Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, June 18-24, 2017

Here’s a bundle of stuff to get the mental corn popping.

Cathy Alex introduces us to Autumn Peltier: the twelve year old Indigenous girl who speaks for water. CBC

Ben Chapman looks at Finland’s experiment in universal basic income. The Indepedent

Adam Greenfield introduces us to a sociology of the smartphone. I’ll admit, Phil can be irritated by how much I use my phone, but my addiction’s not that bad in perspective. Longreads

I listened to this interview last Sunday—so good. And so important. Michael Enright interviews Daphne Merkin about staying alive despite her near-constant wish to die. The Sunday Edition on CBC.

Emma Young uncovers Melanie Goodwin’s life with multiple personalities. BBC

Alex Williams: Prozac nation is now the united states of Xanax. How anxiety is taking over as the leading mental illness in the US. The New York Times

David Nield reports: forgetting things could actually make you smarter. Science Alert

ASAP Science explores memory. Can you remember this?

 

Kristy Hamilton: researchers reveal the multi-dimensional universe of the brain. Mind blowing—lol! IFLS

Bec Crew reports: the first filmed DNA replication changes everything we thought we knew. Science Alert

SciShow asks, can you be allergic to sunlight? Oh, yeah.

 

Samantha Masunaga interviews Sue Finley, who was hired as a “computer” in 1958, about her long career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The LA Times

I do not help my wife. Ladies pass it on

Casey Smith: DNA shows that cats domesticated themselves (ahem, or us …). National Geographic

Annalee Newitz shows how cats are extreme outliers among domestic animals. Ars Technica

Elephant conservation is more important than you think. Samburu for The Economist.

This ferret really wants her human to love her babies. Bored Panda

Happy-making music for the week: Walk off the Earth covers Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of you.”

 

Be well until the weekend!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 9-15, 2017

Pop that mental corn! It’s good for you!

Petula Dvorak: Mary Magdelene has been reviled as a prostitute. That’s not how she was portrayed in the Bible. The Washington Post

Angela Gemmill reports on the latest developments on a new combined art gallery and library for Sudbury. CBC

Drew Hayden Taylor considers smudging to be spiritual, but not religious. The Globe and Mail

Caitlin Thompson reports on the Heiltsuk village that is three times older than the pyramids and what it means for indigenous oral history. Coast Mountain News

Michaeleen Doucleff explains how scientists cracked a 50 year old mystery about measles. NPR

Andrew North: how Mongolia is getting palliative care right. Quartz

Belinda Luscombe: Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Option B, is a guide for finding life after the death of a loved one. Time

Robyn Reisch explains why intelligent people choose to be less social. Intelligence.com

Dan Dowling says, here’s why you can’t stay focused. Entrepreneur

Olga Khazan examines recent studies that may prove difficult childhoods can improve cognition. The Atlantic

Alice G. Walton lists seven habits that may actually improve brain function. Forbes

Yes, you can measure white privilege. Michael Harriot for The Root.

Stephen Hui: five reasons why we should stop calling white people “Caucasian.” The Georgia Straight

Hannah Devlin discovers why AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases. The Guardian

Natalie Wolchover covers the retiree who discovered an elusive mathematical proof. Wired

Rob Waugh: Hubble just spotted something massive coming out of Uranus. Yes, you may giggle. Metro

Phil Plait shares a video from the ESA’s Gaia project: how the sky may look in 5 million years. Blastr

Physicists say they’ve created a fluid with negative mass. Holy crap is right. Fiona MacDonald for Science  Alert.

It’s okay to be smart looks at the relationship between dogs and humans.

 

And minute earth cover the feline side of the tale. Tail?

 

See you on the weekend!

Be well, my lovelies 🙂

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, March 26-April 1, 2017

All sorts of stuff to get your mental corn popping this week.

Tad Friend exposes Silicon Valley’s quest for eternal life. The New Yorker

Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel talk perimenopause and menopause. Lenny

Alex Myles: how being an empath can lead to adrenal fatigue, insomnia, and exhaustion. Elephant Journal

Lori Day: aging while female is not your worst nightmare. Feminist Current

Gisela Wolf says that people who hit the snooze button are more intelligent, more creative, and happier. The Independent

Veritasium: The science of thinking. You won’t learn anything unless you’re uncomfortable.

 

ASAP Science: This does not equal that. Correlation vs. causation.

 

Your animal life is over. Your machine life has just begun.” Mark O’Connell for The Guardian.

Ryan F. Mandelbaum reports on a new theory that connects dark matter, black holes, and gravitational waves. Gizmodo

Joanna Moorhead rediscovers her wild child cousin, surrealist painter Leonora Carrington. The Guardian

The Economist: can we know what animals are thinking? Medium

Jordan Pearson presents some of the evidence that proves cats are actually nice. Motherboard

Overtone singing never ceases to amaze me. Anna-Maria Hefele

 

For your listening pleasure: Minds Without Fear – Imogen Heap

 

And that was your thoughty for the week.

On the weekend, I’ll be covering more WorldCon 2016.

Be well until then, my friends.

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 19-25, 2017

It’s time to pop that mental corn, people.

In the war between Baby Boomers and Millennials, we’ve forgotten the hard-working, hard-playing Generation X. Um, no. We haven’t. Interesting article nonetheless. David Barnett for The Independent.

Jon Brooks: Girl? Boy? Both? Neither? A new generation overthrows gender. KQED Science

How slavery changed the DNA of African Americans. Michael White for the Pacific Standard.

Sarah Dziedzic discusses African-Canadian history with Cheryl Foggo. Canadian Living

Tristan Hopper recounts how smallpox decimated BC. The National Post

Bruce Kasanoff: intuition is the highest form of intelligence. Forbes

Anna Lovind: what if you’re on the wrong train?

I love language, and so, when I saw this article on Queens, the linguistic hub of the world, I had to share. Thanks, Lori. You always post teh awesome. Gus Lubin for The Business Insider.

This makes me sad, though. Kat Eschner: four things that happen when a language dies. The Smithsonian Magazine

Elizabeth Kolbert writes about why facts don’t change our minds. The New Yorker

Phil Plait: SpaceX nails the landing after an historic launch. Blastr

Umir Abrar is slightly embarrassed. A giant, dark galaxy is orbiting ours, but astronomers just noticed it. Physics Astronomy

Seven Earth-sized planets found orbiting around a nearby (relatively speaking) star. Phil Plait for Blastr.

NASA presents a celebration of clouds.

Brian Cox explains how the Large Hadron Collider disproves the existence of ghosts. BBC

Healthy Holistic Living shows you how to make a bee waterer to help support pollinating insects 🙂

Lauren Cassani Davis: horses can read human facial expressions (more than dogs or chimpanzees). The Atlantic

Moby just released four hours of free music composed for yoga and meditation. Educate Inspire Change

Imogen Heap – Run-time.

 

I hope you’ve got some good ideas to fuel you through the week.

See you Saturday for my February 2017 update 🙂

Be well until then!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 11-17, 2016

If your brain’s already gone on holiday, have some thoughty fun with these offerings 🙂

Saw last week that Alan Thicke has passed away, too. It’s been such a sad year for performers and artists 😦 And political unrest. And Syria . . . Take heart. Here are 99 reasons 2016 was a great year. Medium

Christopher Dickey shares the tale of angels of the resistance (and one serial killer) in Nazi-occupied Paris. The Daily Beast

UN Women takes a stand against gender-based violence.

 

Eugene Soltes explores the psychology of white-collar criminals. The Atlantic

Matt Blitz tells the real story behind the myth of Area 51. Popular Mechanics

Annalee Newitz investigates the lost city of Cahokia under the St. Louis suburbs. Ars Technica

Amanda Gefter interviews Donald D. Hoffman: the case against reality. One of my favourite bits: “… we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion …” The Atlantic

Peter Dockrill: cellular reprogramming has been used to reverse the aging process in animals. Science Alert

Simon Oxenham explains why bees could be the secret to superhuman intelligence. BBC

Peter Brannen examines a possible break in one of evolution’s biggest mysteries. The Atlantic

Chris Jones reports on Sara Seager, the woman who might find us another Earth. The New York Times Magazine

Watch this cool BBC video about how one woman with Parkinson’s regained the ability to write and draw.

 

Robby Berman reports on filmmaker Adam Rosenberg’s hilarious video in which he shares some of his nocturnal musings. It’s called Somniloquist and you have to watch it. Nearly peed myself laughing. Slate

Olga Khazan explains how magic mushrooms help patients with severe anxiety and depression. The Atlantic

Lauren Vinopal lists the 18 best houseplants for cleaning the air, according to NASA. Fatherly

Julia Shaw: I’m a scientist, and I don’t believe in facts. Scientific American

George Dvorsky reports on what the brightest supernova ever seen really was. Gizmodo

Natalie Wolchover: quantum gravity research could reveal the true nature of time. Wired

‘Tis the season, so here’s sommat from Grimfrost on Vikings, Santa, and Christmas 🙂

 

Honest to Paws introduces us to the Akhal-Teke, the most beautiful horse in the world.

Hope your mental corn’s a-poppin’ fit to see you through the holiday frenzy 🙂

Have a good one, everyone!

thoughtythursday2016

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 17-23, 2016

Lots of videos for your edutainment this week 🙂

Science confirms: men are terrified of smart women. I was sceptical. Not all men are like Phil, or most of the men I know, I guess. The Mind Journal.

Speaking of smart women . . . Melissa McCarthy can’t get respect. The Vulture.

Lolly Daskal shares seven rituals successful people use to de-stress and stay productive. Inc.

Jordan Gray asks four honest-as-fuck questions that we can use to chart our courses to bliss.

Money can buy happiness, but only if you spend it the right way. Quartz.

Tor Constantino helps us switch from pursuing happiness to being happy with these five tips. Entrepreneur.

James Webb writes about existential depression in gifted children. Creatives of any age tend to succumb to this. The Unbounded Spirit.

Time captures the aftermath of the recent Japan earthquakes.

Tesla unveils a new battery that can power your home off the grid. Eat Tomorrow.

NASA saw something come out of a black hole for the first time. Blastr.

On SciShow: Restless leg syndrome. It’s a thing. I have it when I get anaemic.

 

It’s okay to be smart looks at how slime molds are redefining our idea of intelligence.

 

ASAP Thought wonders, what makes tattoos permanent?

 

And . . . should you swear more often?

 

Ask a Mortician delves into a bog body murder mystery.

 

Patrick Lynch supplies proof that the Pythagorean Theorem predated Pythagoras. Phys.org

The White Wolf Pack shares some amazing photos of the Sami, Finland’s indigenous people.

If you like abandoned places as much as I do, you owe it to yourself to check out Iris van Wolferen’s site.

Dangerous Minds presents Herbert Baglione’s eerie shadow paintings in an abandoned psychiatric hospital.

Ten really weird crow facts. Aves Noir.

Beethoven’s 5th in the style of Chopin by Syd R. Duke.

 

Les frissons musicale! The Amalgamation Choir.

 

And, on that note (pun intended) I’m out of here until next Tipsday!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 28, 2014-Jan 3, 2015

Peg Fitzpatrick shares Elizabeth Gilbert’s Happiness Jar project. Write the happiest moment of your day down and put it in the jar. It’s as simple as that.

The seven habits of happy people that they never talk about. Mind Body Green.

The age of loneliness is killing us. The Guardian.

WikiHow explains how to recognize a psychopath.

Back in September, just before DevLearn, Twist recorded a conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson about science literacy and the future of work. Awesome stuff.

The eight books Neil believes everyone should read to understand the thinking that has historically driven western culture. Brainpickings.

Moar Neil, this time from the Business Insider: Why role models are overrated. It starts a playlist, but they’re all interesting videos . . .

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This article by Keith E. Stanovich for The Scientific American made me think about thinking. Metathinking? Anyway, it’s about dysrational thought and intelligence.

Thought we were more enlightened than this? I did too. Excellent reality check and novel fodder. i09.

Ten comics intended to shut down terrible arguments (but that might really only inflame the situation—please use with caution). i09.

These ten Futurama jokes will make you smarter. i09.

Another study confirms that ereaders disturb proper sleep patterns leading to various health complications. If you read anything before sleeping, make it a paper book. NPR.

The science of sleep: dreaming, depression, and how REM sleep regulates negative emotions. Brainpickings.

Why is NASA looking at your Christmas lights from space? Futurity.

We didn’t get to see this, but apparently there was a comet that could be seen with the naked (or binoculared) eye on New Year’s. The Christian Science Monitor.

There’s this star and it’s headed straight for our solar system. IFLS.

The Large Hadron Collider is coming back online at double the power to track down that tricky Higgs Boson and solve more of the mysteries of the universe. The Independent.

Archaeologists have unearthed a 6000 year old mega-temple built by a matriarchal society. World.Mic

These photographs of ancient trees are absolutely fabulous. BoredPanda.

Here are the top five National Geographic videos of 2014. Varied topics, but all fascinating.

People buy the strangest things. The Examiner.

An old-timey cover of Stay with me by Christina Gatti:

 

This guy casts his boxer puppy as Indiana Bones. Too kawaii for words. i09.

That’s your thoughty for the week.

See you Saturday!

Thoughty Thursday

Series discoveries

I haven’t posted about my television viewing since the fall. At that time, I wrote of my disappointments with various television series in the past.

I had some fairly high hopes for some of the new series. That’s what I’m going to spend a little time on today.

First, I’ll remind you that I do watch television and movies with a writer’s eye. That is, I look at the plot lines and the story overall, the character development, and I try to analyze why I like watching it, and not simply accept that I do and blank out on the couch for an hour.

I’m a critical thinker. What can I say?

So the new shows I’ve watched and liked this season are:

Almost Human

When I saw this one listed and read the preview, I thought that it would be a take on I, Robot, the novel by Asimov, not the Will Smith interpretation, which I must say was entertaining, but had as much to do with the text upon which it was based as Blade Runner had with Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Plus, there was the added attraction of Karl Urban. Hey, I don’t always have to be deep and thought-y, do I?

I’m enjoying AH, though it has been basically police procedural with a small twist for the most part. I’m waiting for the pay off of the Detective Kennex’s inciting incident: the failed assault which resulted in the deaths of his squad, the loss of his leg, and a 17 month coma.

Kennex bears the responsibility for the failure of the assault and the loss of his squad. He is teamed with a DRN android whose line has a history for going crazy. So two pariahs in arms. A buddy drama.

Bitten

This one is a mid-season offering from Space based on the Kelly Armstrong novel of the same name. It’s about werewolves, in the broad sense.

I’ve only seen a few episodes so far, and while the main plot continues through each episode, the cast is still in the character development stage. After establishing the crisis (murders of humans by renegade werewolves, or mutts), the series has gone into backstory mode.

The jury’s out on this one.

Dracula

I’m enjoying Dracula far less than I thought I would.

I appreciate the reengineering of the story and the tie in with Tesla (Greyson, Dracula’s American Industrialist cover is developing a new energy source that threatens the oil and coal interests of the wealthy in Britain). I like the strong(ish) women characters.

It’s too easy to dislike Harker, though, and the highlight of the show (for me) is Renfield, the voice of reason in a howling vortex of loose plot threads.

It’s hard to admit I like Renfield better than Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’s Dracula.

The concept isn’t strong enough to breathe life into the undead. Eye-candy aside, if I miss a week, I find I don’t really mind.

Intelligence

This is another mid-season offering and I like the premise, but I’m not certain about it yet.

An agent named Gabriel, with a special genetic affinity, has a computer chip installed in his brain. He can access the internet anytime he wants. The project is called “Clockwork.”

He’s not only a kick-ass spy, but he is also an asset, and so must be protected. They bring in a secret service operative to do this, and though Riley does prove herself, I was left wondering at the choice.

There seems to be a lot of potential in the series, but there is also a lot of potential for bad science and plot holes.

In the first episode, another person has the chip implanted. This, of course, becomes Gabriel’s nemesis. His wife ends up being a terrorist and she kills herself in a suicide bombing. Almost immediately, sparks seem to be flying between Gabriel and Riley, and I was disappointed in how they handled the whole situation. Gabriel was initially so devastated by his wife’s defection and death that he tried to hide in a bottle.

In any case. We’ll have to wait and see on this one, too.

Once upon a time in Wonderland

Like its parent show, Once Upon a Time, OUaTiW turns the Disney standard on its head and does a bizarre bit of a mash-up with the main character.

In this version, Alice is a young woman, having survived both her adventures in Wonderland, and the battle in the “real” world against those who believe her to be insane, including her family.

The mash-up comes from her love interest, a genie named Cyrus, and the two antagonists battling for control of him, the Queen of Hearts, and Jafar (from Aladdin).

Alice is helped by the Knave of Hearts (the Queen’s former love), and the unreliable White Rabbit, voiced by John Lithgow.

I haven’t seen any cross-over action yet, and don’t anticipate it, given the disparate settings (Victorian England vs. modern day North America).

While I enjoy the quirkiness of the story and the visual oddities of Wonderland, I’m wondering where the plot will go. As of the last episode, the Knave, having helped Alice and Cyrus reunite, is now the new genie in the bottle.

It’s a bit of a ramble, but I’m willing to indulge the writers a while yet. Sometimes an interesting concept will trump a good plot (for a while).

Sleepy Hollow

Another reboot, this time of the Washington Irving story. It’s a favourite of mine, so on the strength of that alone, I’m willing to indulge the series for a while.

In this incarnation, Ichabod Crane is not a school teacher, but an Oxford professor who enlisted in the British Army against his father’s wishes. Fighting against the Americans in the War of Independence, Crane defects and ends up serving as an agent for General Washington himself.

In his final battle, he faces a soldier known only as “The Hessian” and decapitates his foe even as he is dealt a killing blow. The two die and their blood mingles. Crane’s wife Katrina, a witch, casts a spell which will awaken Crane if ever the Hessian comes back from the dead.

In modern times, Crane wakes, and has to adjust to life in the 21st century while trying to defeat the Hessian, who, it is revealed, is Death of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

With him are Detective Abbie Mills, her sister Jenny, and Chief of Police Irving, played by Orlando Jones.

The writing for SH has been a lot tighter than for some of the other series and the plot is far more intricate.

Death, it is revealed, is Crane’s old friend, turned competitor for the woman they both love, Katrina.

In the last episode I saw, War is a man Crane and Mills thought of as a friend, but who is, in fact, Crane’s son and in a jaw-dropping final scene, Death rides off with Katrina, recently released from limbo.

Crane is devastated.

There’s a lot more to the story than what I’ve written here. Every character has a stake in the plot beyond the obvious (save the world). So far, I find it very well done.

Then again, I like intricate plots that engage my brain.

A note on reboots/mash-ups

Phil has lamented the state of television (and movies) for some time now, declaring that Hollywood doesn’t have an original thought in its collective head.

I tend to agree, but I also find that if I can set aside the obvious complaint (could they not have written an original story with these elements and have done equally well, or better?), I can enjoy the story and series.

He also dislikes the tendency of North American studios to copy British or French shows of better quality. The British version of Being Human is far superior to the North American, in my opinion. And both are shown, sometimes on the same network. Why show up one series as a shoddy copy of the other?

Bonus: Homeland

I’ve watched season one of Homeland on Netflix and am now catching up on season two courtesy of Bravo.

This is an original series, and I really like it. It’s clever, and gives its characters a lot to deal with.

Carrie Mathison is manic depressive, a disease she’s hidden from her employer and coworkers. She’s an intelligence analyst for the CIA and she is obsessed with the terrorist Abu Nasir. She discovers that Nasir has “turned” an American soldier, though she doesn’t know who.

When US marine Nick Brody is rescued after eight years as a prisoner of al-Qaeda, Carrie immediately suspects him.

It’s very well-written, and extremely well-acted. I love Clair Danes, Damian Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin.

The plot is so complex, with so many unexpected turns, I can’t even attempt to give you a summary that will do it justice, and the characters are so well-drawn that their actions are always logical in context.

I know that they’re already into the fourth season, but we don’t receive Showtime here, so I have to wait for Netflix, or put out for the DVDs.

So that’s what I’m watching these days.

Series discoveries

How about you? Have you seen a new series that gives you the frissons (shivers)? One that makes you sigh and give up hope for originality or quality programming? Have you learned anything from these series that you could apply to your writing?

It’s all good.