Some Television History To Stuff Into Your Eyes

     The creators of Pioneer One, a crowd-funded direct-to-the-internet television series, have a website...

     ... which links to a YouTube channel ...

     ... which, in addition to hosting Pioneer One, also hosts two noteworthy BBC productions in their entirety:  the second and third Quatermass television serials, early science-fiction works written by legendary Manx screenwriter and science-fiction pioneer Nigel Kneale, which have influenced the entire science-fiction genre in the decades since — particularly in the United Kingdom, where the Quatermass stories influenced the writers of Doctor Who.

     Sadly, the first one was not recorded in its entirety as television was typically done live at the time of its broadcast — but the second and third hold up very well even after all this time.

     Quatermass II first aired in October and November of 1955.  It was hailed for allegorical exploration of the negative effects of widespread industrialisation, and the corruption of government by corporate interests.

     Quatermass And The Pit was originally broadcast from December of 1958 to January of 1959.  It was praised for mining folklore and mythology to create a story which struggled with themes of humanity's aggressive, hostile nature,  the perversion of science for miltary use, and racial tensions.
     What makes finding these even better is that both serials have now become public domain due to their age.



We Welcome Another Back To The Path Of Health

     Professional "foodie" Alexandra Jamieson has renounced veganism for health reasons.  Since "Tasha" closed her blog after receiving threats against herself and her family for doing the same, I thought it prudent to reproduce Alexandra Jamieson's announcement here …

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VIDEO:  Famous vegan Alex Jamieson eating meat after 12 years (The Globe and Mail)
Girlfriend of Morgan Spurlock and voice of reason in 'Super Size Me' Alex Jamieson, a well-known vegan, has recently begun adding animal protein to her diet after 12 years without.

Penny For The Guy Who Failed

     Guy Fawkes:  he fought in the Eighty Years' War for the Catholics against the Protestants; sought international support for a Catholic coup d'état against the crown; and planned to assassinate King James I in the hope of restoring a Catholic monarch to the throne.   Fawkes' failure has been commemorated yearly in England, every November 5th since 1605, by burning him in effigy on a bonfire (more details at Wikipedia).

     However, anarchists and libertarians continually misconstrue Guy Fawkes' actions, because Fawkes' agenda of religious hatred has been so forgotten that no-one knows to correct them — people in the States don't even realise that Guy Fawkes Day is meant to mock Fawkes rather than celebrate him.  

     I find this doubly hilarious:  people make themselves look like unlettered buffoons on the one hand, and on the other hand he is (in all likelihood) spinning in his grave because no one remembers what he got himself killed for in the first place.

     Humanity provides some good laughs when it isn't busy giving one reason to do a douple-facepalm.

Got Christians? 1

All Hallow’s Meal-time

     Many special interest groups have been complaining about Halloween being a “demonic” holiday because of its pagan roots, and in parts of the USA have succeeded in getting it cancelled.

    I could talk about how pagan beginnings don’t make things inherently bad for you, or point out that the special-interest groups making the most noise aren’t exactly in a position to throw stones (Christians and Muslims, I’m looking at you here).

    However, I’m not going to do that because I’ve got a much better suggestion: Let’s drop the spiritualist crap entirely and get Halloween back to it’s real roots as a harvest-related festival.

    It’s no co-incidence that Halloween takes place at the end of the harvest season immediately before the first frosts hit.

    It’s no co-incidence that the primary Halloween-related activity is sharing food with every Tom, Dick and Hairy that shows up at your door. If I’m not mistaken, that adheres pretty strongly to the values that fundamentalists of both Christian and Muslim persuasions claim to support.

    It’s no co-incidence that Halloween’s most enduring symbol is a lamp made by carving up fresh fruit, which will rot within a week. That’s not demonic, that’s a subtle way of saying “YO, we gots so much food we can WASTE it, bitches!

    So if some preachy type gets in your face about letting your kids go trick-or-treating, tell them it’s about food, not fright.

    Cross-posted to my Tumblr

Health Vs Image

     I'm amused by the story that's been circulating about a gym which used "mermaid vs whale" comparisions in its advertising.  Not because of the creative response to the adverts, mind you, but because of the warped thinking behind both the adverts and the response.

     Neither "skinny" nor obesity are healthy, really, and that's assuming that what the gym meant by a whale was even actual obesity.  Don't forget that what the fashion industry calls "fat" isn't.  Besides that, gyms are supposed to be for gaining/maintaining muscle, not for making a fashion statement.

     Seeing how even the gym seems to have forgotten all of that in letting those ads be used would probably sadden me if I hadn't already written humanity off as being somewhat less intelligent than a ferret with a brain injury.

Got Christians? 2

The Moral Minority.

It's nice when your philosophical opponents wind up conceding that your arguments were correct all along.

The Rabbi Myer and Dorothy Kripke Centre for the Study of Religion and Society is devoted to, as they put it, "facilitating scholarly activity in the areas of religion and society, and promoting understanding between and among faith communities."  In short, they're theologians.

In 2005, they released this study.  One of the highlights, from my point of view, was this...

Indeed, the data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life” that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion. The least theistic secular developed democracies such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in these regards. The non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted. Contradicting these conclusions requires demonstrating a positive link between theism and societal conditions in the first world with a similarly large body of data — a doubtful possibility in view of the observable trends.

This is more noteworthy because it came from an ardently pro-theistic source.

We're probably always going to be stuck with a significant population of religious kooks on this planet, but as the percentage of atheists and agnostics rises and more data piles up proving that we're not a threat to order and polite society, we will be cease to be outcasts and begin to be recognised for what we are:  the minority of the human population that actually accomplishes the things that religious people merely pay lip service to.

Connected (Poster)

Silver Lining

     If people wondered why I have so little regard for humanity most of the time, the days following Anders Behring Breivik's terrorist attacks in Norway present an excellent example.

     Mainstream news outlets have been covering the story in detail... but the details of the print copy have changed as the details of the incident have emerged.  Before Breivik was arrested, speculation focussed on Islamic groups (because if something bad happens there must be a Muslim involved, or there's no story, apparently).  Once Breivik was in custody, it didn't take long for it to sink in that he looked rather pale for a Muslim. 

     Very little time passed before media outlets began changing the wording used to describe the attacks:  they scrambled to redefine him as a mass-murderer or gunman, rather than admit to yet another deadly instance of terrorism perpetrated by a white Christian.  I suspect the time between Breivik's arrest and the change of wording in the print copy was roughly equal to the time needed for doctors to shatter reporters' hopes that Breivik was an albino Arab.

     The acrobatics resorted to by the mainstream media came in spite of the blatantly political nature of Breivik's attacks, which almost tailors them to the very definition of a terrorist:  he attacked a youth camp that was operated by the Norwegian Labour Party.

     As if the failure of the media wasn't enough reason to shake one's head at the species, the failure of intellect of regular people is far worse.  The same type of hardline right-wingers who Anders Behring Breivik would have felt kinship with are turning out to be more numerous than one might have hoped:  a contributor to the National Post spotted postings on right-wing websites that claimed that the attacks were part of a conspiracy to deflect "populist" anger at recent financial bailouts; the first two results of a Google search for the phrase "breivik terrorist" are audio recordings of a former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State trying to debunk the rapidly-spreading conspiracy theory that the Norway Attacks were a false flag operation designed to make white Europeans out to be a security risk; a commenter on the page for this video insisted that the United States' government has motivation to crack down on "individualists" (which is what people in the militia movement call the militia movement) and that the Norway Attacks were part of a PR campaign to justify surveilance of them; and a major US radio host compared the slain children to the Hitler Youth in an attempt to stifle criticism of a terrorist whose politics were uncomfortably similar to his own.  It's sickening, really.

     However, for once there's been a silver lining to the bad news.  For once, my disgust with society at large is balanced by the demonstration of qualities I appreciate in people. 

     Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister Of Norway, has reacted to the attacks not with militarism or a call for more security spending, but with a call for more democracy, more openess, and more freedom.  The people of Norway have responded to that call:  Stoltenberg's politically-progressive Labour Party, specifically targeted by Breivik, has seen a massive surge in support.  As icing on the cake, it has come out that a number of Breivik's intended victims were rescued by a married lesbian couple who were nearby in a boat:  the resulting positive press for the lesbian community is a slap in the face to Breivik's right-wing Christian ideology.

     Seeing the reaction of Norwegian leaders and people to this incident has, I grudgingly admit, filled me with admiration for them:  for once there's a bit of shade from the harsh glare, a place where cooler heads have prevailed and reasonable thought has won out over feverish hysterics. 

     I stand with my fellow Northerners in calling for a strengthening of the institutions that men like Breivik seek to attack.
Connected (Poster)

Cursive's Passing

     "The handwriting of students who used a mixed style was faster than the handwriting of students who used either manuscript of cursive exclusively.  In addition, papers written in mixed... generally received higher ratings for legibility."
~ The Relationship Between Handwriting Style and Speed and Legibility, by Naomi Weintraub, Steve Graham, and Virginia W. Berninger.

     My experience being taught cursive in elementary school was incredibly frustrating:  teachers continued to insist that cursive was faster even after my stopwatch proved them wrong; cursive caused cognitive dissonance by using more ink than manuscript in an era when we were being taught to reduce use of everything; once we were required to use cursive exclusively we lost the ability to read our classmates' contributions to group projects, because no one can ever read another person's cursive quite properly.  I'm not even going to get into how Kafkaesquely insane it was to force students to use a form of handwriting that only the writer could ever completely understand.

     I was luckier than most.  Even after the age at which students were expected to use cursive exclusively for handwritten papers, my elementary school permitted me to submit typed ones (which was, as I call it, a tactical error).  I was ecstatic to find that my parents' old typewriter still worked, and started merrily clacking away at anything that was longer than a paragraph.  Most of my classmates were not so lucky, and I still feel bad for them that they had to suffer through cramped hands and long hours spent doing papers by hand.

     Consequently, I'm gratified to see that a proper study has proven that it is in fact faster to print.  I mean, I knew, but it's not as if I was ever in a position to collect the statistical data that would prove it.  Now that it has been proved, I'm doing a happy dance in between each word over here.

     That said, it's far more satisfying to me to see that cursive is finally starting to lose formal recognition

     Personally, I'm not going to miss cursive.  Some people are going to have a conniption fit at my saying that, but they're going to have to deal with it. 

     It's not that I don't appreciate handwritten material — I still write poetry in manuscript.  It's that my experience of being expected to use cursive exclusively for handwriting, when I knew it was slower and less legible than the alternative, caused me to dislike it.  That experience resulted in relief at the opportunity to use an old typewriter, and the two together caused me to prefer typed words over ones written in cursive.  I still hold that preference to this day. 

     And, really, we've come into an era in which paper and pens have been replaced by keyboards and monitors.  The small notepads that some people would carry in case they needed to write something down were the last holdouts, and smartphones have replaced even them.  Sure, leather-bound notepads look classier, but memos typed into my smartphone don't get dog-eared or smudged.  Also, you don't need an external light source to read smartphone memos in the dark, and that's kind of important sometimes.

     Now that cursive has gone from being less practical to being obsolete, I look forward to seeing it finally be thrown out. 

The Broken Machinery

    I always thought that it was one of the glaring flaws of capitalism that while the dullest minds are paid top dollar to be ground like a stone in a tumbler into an even duller mind, the sharpest minds are paid a fraction of what they spent to be sharpened...  and now I find out that the sharpening process apparently makes them more fragile to boot.

    Honestly, I'm astonished we haven't gone extinct as a species out of sheer incompetence by this point.
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