Ad Blocking Software – Strongly Recommended

Check out this pleading inanity from one of my (otherwise) favourite sites

Dearie me, am I to understand that it’s a problem for Physorg that I choose not to conform?

Idiots like this just don’t get it. Some of us are not just immune to advertising, we actively and passionately object to it as a manipulative abuse of bandwidth.

This antipathy is more prevalent, perhaps, in UK citizens than most because we have the Beeb, producing consistently high standards of broadcasting without commercial breaks. Before we had our hard-drive backed digital TV services we often had to wait two hours before getting to pee.

Nowadays, we can just pause the program, which neatly eliminates the one advantage that commercial breaks could boast. And boy does it make for a massive culture shock when we are exposed to American TV. That culture must be behind the sentiments expressed by this drivel.

They clearly believe it is their god given right to advertise to me. As my regular reader will know, I obviously don’t believe in god given rights. And, as it happens, I don’t believe in human rights either. I believe in Liberty – which is merely the absence of constraint – and Reciprocity – treat others as you would wish to be treated in return. That combination covers every conceivable ethical question you’ll ever confront; including whether or not to tolerate intrusive commercials on a web page.

And I see absolutely nothing which justifies any constraint whatsoever on my ability to install Adblock and not just ignore your adverts but remain blissfully unaware of their existence. Adblock is a free Firefox add-on – strongly recommended if you’re as allergic to ads as I am. And those who might be inclined to follow my recommendation will not confuse the previous sentence with “advertising” because they will know I have absolutely nothing to gain by that recommendation other than the knowledge I am spreading a little more contentment. My motives, are, therefore, entirely honorable. As I’m sure is true even of some commercials. But not many…

What Physorg and those who think like that obviously don’t understand is that if I was forced to suffer their sites with ads, I would simply exercise my liberty to avoid visiting those sites. How would that improve the human condition?


Flying like a bird | part 14/14 – YouTube

Inspirational. Even if it’s NOT real…

The web is currently divided between sceptics and believers. The sceptics are whingeing that it’s physically impossible. That’s because they’re assuming it’s human-powered flight. It isn’t. And no-one is pretending that it is. It’s servo assisted with battery-powered engines and controlled by Wii interfaces. All entirely plausible, subject only to the amount of battery power he needs and can carry – which would explain why he can only manage a couple of hundred metres – though that is about 3 times as far as the Wright Brothers first flight.

Clever stuff and the result of an engineering graduate’s 8 month R&D project. The whole 15 part story is on youtube. Well worth watching. This is the final part – the successful flight that made it all worthwhile.

I’d say he’s scored an A there…

If, that is, it’s real. And this story has become more interesting to me because it’s hotly disputed and yet impossible to either verify or refute. A classic Trusted Surveillance case study. It wouldn’t be an issue if he had a fully documented audit trail open to examination if disputed.

On the Up side, the project is plausible, as confirmed by the interview with Prof Bert Otten. I’ve been able to check him out and he really is a Professor of Neuromechanics at the University of Groningen.

On the Down side, Jarno Smeets is a pseudonym (hardly something I’m going to complain about) but one without any previous history. Like it was invented purely for the purpose of this project.

On the Up side, if it is a fake, I’d give him an A for that. The sheer amount of effort that has gone into it, fake or not, makes it, at the very least, a work of art.

On the Down side, if it was real, why on earth would he be so reluctant to repeat it, in front of the world’s cameras?

That last, for me at the moment, is the most significant fact. I can’t believe that anyone who had done that for real would be so reticent about repeating the feat. Indeed, failing to respond to the obvious demand would be bordering on the psychotic – given the huge appearance fees he could probably command, not to mention the obvious range of product endorsements he could subsequently select from. He would quickly and easily become a multi millionaire, which would in turn, fund his other no doubt equally ambitious projects. What kind of nutter would reject such an opportunity?

But even that’s not a clincher. He’s Dutch and the Scandinavians are notoriously prone to anti-commercialism. Think Linus Torvalds, ferinstance, who created Linux for free. Yes he has done well for himself as a result of the reputation that earned him. But that’s the point. He earned it. That could be the motivation of Mr Smeets…

The Documentary About Hiroshima and Nagasaki The U.S. Didn’t Want Us to See | Motherboard

you have to watch this (1946) video (which the government tried to suppress), in order to believe it.

to describe it as cool and objective is a gross understatement. Despite which, it packs a punch to match the topic. With lines like these:

the difference in the totals of destruction to lives and property between the two cities, suggests the importance of the special circumstances in their layout and construction. These differences have a direct bearing on the result of the bombing and must be considered in evaluating the effectiveness of atomic demolition

no wonder the government didn’t want it’s citizens (or anyone else) to see it. That would have made nuclear war so unattractive.

now follow the link to learn how it came to be…

The Documentary About Hiroshima and Nagasaki The U.S. Didn't Want Us to See | Motherboard.

Supernova SN 2011fe spotted just 11 hours after it exploded | Mail Online

This observation is typically material for Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog or Daily Mail Watch both of whom are the repository of stupid errors made by the tabloid press. But neither have picked up on this one to date, so I’ll fill in.

I grant you this is not going to keep you awake nights, but at the risk of appearing pernickety, the author of this errorfest appears to be a professional science journalist. Which is why his main error, repeated several times, is inexcusable. The Type 1a supernova is NOT the “brightest category” of supernova. If anything, it’s likely to be the least bright as it results from the smallest possible stellar mass capable of going supernova.

It’s true significance is that it is the highly predictable result of a white dwarf “accreting” extra mass from a companion star. At a certain critical mass (the “Chandrasekhar limit” – just under 1.4 solar masses), the star collapses and triggers the supernova. Because it is so predictable, its consistent brightness can be used as the “standard candle” required to measure the vast distances we have to cope with when we look beyond our solar system and galaxy. Most memorably, it was the observation of hundreds of distant Type 1a supernovae which allowed us to discover the accelerating expansion of the universe in the late 90s.

The real significance of this reportage is that it reminds us we cannot trust this newspaper (and many others) to be telling the truth.

Sometimes, of course, they are deliberately trying to deceive or obscure the facts in pursuit of their not so hidden agendae. But just as often, they fail simply because they don’t have the skills or intellect required to distinguish between fact and fiction. That limitation is not restricted to matters scientific. It’s just easier to demonstrate here than elsewhere…

Supernova SN 2011fe spotted just 11 hours after it exploded | Mail Online.

Team creates computerized method for matching images in photos, paintings, sketches

Trying to wrap my head around how they encode – without apparent human interpretation – the unique aspects of a given image. If they have cracked that, the major problems associated with image recognition are about to melt away…

Team creates computerized method for matching images in photos, paintings, sketches.

OPERA review serves up a feast for physics geeks • The Register

OPERA review serves up a feast for physics geeks • The Register.

Another nice summary of the science by the Reg.