Synchronize Your Dogmas #6

After a bit of a hiatus, the weekly link dump is back, with a collection of posts and articles that are all worth a look.

As yet another third world country struggles with its experiment in democracy, David Allen Green looks at the contest between violent populism and constitutionalism – and why it was not inevitable that yesterday’s attempted coup in the United States would fail.

Alex Woodie looks at The Benefits Of Endless Modernization. I was surprised to see that replacing a software application and starting from scratch had a 26 percent success rate — I expected it to be much lower.

Yvette d’Entremont explains Herd Immunity and why it isn’t a viable approach to beating an active pandemic with a large swath of at risk people.

“It might be no accident that our worst PMs disproportionately attended private school”. Chris Dillow on bad government.

And finally. If you’re a WhatsApp user, you’ll have to share your personal data with Facebook’s empire from next month – or stop using the chat app.

Synchronize Your Dogmas #5

David Allen Green argues that, in Britain, we need to stop talking about a written constitution. Personally, I think the last four years of Trumpism effectivly demonstrates just how useless a single written document really is when the governing party decides to ignore it.

“So many games, so little time”. Reid Conley considers how FOMO and the cult of the new changed board games.

“Who’d have thought Hawkwind would be the ones to produce the musical chronicle of the pandemic?” James R Turner reviews Carnivorous.

Petra vists Sigtuna, Sweden’s first town and hunts for runestones.

Kevin Lyons looks back at House.

And finally, here’s a short commercial for a Russian cyberfarm

Synchronize Your Dogmas #4

Atasha Korecki, Alex Isenstadt, Anita Kumar, Gabby Orr, Christopher Cadelago and Marc Caputo go inside Donald Trump’s 2020 undoing , discussing how Biden prevailed and Trump fell short with 75 insiders.

Businesses are not prepared for Brexit. Christopher Grey explains why the refusal of Brexiters to face reality — both during the referendum campaign and subsequently in government — has made any preparations impossible. On a related note, Tom Hayes considers Brexit and magical thinking.

“The diabolical ironclad beetle, in addition to having one of the coolest names in the animal kingdom, boasts one of the toughest natural exoskeletons.” George Dvorsky explains how this uncrushable beetle can survive being run over by a car.

Did you know that a Venus flytrap can count, sort of? Jennifer Ouellette reports on the secret of how the Venus flytrap “remembers” when it captures prey

Petra visits Örebro and stumbles into Scandinavia’s largest outdoor exhibition of contemporary art.

Back in Belgium, Denzil takes Herman Vandecauter on a 10 km circular walk taking in the Millennium Tower and La Fange de l’Abîme nature reserve.

Synchronize Your Dogmas #3

“[A] bold experiment that sadly didn’t click with the public and really deserved a lot better than it got.” Kevin Lyons looks back at Halloween III: Season of the Witch which, for my money, is the best of the Halloween films. This may be because it was the first one that I saw.

“With hunting being a keystone to survival for many highly mobile hunter-gatherer groups, community-wide participation also makes good evolutionary sense.” Annemieke Milks reviews new research that suggests prehistoric women were hunters.

“Social life… is a process of awkward encounters not just with other people but with a reality that is other than we’d like it to be.” Chris Dillow explores Farage’s dangerous appeal. While he’s talking about UK politics here, the general points are very widely applicable.

Petra vistis Postojna cave.

Synchronize Your Dogmas #2

It’s Halloween and things are weird and wild over at Den of Geek. From Mike Cecchini we have the wild history of Dog Soldiers, the most action packed werewolf movie ever made and Gene Ching gives us the weird history of A Chinese Ghost Story franchise: horror comedy at its wildest.

We all have cognitive biases, mental short-cuts that help us get through the day, but we need to be aware of them because they affect our reasoning and lead us to misinterpret information. Mark Manson summarises the cognitive biases that make us all terrible people.

Peter Kellner considers Brexit and the dismal reality of “Take Back Control” and concludes that the UK may have to spend some years learning hard lessons about the way today’s interconnected world works.

James Randi died recently. Chris French reflects on the passing of The Amazing Randi.

Kevin Lyons looks back at Dellamorte Dellamore.

And finally, Petra, the Erratic Engineeress blogs about a Neanderthal flute from Slovenia, which is the oldest known musical instrument. And this is what it sounds like:

Synchronize Your Dogmas #1

After 15 months and 48 posts, I’m revisiting the Five Things format because it’s starting to feel like a bit of a chore. The problem is that my rate of online reading can be quite variable and I sometimes find that, by the time I’ve readched the fifth interesting thing, the first one feels a tad stale. I still like posting lists of links but, instead of tying myself to a number, I’m going to do it weekly and allow the number of links to go up or down depending on how much time I had.

As ever, I make no commitments whatsoever, but here goes with the first edition of Synchronize Your Dogmas.

First up, Airplane a parody of 1970s disaster movies that remains funny today. The film recently turned 40 and darknite125 at Funk’s House of Geekery gives us a 40th Anniversary Retrospective of the Zucker-Abrams-Zucker classic.

“A decade of data shows that giving people cash instead of food or other in-kind aid empowers recipients, is harder to steal, and pumps money into local economies.” Jina Moore explains why the World Food Program is one of many agencies that has come to the conclusion that it’s better to just give poor people money.

“Fans of Japanese cinema will no doubt be familiar with the iconic Takeshi name. Sometimes billed by nickname as Beat Takeshi, or more retrospectively now as Takeshi Kitano, this actor and comedian… would make a quite triumphant turn to directing. Tom Jolliffe considers the defining works of Takeshi Kitano.

While I enjoyed Warcraft, the film, it’s true that it didn’t go down too well and the poor box office returns quikly killed off all talk of a sequel. Martin Shore writes a few words in defence of the Warcraft movie.

Kevin Lyons looks back at Escape from New York.

And finally, novelist Peter Watts notes that, after four years, some forty people scattered around the world have put together a short film inspired by his novel Blindsight. Go explore Blindsight.space, it’s stunning. (Side note: I had no problem watching it in Firefox on Linux).

Five Things #48

“A film equal parts horror and comedy and one that would fall flat if either side hadn’t been up to muster. In that sense it’s wholly unique and might be better off staying that way.” Jack Beresford looks back at how Arachnophobia became the perfect creepy crawly horror comedy.

Solid reasoning is difficult and logical fallacies abound to trip us up and send us down, often insane, rabbit holes. Mark Manson has a refreshingly direct list of 8 logical fallacies that mess us all up, and why they matter.

From its name, to its hazy origins, to its drug interactions, there’s a lot going on beneath that thick rind. Dan Nosowitz explains why grapefruit is one of the weirdest fruits on the planet.

Another Brexit deadline is missed and Johnson blusters some more. Chris Grey notes that, regardless of the outcome of the current negotiations, there will be more because Britain is in for the long haul.

Andrew Anthony goes walking in an autumn wonderland and finds awe in deepest Surrey.

Five Things #47

“Nearly six years before the first issue of the evergreen and still-wildly-popular Judge Dredd Megazine — a series celebrating its 30th anniversary this month — Dredd’s then-publisher IPC Magazines tried its hand at a Judge Dredd spin-off with the straight-forward name Judge Dredd Fortnightly”. Chloe Maveal looks back at The Megazine that never was.

Germain Lussier asks why isn’t Close Encounters considered Steven Spielberg’s ultimate masterpiece? Because it kind of is. It’s been far too long since I last watched this, which is something I really should rectify.

In 2018 a down-on-his-luck headbanger fabricated a persona, faked a tour, and promoted himself as a hard-rock saviour. David Kushner reports on The Great Heavy Metal Hoax.

With momentum finally starting to build towards an eventual coalition, Maïthé Chini explains the basics of Belgium’s government formation.

Denzil goes cycling around Hainaut Province and enjoys lunch at the brewery Abbaye des Rocs.