Category Archives: Blog

General thoughts on life, the universe and everything. Stuff that doesn’t fit in the other categories!

March of the Penguins

You’ve already seen once my disdain for Christian extremists. This week I found one more reason when we went to see “La Marche de l’empereur (2005),” or “March of the Penguins” if you, like me, can only read English.

As you may be aware, the Christian Right have adopted this movie as an example of both monogamy and Intelligent Design. If you’ve seen the film you’ll realise that it’s neither.

The idea that a creature most comfortable in the water walking over seventy miles several times a year is proof of intelligent design is, frankly, laughable. And the monogamy bit is only slightly more convincing. Yes, they do have a single partner but only for one mating season. Next year, should they survive, they’ll find someone new.

Fortunately none of this distracts from the film. It isn’t especially deep or meaningful and it doesn’t go into detail as much as, say, an Attenborough series on the BBC would. It’s beautifully shot. The commentary is generally interesting, although it does lapse into easy anthropomorphism rather too frequently.

Enjoyable and worth seeing, just not necessarily for the reasons that some people tell you…

Dante’s Inferno Test

The Dante’s Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell – The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

LevelScore
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 – Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 – The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 – Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante’s Inferno Hell Test

Weirdest Movies Reviews in the World — Ever

This is incredible. And I don’t use the word lightly.

The site in question is the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Reports. Here you can find hundreds of “reviews” of movies and ratings of how well they conform to one interpretation of good Christian values. They claim that it’s objective but there are a number of opinions about the faith that would not be shared by all.

I think pretty much all of my favourite films do very badly on their scale. I have not checked through all of them yet but two of the best ones so far are for The Incredibles and The Passion of the Christ. They both score roughly the same, yet the former, a typical Pixar movie with all those hallmarks that Disney films used to have, has “…behavioral, moral and value implantation dangers” while the latter, despite depicting a man being nailed to a cross, “…is [only] a movie.”

F.A.Q.

Most sites have a Frequently Asked Questions section and I don’t want to feel left out. So far no-one has actually asked any questions, so I am just guessing.

How are you?

I find that I annoy myself by saying “I’m good” when asked that question. I’m just not convinced it’s actually valid English. I got into the habit when I found that many Americans stare at you blankly if you answer any other way.

Who are you?

That’s a very deep question. Perhaps we could start with something a bit easier? If you’re impatient I suggest you ask someone with a Psychology or Philosophy degree and not someone like me who has one in Computer Science.

What do you want?

Never ask that question.

I live in Nigeria and would like to transfer a large sum of money out of the country. Can you help me?

Ha! Like I’d make that mistake again.

What’s red, round and ticks?

A clock-work tomato.

Will you promise never to tell a joke that bad again?

I’m afraid all my jokes are that bad.

Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

I don’t like the sound of where this is going, but in answer to your question, no. As I am a male Caucasian it’s probably best that I don’t try to dance.

What’s the state capital of California?

Only a few people will know why this is funny. I’m not going to explain.

Why won’t my file open when I’m eating toast?

That is the most stupid question ever! Do not have children! (This from the Daily Dilbert mailing on the 7th October, 2005.)

Are you really as dumb as you seem from this blog?

Such rudeness. But probably.

Well, I hope you found that enlightening. Feel free to add a comment with any new questions you have.

Unappreciated technology

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” or so said Arthur C. Clarke. What struck me when I was on holiday a couple of weeks ago is that there’s a level beyond that: when you don’t even notice.

We were sat in a restaurant having dinner and for reasons that I can no longer recall, conversation came round to the first UK hit by the Rolling Stones. ‘H’ said that it was “Come On,” ‘J’ swore that it was something entirely different. This all being at least ten years before I was born I had no real opinion on the subject but I did know a man who would have the answer. I immediately took out my mobile and texted him. A few minutes later the answer came back (‘H’ was right).

Of course, this was all taken for granted, except ‘J’ who now owed ten thousand dong. But have you ever considered the level of technology required to make this happen?

A very much simplified sequence of events looks something like this: my phone sends the message to the local cell tower (those things they put on top of schools that fry pigeons and cheaply microwave the chicken nuggets the kids are having for dinner). The cell tower transfers the message on to some “command centre,” a big room with stacks of computers, noisy fans and flashing lights being maintained by men in white coats clutching clip-boards. From here it zips all six thousand miles back to the UK, only pausing to make a note in the billing system. Once back in Blighty the network tries to find the phone, transfers the message to the nearest cell and on to the phone itself. The return trip would be similar but with the added complexity of having a UK phone operating on a foreign network.

All this happens faultlessly in just a few seconds. Isn’t that amazing?

Of course I’m not claiming to be the first to notice this. I remember hearing an interview with Douglas Adams where he marvels at the complexity lying behind a light switch. The difference, in my mind at least, is how quickly this immensely complicated technology has moved from magic to invisibility.