far to say: "One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning...An expanding universe does not preclue a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!"

Albert Einstein is a bit of an enigma. He has some great pro-religion comments attributed to him, as well as some anti-religious ideas also attributed. I just don't know. At the least (or most), he might have beleived in "a" God, just not in the Judeo-Christian God. Again, I dunno.
The best has to be:
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

I chose to make no comments at this time. I need to go blow my nose.

what have you read by Stephen Hawking?

My tastes in literature vary a lot. In fact, I take pride in the scope of my study, whether fictional or non-fiction. I set down the Poe book of short stories I've been reading (because after dark is not a good time for me to be reading Poe, on the chance I stumbled across one of his more disturing moments) and took up an old used copy of A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

I am only a few chapters into it, but I think i can already make some general comments.

This books firstly is seriously outdated (printed in 1988) but I wouldn't know the difference. That's sad, in a way, but nothing that troubles me overmuch. What amazed me was being reminded how old Eistein and his General Theory of Relativity is, about equal with the invention airplanes. There have been many steps since then, but nothing nearly as monumental. I think that the concepts of multiple universes is an up-to-date idea.

This book, A Breif History, succeeds very well I think at popular readability. The author lost me a few times, but that happens. I couldn't help but notice (from it's novelty) the vague considerations made toward a God-centered universe, or at least an Intelligent Design universe. This books was directed towards a opinionated public, so I thought the nods appropriate and becoming. I personally like to see a scientist take a humble stance on his science, and that's not to dinegrate him or her, but simply because I think modesty is prerequisite for an honestly open-mind.

Speaking of modesty and humility, I was pleased I already had a vague understanding of much of what Hawking wrote of. I think it's due to my readings in sci-fi, most notably Asimov, especially his The Billiard Ball.

I'd love to hear some comments.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hadon of Ancient Opar

I'm not as happy with Hadon now, because I dislike the inclusion of the Sahhindar character and all he implies. Still, I find the book much more fun than I am displeased. Oh, this blog entry is very disjoiunted and is mostly a collection of links.


Christopher Paul Carey got Farmer's permission to finally finish the novel. The title changed to The Song of Kwasin, and it was announced in July 2008 at Farmercon 90



saasares mountains (Ahaggar + Tibesti)

Flight To Opar by Phillip Jose Farmer
Those unacquainted with Hadon of Ancient Opar , volume one of the Ancient Opar series, should refer to the map following. This shows the two central African seas which existed circa 10,000 B.C. At that time the climate was much more humid (pluvial) than now. What are now the Chad Basin and the Congo Basin were covered with fresh water, bodies whose area equaled and perhaps surpassed that of the present-day Mediterranean. The Ice Age was dying, but large parts of the British Islands and northern Europe were covered with glaciers. The Mediterranean was from one to two hundred feet lower than its present level. The Sahara Desert of today was then vast grasslands, rivers and freshwater lakes, and was host to millions of elephants, antelopes, lions, crocodile and many other beasts, some now extinct. The map also shows the island of Khokarsa, which gave birth to the first civilization of Earth, and the largest cities which grew around the Great Water, the Kemu, and the Great Water of Opar, the Kemuwopar. The prehistory and history of the peoples of the two seas are outlined in the Chronology of Khokarsa in volume one. The map is a modification of the map in volume one. That, in turn, was a modification of a map presented by Frank Brueckel and John Harwood in their article: Heritage of the Flaming God, an Essay on the History of Opar and Its Relationship to Other Ancient Cultures . This appeared in The Burroughs Bulletin , Vernell Coriell, publisher, House of Greystoke, 6657 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64131.

This series basically derives from the Opar books of the Tarzan series, and the author wishes to thank Hulbert Burroughs again for the permission to write these tales. There is a rumor that this series is based on the translation of some of the gold tablets described by Edgar Rice Burroughs in The Return of Tarzan . That speculation will have to be dealt with in an addendum to a later volume of this series.

Feild Report: MACE 2011

I got to play my Havoc on Parade a few times, which i was trilled about, but also Abduction, Carcassone, and also a few new games.

My time was largely used up as a GM, and then having a cold all awhile, but I did manage to tap into a few other games.

One was playtesting a newly designed game, Rape Pillage and Burn. The artwork was not finished at all, but the gameplay went quite well. The title and thematic element of rape is the biggest difficulty facing the game designer, who I enjoyed meeting. Like slavery, or lynching, rape is just too taboo in our culture to really be an accepted game theme. It's sad for the game, because it works well and was fun to play. The artwork was viking-themed, and reminded me quite a bit of the old Obelisk and Asterix cartoons. Remember them?

go to time index 3:15


I also joined a game out of curiousity called Star Fleet Battles. It is an older game, from the 70s but re-published as late as the 90s. Apparently, it was officially licensced by the owners of the Star Trek franchise, with the odd exception of the words "Star Trek". But it had Klingons, Gorn, Tholians, Romulans, and even collaboration with the Star Trek Manuel.
Except for the lack of miniatures, it could be called a miniatures game. I beleive they called themselves a "simulation" game. It wasn't my style.

In other news, I finished up Gateway a few days ago, and started on Hadon of Ancient Opar. Hadon is by Farmer but based on certain Tarzan stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but taking place in 10,000 BC rather than modern day. One thing that makes it so much fun is that is really does feel like a long-lost ERB pulp-fiction type novel. He imitates and gives homage to ERB.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Good Ol' Mountain Dew"

It's not what you think it is, unless it is after all, in which case you guessed well and have a good scope of knowledge. I might not have figured it out, before today.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XV7mxfIIr0 aka "Pretty Polly"
(this is a bit explicit and I think representative of unchurched original Old Time music)


Hmm... http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/appalach.htm

"TRADITIONAL Appalachian music is mostly based upon anglo-celtic folk ballads and instrumental dance tunes....most of the one hundred or so variations of the three hundred classic ballads found in American tradition are to do with sexual struggles from the female standpoint...A large percentage, perhaps almost half, of the American variations tend to be about pregnant women murdered by their boyfriends. ...

... But, even as content was changed to reflect American locations, contexts, and occupations, many nineteenth century versions of the Child Ballads still refer to Lords and Ladies, castles, and ghosts, and retain as their central theme love affairs and interpersonal relations. The churches of America were also very influential and usually more puritan in nature. Many fairly explicit lyrics were softened and cleaned up. British paganism was frowned upon, and this censorship resulted in ballads where repentance and doom supplanted sinful behavior....

...The length of recording time also shortened songs to a few verses. In the earliest days of commercial recording each band had its own regional sound; later there was a great deal of experimentation with crossovers...

...In 1922 the first recording of a rural performer, Eck Robertson, was made. Many followed. To the absolute amazement of the urban record companies, recordings made by groups from the mountains sold in huge numbers and an 'industry' was born...

...The Great Depression of the 1930s put an end to the commercial viability of old-time music...The old traditional music of the mountains gave way to the beginnings of modern commercial country-western music....

...BUT the traditional old-time Appalachian music never really died off; it just reverted back to being a participatory 'folk' music...Many old songs, originally written for commercial reasons, are now considered traditional, their composers gradually forgotten."

other seemingly random YouTube videos of the moment:

Its amazing how a innocent search for old time mountain music can lead to groping videos, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ongoing Pipeline Nausea

This Pipeline sounds to me like a Lose-Lose-Lose situation.
America loses out (in the long-run, through oil dependence), the Earth loses out (via climate change), and the ecosystems of British Columbia lose.

I am not wholly informed, I admit, but isn't hard to see.

Conquest of the Empire: board game

This game was brought to our local gaming meetup last week, and I was enthusiastic to give it a try. It looked a bit like Risk, which I have a childhood affinity for. It plays differently, though, and some aspects are decidedly improved upon the Risk model.

The most striking positive change (to me, anyways) was sea battles and invasions from over the sea. These sorties were not patterned upon dotted lines, like in Risk, but were limited only by how many turns a player wanted to invest in their roamings.

Another big change is that a player is not eliminated necessarily by having all armies beaten, but rather by having their "Ceasar" or King taken. That might involve fighting to to the last military unit, or it might not.

Further change: If any military units survive your assault on the opposing Ceasar, they are now your troops. This makes sense considering the Roman civil war theme of the game.

I did not have fun during this game, overall. It wasn't the game. It was another player with a bad attitude. Even when I was winning, I stopped enjoying the game. (I'd like to think I lost the game mostly because I didn't have my heart in it anymore) I hate it when things like that happen. I only finished the game (6 hours!) because I wanted to be a good sport to others still playing. I am willing to grant that the player may have been having a bad day. I have done some soul-searching about how to react in the future, and I am as uncertain as before.

Curiosity is (in part) my Stress-Relief


The above RadioLab/ NPR broadcast was unusually good, and got me thinking.

It's a long show, but toward the end it spoke of how (in rat studies) certain factors improved a rat's stress levels, and consequently imroved health.

I think there were four clear atlernatives that had been tested and shown effection. One was taking out your distress on another creature (i.e. kicking the dog). Another was taking out your stress on an inanimate object. I forget the 3rd, but it's on the radio show, just listen. The 4th was acheiving a feeling of control.

In the case of the rat, well, maybe you'd rather not hear what horrible things were done to that poor animal.

But I got to thinking: It like a safety blanket, or a teddy bear, or carrying a gun around with a conceal license...

or curioisty. For me, knowing things learning things, is relaxing, and I suppose it might be, at least in part, kinda what they are talking about. A feeling of better control over my situation through knowledge. Maybe.

Bioengineering: The World Will Never Be the Same

I listened to the above on NPR, and really enjoyed the show.
I've never really paid much attention to this show called RadioLabs, but after this and other broadcasts, I intend to catch it as much as I can.

This all sounds like science fiction of 30 years ago. Very frightening, I think, although the soothsayers on the program think GMOs will save the world facing our 7 billion population (another sci-fi dystopian horror) combined with climate change (and yet another one).

I have to wonder.

And oh, I am currently reading a sci-fi book from the 70s by Frederick Pohl, titled Gateway. This is the first book to introduce the fictional Heechee alien race. I am enjoying it, and spending far too much time in my apartment these past few days. Ha ha. I bought it, hardback and with the original cover, for really cheap at Goodwill. You have no assistance in your browsing, and no certainty of finding anything, but the price is right. Anyway, real quick, this book appeals to me a lot for a few reasons. The mode of space exploration reminds me of Stargate. The considerations of archeology (instead of tunnel-vision of the future) appeal to me. The description and exploration of human relationships, love, and sexuality is refreshing to some degree (especially among older sci-fi). Lastly, the realistic portrayal of a sparsely populated galaxy appeals to me, in part because it is something I don't see as often. Aliens are cool, and make a good story: I realize that.