Posts from September 2005

28
Sep 05

EAT PIES!

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 295 views

As in PIES from the ungooglable pseudo-pret café chain EAT, rather than what was written on the pitch-side hoardings in “billy the fish” strips.

Unfortunately as I reached the counter the turkey and stuffing ones sold out, and I didn’t fancy a “fisherman’s pie” so I had a SOSSIDGE AND MASH PIE which was a treat for pie theorists* consisting as it did ov:

Thin pastry case with poppy seeds in
Layer of spicy/herby sausage meat
Layer, some might say lid, of potato with grain mustard, not quite at the consistancy of mash in my opinion, cooked through but a touch al dente (not a bad thing), more crushed than mashed.
Melted cheese and a cherry (tomato) on top.

It wasn’t as dry as it sounds either, the sossiemeat was quite juicy. The only thing really missing was a big dollop of red sauce. Also it comes in a cute little box like those ones you see in american films that have chinese in. All in all a success, but at £3.75 more of a treat than an everyday option I think.

*I know it’s a touch early in the year for pie theorising, but there was a certain nip in the air this morning, that made me think “ah piepiepiepie discussions are almost upon us again”…

Mysterious Stuff – The Equator

Blog 71 comment • 1,711 views

I’m not a scientific guy. The physics questions on University Challenge make me feel nauseous and my continuing ignorance is only validated by the Oxfam models who answer them.

But, with the equator, I want to understand. One foot north of the equator, water empties anti-clockwise, one foot south it empties clockwise. Directly over, it goes straight down with nay a swirl in either direction. Standing on the equator, you can balance an egg on the end of a nail and you weigh considerably less.

The scientific cause of this is the Coriolis effect, which (as I understand it) is a deflection of air and is therefore potentially under the influence of local factors. I’ve tried it and seen both northern and southern hemispheres draining water the ‘wrong’ way. I’m also told that the equator is constantly on the move. In Ecuador, there is a town called Middle of the World which was built directly over the equator. The equator then left town.

I’ve seen these experiments performed on two continents with a bunch of the most sceptical people you could ever meet. If it was manipulation, it certainly wasn’t obvious. How easy is it to drain water without a swirl when it is liberally poured on high? Have you ever tried balancing an egg on a nail? Why, when weighing yourself on the equator are you lighter than a foot in either direction? The cake fans of the party were unconcerned with the science.

WHO REVIEWS #7: Vampire hunters in Stoke-on-Trent?

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 249 views

GOTH OPERA by Paul Cornell, featuring the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa… or is it?!

“The age of humanity on this world has come to an end. The long night is starting. The age of the undead is upon us”.

First things first. You’ll be hearing more about this Who author. As my sickness devours me, certain authors keep returning to my mind. And the maddest, most menktastic, the utter fruitloopiest of the lot is none other than Mr Paul Cornell; the dude responsible for putting the Eighth Doctor into the Realm of the Faeries and turning one of the Doctor’s then companions into a half-woman, half-TARDIS whilst the Brigadier embarks on a post-traumatic ‘relationship’ with Queen Mab… but I’ll get onto that another time! This is one of his books in the Missing Adventures series, which really gives Cornell the chance to go absolutely head over heels in Gallifreyan history whilst still keeping a brisk place on the ‘current’ plot in 1994’s Manchester featuring the Time Lady restored Vampire Messiah and his followers… which happen to include a Trakenite by the name of Nyssa. LIEK OMG! Nyssa = vampz0r one one one!

We meet the Fifth Doctor playing cricket in Australia, where Nyssa is attacked by a demonic Child and Tegan fights off a 40s style Vampire called Jeremy by thrusting the works of Primo Levi at him. Having never read the sod I can only wonder if that in 2005’s London, having faith in the Seal of Rassilon would be enough to create a faith-based assault on the senses of a modern day Child of the Night but I digress – readers, methinks you should stick with the garlic shots. Whilst Nyssa is in the thrall of the Change and taken to Vampire Messiah Yarven’s lair, the Doctor and Tegan find Manchester in fear of the numbers of recent missing. Trying to track down Nyssa, they find the Yarven has teamed up with a Time Lady from the Doctor’s Prydonian academica, by the name of Ruath to plunge the world into eternal darkness/create world of vampires yadayda, I mean, we’ve all seen Buffy haven’t we? Vampire tropes are often disappointingly familiar, but the motives for such eternal darkness prove to be entirely different for the Vampire Messiah and his rescuer. Whilst Ruath is convinced she is changing the destiny of the Time Lords for the better, by fusing their already 98% vampire genetic material into 100% undead, that the Time Lords can again gain superiority over the universe and change their foreboding future, Yarven plans to take Gallifrey for himself, and make the Undead free to rule ALL SPACE AND TIME – wooooo!! WHO SHALL WIN EH READERS? Far be it from me to spoil the surprise. Yet I can exclusively reveal that an event happens in the end of the book, appearing to have no effect, but when the same thing happens in Planet of the Giants it has rather hem hem, SIZEABLE effects if you know what I mean, so beware if you’re some kind of continuity freakzone.

Yet, despite the presence of vampires and gothic castles etc, this book still feels a bit much; the ancient Gallifreyan vampire cults, the bow-ships of Rassilon and the epilogue featuring Romana reading the story of Omega and The Other* casting the Great Vampire out of all space and time are fabulous, but each time we follow Tegan casting around Manchester trying to feebly figure out what the Doctor figured out 20 minutes ago the story drags. A deliberate attempt to remain true to the televised Fifth and Tegan adventures, I wonder. But still, whilst the lacks the Gothic Horrors of Stephen Marley’s Managra, Goth Opera remains a rather good read, if you can bear the somewhat relentlessness of th33 VAMPz0r and get to the REALLY juicy bits.

8 bowships out of 10.

*who is TOTALLY the Doctor in his pre-incarnations IF YOU ASK ME!! Ka Faraq Gatri roxx0-rz!!!! And if you get THAT reference then you are SUCH A GEEK.

27
Sep 05

The Incredible World of Uri-Geller.com

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uri-geller.com

When faced with writing about Uri Geller, it is hard not to fall into the trap of sounding perpeptually sarcastic. The man is a massive fraud. As such it’s hard to take any of his claims seriously and it’s ever so tempting just to write in an ironic mode that presupposes his lack of veracity. This is especially true because, unlike a lot of frauds, he seems to know that it is just tricks. Most people who have looked in to how Uri operates get this impression. This is not the self-deception of the scientific fraud, it is the systematic deception of the gullible for personal gain. There was always going to be a magician who went that extra step in insisting it wasn’t just illusion and clever deception, the last trick to learn in this line of work is to stay the right side of the law.

This does leave us with one large unexplained phenomena: how Geller can live with himself? That’s still not sarcasm by the way.

Of course there is a pay off to being such a massive fraud – the weak minded in all walks of life are going to be impressed with you, and a sort of (internally agonised) fame will follow. Uri has managed to get beyond fame and has ultimately become a “brand” now – he even tried to sue IKEA over their “Uri” line of furniture that had bent legs. It’s the name you can trust in new-age pseudoscientific bollocks. So his books, like “Uri Geller’s Little Book of Mind Power”, sell all too well. Like all self-help gift counter-pack books the UG’sLBoMP is full of vacuous drivel –– the stuff you, anyone, can make up, to make someone else feel better about themselves (until they realise it’s nonsense). But it’s Uri’s name that makes that extra impulse purchase happen.

When he threatened to sue a 1997 documentary that exposed his fraud, it was over film footage used without his permission. It was not over defamation, but revenue protection. The fair usage/dealing provisions of British copyright laws meant Uri had no chance. To save face he complained to the Broadcasting Standards Council, but (after some exchanges) it was forthrightly rejected.

He even tried to get money out of Nintendo for the spoon-wielding Pokemon Kadabra (Yun-Geller in Japanese). I haven’t found any evidence that Jackie Chan has tried the same over Hitmon-Chan (nor the estate of Bruce Lee over Hitmon-Lee).

Thirty years down the line, though his many lies, exaggerations and craven publicity-seeking are all publicly documented, and though his magician’s tricks are easily replicated, Uri still stands as a man of power – a testament to Barnum’s old line that “the public loves to be fooled”. He’s a man with the supernatural powers of Paul Daniels but with a pathological need to lie and deceive. Someone who makes money out of fraud.

He makes my skin crawl simply by appearing on television.

Now that’s magic.

WHO BUILT THE MOON WATCH: Chapter 5

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Just when it looked like we had a breakthrough in Chapter 4, chapter 5 goes off on yet another – “wow, isn’t the moon amazing” tangent. It firstly examines the old wives tale that people go nuts at full moon, find substantial experimental evidence and then completely disregards the probably reason: namely it is lightest at full moon. Instead, via a tortuous route involving molluscs it suggests that humans can sense the periods of the moon. OF COURSE WE CAN: WE HAVE EYES.

This tangent does go via the four seasons and the angle of rotation of the Earth and some nice little facts that with just a few angles different the Earth could well be much more unfriendly to life, and even uninhabitable. Or at least full of fish. (It also makes the ludicrous assumption that higher life forms would not exist on a waterworld because it is impossible to discover fire under water). What has any of this got to do with who built the moon? Well, nothing really, yet again we do not get much closer to the nub. However the moon does help create tidal motion which in itself helps stabilise the Earth’s angle of rotation, stopping it from falling over (as Venus and Mars have done in the past). So another chapter hinting towards some sort of “the moon was built to help foster life” argument.

26
Sep 05

Strangest Thing No.19 – Statues That Drink Milk

Blog 71 comment • 2,111 views

Alix Campbell writes:

Statues, icons and paintings cry and bleed all the time. It can happen to almost any figure – the Virgin Mary, Jebus, any number of obscure saints, and even a Dutch statue of Elvis. Liquids exuded include blood, tears and oil. Usually hailed as miracles, weeping statues are often claimed to have healing properties, or to signal the dawn of a better time for the world, or as warning or remonstration for our wicked ways. Pilgrims rush to the statues for a squint at the bizarre sight, often signalling the dawn of increased profits for whichever house of whichever God houses the leaky icon.

There are two explanations for this strange phenomenon:
1 – It is a sign from God, or another higher power.
2 – There is a rational explanation, possibly, but not necessarily, involving some kind of hoax.
I’m 90% sure it’s number two.

There are numerous accounts of weeping statues, and plenty of photos, often rather grisly, but decent scientific explanations and details of tests on statues are not so plentiful. Most accounts are vague, or recounted by a third party. I could find no impartial accounts – instead there are all sorts of web pages claiming that these are miracles that science has yet to find an answer for. The extent of investigation into this has been to analyse the liquids – tears and blood examined have both been shown to be human. This somewhat empty fact has been accepted as proof of the miraculous nature of these events, but all it really shows is that the liquid can be identified. It does not point to an otherworldly mechanism behind the event. Weeping statues have been ‘faked’ by people curious to see if it could be done, and professional stage magic techniques can recreate similar effects, with no added divine intervention, which suggests that a somewhat less than heavenly explanation could be more likely.

In 1998 a statue of Our Lady housed in a comatose young girl’s bedroom apparently started weeping oil. People travelled for miles to pay to see this, and there were stories of a young boy being healed of a leg injury. However, the oil was analysed and shown to be 80% vegetable oil and 20% chicken fat, and the boy had been expected to recover anyway. It has been suggested that the oil was simply poured on the statue when no one was looking. The family had allowed a film crew in to document the miracle, yet would not allow them to film the statue for any length of time, leading to the above explanation. The family had good reason to allow the film crew in – they were getting paid for it. I would expect that there are people and organisations throughout the world that need money enough to fake a miracle, and there are certainly people gullible enough to believe it.

There is a casualness and subjectivity surrounding the reporting and investigation of weeping statues which means that they do remain a bit of a mystery – there’s never anyone around to really check whether anyone is filling the statue up with blood/ tears/ oil. Tempting as it is to label these inexplicable occurrences, there is really nothing that actually suggests they are anything more than hoaxes. Credulous miracle hungry people are happy to buy into this phenomenon, which is really not so different from a magician’s flashy prestidigitations, and were it not for the religious aspect which seems to make people suspend intelligence and logic, they would be dismissed as a clever fraud.

Also see – Hindu statues drinking milk. In 1995 statues of Ganesh in India started ‘drinking’ milk, and pretty soon statues all over the world were lapping the white stuff up. Although sceptics might say that the milk is absorbed into porous statues, I have to agree with one Parmeesh Soti, who pointed out that “It cannot be a hoax. Where would all that milk go to?” Indeed. Milk doesn’t just disappear. Statues must drink it. Mystery solved.

I hope I’m not wrong about all this. I really don’t want to go to Hell.

WHO BUILT THE MOON WATCH: Chapter 4

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 1,385 views

Writers are still being very coy about who built the moon in Chapter 4. Instead we have a potted history of the space race, which is interesting la, but no-one is suggesting Neil Armstrong built the moon. Maybe some mooncastles. There is a bit of a lovefest for 2001 which may give a hint at where this boon is going too. It even outlines the conspiracy theory that no-one had been to the moon, and demolishes it. The subtext is that the authors are not loonies like the moon conspiracy theorists. Nevertheless this episode is tagged with the following caveat: “We do believe conspiracies happen, because people conspire…”

So having proved that the moon exists and that we have been there Chapter 4 then gets on to Apollo 13 (they’ve probably seen the movie) and the anomalies regarding moon rock and the moon itself. Namely during the accident the jettisonned pod struck the moon, and – to quote “the moon rang like a bell”. Putting aside how anything can ring like a bell without an atmosphere, the book does inflate the importance of this sentence a touch too much. Nevertheless the point is that the moon is much lighter than it should be, leading to some exciting conclusions.
a) The Moon is hollow.
b) The moon is a giant Malteser.

The smart money is on b), because then we can definitively say that Forest Mars made the moon. Which in itself would be sort of ironic.

Next stop Ducks Deluxe!*

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 934 views

I am listening to a track by THE ROOGALATOR! Another tiny ambition fulfilled, it’s called “Love And The Single Girl” and it’s a bit ‘jazzy’, like a naffer Joe Jackson maybe. It will not be being played at the next Poptimism, which will be on October 14th and which is perhaps best described as “the usual”.

I’ve updated the sidebar with permalinks to some of the other pop things I’m doing. I’m hardly abandoning NYLPM but the change of scenery helps me relax a bit.

*or maybe Grab Grab The Haddock

J.G.BALLARD: “My work is done here”

Do You SeePost a comment • 258 views

“The crew of the Blyth-based Oceania accidentally left their radio switched to the emergency channel on Thursday as they were off the North East coast. They then settled down to watch the film Crash on a TV which was next to the radio – not realising it was being broadcast over a 30-mile radius.”

pleasingly, the headline and strap refer to Crash as, respectively, “sexy film” and “an erotic film”.

also: the phrase “blyth-based oceania” sounds like shakespeare!

WHO BUILT THE MOON WATCH: Chapter 3 SuppleMENTAL

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 230 views

More on the Big Whack theory and its problems…
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tothemoon/origins2.html

Note that the Nova website is pbs.org and therefore completely Proven By Science. There is even a video of the model.