Category: Humor


Turns out it is all a dream, err, simulation: Physicists and proving the Matrix

2003. “Oxford professor Nick Bostrom suggested that we may be living in a computer simulation.” IO9 reports that now

Silas Beane and his team at the University of Bonn in Germany, [argue that] a simulation of the universe should still have constraints, no matter how powerful. These limitations, they argue, would be observed by the people within the simulation as a kind of constraint on physical processes.

So, how could we ever hope to identify these constraints? Easy: We just need build our own simulation of the universe and find out. And in fact, this is fairly close to what the physicists are actually trying to do. To that end, they’ve created an ultra-small version of the universe that’s down to the femto-scale (which is even smaller than the nano-scale).

Apparently, certain things that should behave one way will deviate and that deviation will be the clue.

OK this work seems quite wild. (study here if you like) But IO9 points out that this first step could lead to “more powerful versions in which molecules, cells, and even humans themselves might someday be generated. ” I am not sure whether these more powerful versions would be new simulated worlds or new things in the current simulation. Perhaps it is both. Ah another film nod! I rather liked the end of Men in Black when our blue marble that held a galaxy in it was part of another marble holding another galaxy and that was being thrown around when not stored in a bag. Even if we are in a simulation, as my friend John Scalzi said on a show about what happens if aliens show up here, we still have to take out the trash.


“Yes, Prime Minister” on Political Debates

“If you have nothing to say, say nothing. But better, have something to say and say it, no matter what they ask. Pay no attention to the question, make your own statement. If they ask you the same question again, you just say, ‘That’s not the question’ or ‘I think the more important question is this:’  Then you make another statement of your own.”

Prime Minister Jim Hacker


“Learn English: Your In America”

My playful title is inspired by what I just heard Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, Republican of Virginia, say on the PBS News Hour. He was explaining the plank in the proposed 2012 Republican platform endorsing English as the national language (carried over from the 2008 platform). He stressed how important speaking “good English” is to the American dream.  He concluded: “so that was the collective, uh, thoughts of the committee.” Me agree.



“Yes Minister” on the 2012 Presidential Campaign

Sir Humphrey Appleby:  If you want to be really sure that the Minister doesn’t accept [a proposal], you must say the decision is “courageous.”

Bernard Woolley:  And that’s worse than “controversial?”

Sir Humphrey Appleby:  Oh, yes!  “Controversial” only means “this will lose you votes”. “Courageous” means “this will lose you the election!”


Could It Be? Mermaids? No. – U.S. Confirms No Evidence of Mermaids

Great. Now the U.S. government thinks we need reassurance that there is no evidence that mermaids exist. Apparently after a Discovery Channel show, a couple people wrote in and asked NOAA about mermaids. Here is the NOAA post. Per the BBC

The article was written from publicly available sources because “we don’t have a mermaid science programme”, National Ocean Service spokeswoman Carol Kavanagh told the BBC.

Yipee! Our science world is moving towards trademark law’s reliance on a few people’s confusion as signifying many must be confused in ways that require some action.

I much prefer the Disneyland Voyage Under the Sea script

Captain Nemo: Others treat any concept of Atlantis as pure fantasy, along with legends of sea serpents and mermaids.

Mr. Baxter: Begging your pardon, sir. But, did you say sea serpents are mere fantasies?

Captain Nemo: Belay there mate! Anyone in his right mind knows there’s no such thing as a sea serpent or mermaids. Mr. Baxter, if you think you’re seeing mermaids and sea monsters, you’ve been submerged too long!


B is for Bentham, B is for Branson; Of Heads As Odes

What is it with Brits and busts? Bentham asked that his head be preserved (and his body) as part of the auto-icon. I was listening to Wendy Brown’s lecture on Bentham and she reminded me of this oddity. As she explained, Bentham seemed to think that statues were less utile than a preserve body. The effort failed in that the body was preserved but the head shriveled and a wax head was needed to replace it. Now Richard Branson is apparently following in Bentham’s footsteps but understands the transient nature of things. He has embraced that nature so much that his take on busts is an ice cube mold of his head. Yes if you fly first, oh excuse me, upper class, on Virgin, you too can have this treasure. The Colbert Report clip below is a blast. To me, the whole idea evokes transubstantiation. Or maybe for science fiction fans, Heinlein’s grok in that way the Martians do, you know eating the bodies of the dead. Branson, that clever man, had found he does not have to die for us to commune with him. We just need to join his upper class. Now what if we make a similar mold? Ah let the lawsuits begin!

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