Another Day, Another Blog

August 4, 2009

Hello, my name is Normal

Filed under: curiosities — iamza @ 5:16 pm

Eschew obfuscation normality.

Is there such a thing as normal? Aren’t we all slightly bent in different ways? Isn’t that part of what makes being sentient such an adventure? If we all thought the same, if there was only one way of viewing the world, what would be the point of reading novels or going to the movies? We’d be able to predict exactly what was about to happen, how the heroes and villains would behave, because they’d think the same way we do.

It’s our abnormalities and differences that make us interesting, both to ourselves and to others, and gives rise to creativity and inspiration.

Normal is vanilla, generic, bland. Why would anyone want to be normal?

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Current cogitations

Filed under: curiosities, the joy of life — iamza @ 12:09 am

Why is it that space exploration is suddenly the network flavour of the month? All of a sudden, the new in-show seems to be one that includes a space-ship, a small group of slightly incompatible crew members, and a strange other intelligence guiding things from behind the scenes. (See also: Virtuality, Defying Gravity, and Stargate: Universe).

Is this just a subconscious reaction to the 40th anniversary of the moon landing?

Also, why is it that all the publishing houses are busily churning out books about vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, and/or ghosts? And let’s not forget the sudden spate of tragically romantic vampires and other assorted monsters on screens both big and small! (See also: Twilight, True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse novels, Moonlight, The Vampire Diaries, Blood Ties/Henry Fitzroy novels, Supernatural, Being Human, etc.)

When do we get a vampire who is neither tragic nor romantic, but rather a bit of a buffoon? “Hey, meet my friend, Jack. He’s funny, with fangs!”

September 10, 2007

Just say no!

Filed under: curiosities, the joy of life — iamza @ 4:09 pm

I have this thing about swallowing pills, especially capsules: I’m convinced that they’ll get trapped in the back of my throat and result in a minor inconvenience called death.

I am currently taking a course of antibiotics to help stave off a brutal invasion by evil jaw-germs. My antibiotics are in the form of capsules.

Have you ever noticed how doctors and pharmacists get very militant about antibiotics? “Now, I’m going to prescribe these antibiotics, but you must finish the full course. Don’t stop taking them until they’re all gone!”

Yes, sir!

Adding to my misery, opening up the capsules and dissolving the powder inside in a glass of water is apparently a no-no. It messes with the rate at which the antibiotics are released into the body.

Can one even overdose on antibiotics?

“I’m sorry, Za-parents. Your daughter is dead of an antibiotic overdose. If only she’d left the capsules well enough alone.”

My friend, Jaye, takes these huge horse pills to beef up her Omega-3, or Omega-12, or something, intake. She offered me some, once. Za-parents can be proud for they taught me well; I just said no.
 

August 22, 2007

Strange days

Filed under: curiosities, random, the joy of life — iamza @ 10:15 am

British drivers in a nutshell. Yes, VW drivers really are the British equivalent of Mercedes and BMW drivers in South Africa.

Had the oddest dream last night. I was visiting a college residence which had been taken over during the summer months by a film crew, who were filming who knows what. The college residence was part hotel, part shopping mall, and was bordered on one side by a soil-packing plant, complete with cranes and heavy machinery more likely to be associated with a large shipping port.

I didn’t have a room, so I spent my time sneaking into various crew rooms, and stealing naps on their very uncomfortable twin beds, nicking coffee from the neon-lit coffee shop, and relaxing in a cane chair in the glass-walled lounge which overlooked the soil shipping yard.

Then, all of a sudden, this huge mound of dirt just fell out of nowhere, and crushed the corrugated tin-roofed building next to the lounge, taking out two cranes and a couple of bulldozers. The lounge was half crushed, and I had to make my escape through the shipping yard because I was cut off from the door back into the college residence.

I was locked in a shipping container on my way to who knows where, when, thankfully, my alarm clock started beeping insistently. It’s not often I find myself so happy at the arrival of morning…

August 20, 2007

Heh

Filed under: curiosities — iamza @ 4:42 pm
What Be Your Nerd Type?

Your Result: Literature Nerd
 

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it’s eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today’s society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It’s okay. I understand.

Science/Math Nerd
 
Social Nerd
 
Anime Nerd
 
Drama Nerd
 
Gamer/Computer Nerd
 
Musician
 
Artistic Nerd
 
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

August 8, 2007

Link spam

Filed under: bright ideas, curiosities, science — iamza @ 10:31 am

Eidetic memory, here I come!

or possibly not.

Funny thing is, I remember studying for a history test when I was fourteen, and attempting to make a mental photograph of a critical page. When it came time to take the test, I found I could call up an image of that page in my mind, showing the overall shape and lay-out of the text (paragraph indentations, where the paragraphs went in or out on the unaligned left margin, how many lines of text there were, etc). Even though I couldn’t read all of the text, just having that image in my mind enabled me to answer the questions.

Alas, it was a one-time event. I’ve never been able to repeat that trick — a fact I found highly annoying when it came time to revise the three ginormous folders worth of work for my third year earth sciences course…

***

Last night, I was watching a repeat of a programme in which researchers attempt to recreate Stonehenge. It’s astounding to think that 4000 years ago, there were people who, armed only with buck antlers, logs, and stone axes, managed to move 40-ton stones with relative ease. I was especially intrigued by Gordon Pipe’s stone-rowing technique for moving giant slabs of rock. Never say you can’t learn anything of use from TV; if I ever accidentally travel back 4000 years in time, I now have a valuable piece of information to share with the locals, which should ensure that I live long enough to escape back to the future. Thanks, Mr. Pipes!

June 26, 2007

Excuse me, Sir, but your dark matter just ate my moon!

Filed under: curiosities, sci-fi, when natures strikes back — iamza @ 3:51 pm

Why is the science in made-for-TV movies often so laughably bad? Not that Hollywood blockbusters are all that much better, but at least the blockbusters have bigger budgets, giving them sparkly special effects and other assorted eye candy.

In Dark Storm, a bunch of scientists come up with a way to super-charge dark matter, and transform it so that it disintegrates matter. Of course, one of the scientists decides super-charged dark matter would make a really handy weapon of mass (literally!) destruction, and sets in motion an evil scheme which puts the fate of the world in jeopardy. Also, Stephen Baldwin gets infected with dark matter and becomes a lightning mage. Stephen Baldwin’s movie wife is less than enthusiastic about the new spark this introduces into their relationship. Oh, and the Smoking Man from X-Files makes an appearance — he’s now General Smoking Man.

I think my favourite moments in the movie were when the super-charged dark matter made tornadoes that ate famous landmarks. Lesson learned from disaster movies: Never buy a house near by a famous landmark. You’re just asking for trouble…

Someone in Sci-Fi UK’s  programming department has a wicked sense of humour. No sooner was Dark Storm complete than Stephen Baldwin returned to the screen in another disaster flick, titled Earthstorm. A massive asteroid impact knocks the moon from its orbit, and sends debris raining down on Earth. Tides and weather are affected by the changed lunar orbit, but, more critically, the asteroid impact has cracked the moon, and it is slowly coming apart. It is up to a demolitions expert (Stephen Baldwin) and crackpot scientist to save the planet…but first they must overcome the resistance of egomaniac and sceptic Dirk Benedict.

Biggest pet peeves: (1) The ease with which the shuttle became available for launch to the Moon — with turbo-boost nuclear pulse engines, to boot! (2) As far as I know, the crew aboard a shuttle in high Earth orbit is weightless. (3) Sealing the crack, if it’s even possible, would do nothing to stabilize the lunar orbit. “Too bad, so sad” for the Earth on that score.

I’m quite intrigued by the idea of using an electromagnetic bomb to collapse the chasm walls of the Moon in towards one another. I don’t know how the bomb would work — how does it impart a sufficiently large charge to one wall of the chasm without similarly charging the other wall? How magnetically susceptible are Moon rocks, anyway? 

I started off scoffing at the notion of a satellite-cracking asteroid impact. But the leading hypothesis for moon formation suggests that the Moon formed when a Mars sized body collided with Earth, knocking out a huge chunk of the planet. That debris later acreted to form the Moon.

Funnily enough, one of the strongest  arguments in favour of the impact origin for the Moon is the lack of a significant iron-rich core — results from the Lunar Propector experiment back in 1999 suggest that the lunar core makes up maybe 3% of the Moon’s mass. In contrast, the Earth’s core accounts for roughly 30% of the planet’s mass.   

Images of the Moon’s magnetic field are fascinating. Unlike the Earth, the Moon does not currently have a global dipolar magnetic field. This does not negate the possibility that, in the past, there was a functioning geodynamo on the Moon, but, given the small size of the lunar core, any such geodynamo was likely short-lived. The magnetic anomalies observed on the Moon are isolated and, on average, have an amplitude less than a hundredth of those observed on the Earth. Given their spatial correlation with significant craters (the strongest anomalies are located on the opposite side of the Moon from the youngest and largest impact craters), it is possible that the magnetic anomalies we observe today on the Moon were created by transient magnetic anomalies during impact

If nothing else, Earthstorm succeeded in one respect: it piqued my interest sufficiently that I found myself googling the Moon’s magnetic field. It’s a pity the same cannot be said for dark matter and Dark Storm.

May 29, 2007

Giant eyes in the sky

Filed under: curiosities, the joy of life — iamza @ 1:52 pm

I love ferris wheels. The bigger they are, the more terrified I am when the basket I’m in stops at the top while people are loaded into the baskets at the bottom. This is especially true when the wind is not blowing, because the basket I’m in will inevitably rock like a cradle stuck in a gale-tossed tree regardless of actual atmospheric conditions.

You’d think, being, er, cautious of heights, that my body would take one look at a ferris wheel, and bolt away to find the nearest ship anchor or other heavy object with which to weigh itself down. “No, no, we loves the earth, my preciousss. No whirly sky rides for us, no, no, no.”

But there’s something addictive about being terrified out of your wits, and having to hide it. I’m sure my grin on a ferris wheel resembles that of a golden retriever with his head stuck out the window of a car travelling ninety miles an hour down the M1 (tongue and ears blown backwards by the force of the wind, and all).

May 23, 2007

Yet another pointless post

Filed under: curiosities, humour — iamza @ 7:04 am

Considering I’ve not read the novel yet, I find it highly entertaining that Peter Watts’ Blindsight has brought me more internet traffic than any other post I’ve written so far…

Sorry, Peter Watts fans — I hope that google doesn’t bring you back here twice!

May 4, 2007

Hello

Filed under: curiosities — iamza @ 7:00 am

Who are you? What do you enjoy?

Do you like the colour blue?

Are you a book reader, collector, or both? Do you bend pages, lay books flat on a table open to the page you’re reading, or use a bookmark? Have you ever thrown out a book you couldn’t stand?

Is laughter really the best medicine? How do you define a good sense of humour?

Are strangers just friends you haven’t met yet, or monsters in hiding? Would you smile at people you didn’t know when walking past them on the street? 

Do you say hello? 

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