Monthly Archives: October 2009

Asteroid Explodes Above Indonesia With Force of Three Hiroshima Bombs


by Irma Arkus

New Scientist is reporting on the asteroid that caused a “dramatic explosion” above Indonesia on Oct. 8th. Just how dramatic? About 50,000 tons of TNT worth of drama. The worst part is not so much that the asteroid in question had the power of three Hiroshima nuclear bombs, that could have devastated Indonesia and cost countless lives, but rather that the entry of the asteroid was undetected.

While this time, Indonesia has escaped a narrow destruction, due to the asteroid breaking apart in upper atmosphere, some 15 to 20 km above Earth’s surface, neither telescopes detected its entry or approach, nor any other instruments have detected its entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.

This is a cause for concern, say scientists, who point out that we’ve vested billions of dollars into developing expensive communications satellites that seem to spy on everyone these days. Maybe we could invest a few more dollars to ensure Earth’s safety. [New Scientist]

Food: Then And Now


by Irma Arkus

If geeks are known for anything that it is for the countless hours spent playing timesuck games (I can think of an entire year and a half eaten by WOW), and successfully gaining weight based on diet of takeout, snacks and pop.

But an interesting article popped up comparing portions some 30 years ago, versus contemporary portions, and if you are trying to take off those last few pounds and finding it difficult, then maybe, just maybe, it is the portions that are the cause.

Divine Caroline’s Liz Monte has the scoop with appropriate photos and information on average caloric value of these delectable foods. Dietitians have been raving about portions for years already, telling us to eat only half of a average meal served in a restaurant, and then even move onto consuming only a half of that.

An average slice of Pizza was smaller, narrower, and contained some 350 calories less. Bahh, I say – I can eat 2 regular slices and then curse myself for hours later. The pros I hang with can finish a whole Xtra Large Za in a mere sitting. But I digress.

350 hundred calories may not kill you, but will definitely contribute to that ponch you’ve been jealously holding onto. But then there are worst scenarios: one of my favorite lines in a cafe is “I would like a giant cup of coffee,” so it is shocking when looking at comparison between the giant cup of coffee found at Starbucks (I don’t spend my money at Starbucks btw), measuring at 16 ounces and boasting 330 calories (and that’s with 2% milk! I drink whole!!!) versus the traditional 8 ounce cup with only 45 calories.

That leaves me with an almost extra 300 calories per cup of coffee, and that may not be such a concern, if it weren’t for the fact that I consume a LOT of coffee.

Check it out and share your woes. Photos above are up to scale. [Divine Caroline

That aside, you could always have a bigger problem with calories.

Simpsons Hentai: Playboy Gone Cartoon Wild


by Irma Arkus

Not sure how much trouble the magazine industry is in, but Playboy is most definitely attempting to reach out to new audiences by going Hentai. November Playboy features Marge Simpson on its cover, and an in-depth interview will give us “insight” into sexy, Julie Kavner-voiced life of the Simpsons femininity.

Let us forgo the fact that Playboy’s sexuality is cartoonish enough, after all turning women into “bunnies” for source of amusement is pretty Hentai already, but the Playboy’s homage to one of the most beloved cartoon characters in the longest running animated series may carry multiplicity of meanings.

The issue has plenty of geek appeal. Touted are the likes of Stephen King, Benicio del Toro and Tracy Morgan meant to appeal to an entirely new subset of potential, future Playboy readers. In fact, the issue is shamelessly attempting at ingratiating itself to “readership” period, except that it does so by sexualizing one of the least sexy, maternal, meek and family-oriented characters embodying the lackluster houswives of low-income families.

The Devil in Mrs. Simpson is drawn by Matt Groenig successfully sexualizing the maternal goddess of the Simpsons family. It has serious connotations as to what a growing audience of The Simpsons fans, mostly kids that grew into men we know today, is perceiving as sexy.

It may somehow appeal to their inner Homers, or insinuate that yes, all Homers can find their own Marge, a faithful companion who not only bears the burdens of raising a family on shoe-string budget, but also happens to be a great, feisty gal in the sack.

On the other hand, it just may be that Playboy is finally getting into Hentai, looking for lusty thrills in cartoons.

Watch out for Playboy issue featuring Marge in November. The publication will make the Simpsons coverage available online.

Iain M. Banks’ “The Culture” Is Heading to the Silver Screen

by Irma Arkus

You know how we bemoan the wretchedness of Hollywood treatments of Isaac Asimov and Phillip K. Dick works for the silver screen? Well, now the fans of Iain M. Banks can join the horrified and disappointed masses, as “The Culture” is apparently being prepped for the big screen.

Iain M. Banks has a huge following in Europe, less so in US, yet his books are considered instant sci-fi classics, imbued with both provocative prose and interesting ideas.

“The Culture” saga begins with the “Consider Phlebas,” one of Banks’ first novels published in 1987.

The novel, considered a beginning of a beloved space opera, features Bora Horza Gobuchul who is in opposition of the very culture he represents. A changling, Horza plays with his personal appearance and gender, and ultimately has to engage in a war between Culture, a technology-dependent, hedonistic society criticised for being endlessly boring and atheistic; and Indirans, made of religious zealots set on expansion of their empire.

The Culture could probably feed some 10+ films, and it is primarily shaped by socio-political ideologies of Iain M. Banks himself, prone to supporting socialist ideals and his evident lack of theology. The Culture, initally despondent to war, ultimately stands up to Indiran invasive efforts, but from a moral standpoint.

Now, Banks’ “A Gift From The Culture” short story is treated to an adaptation by Dominic Murphy, and Shane Smith.[ScreenDaily]

HiSciFi – Steve Anderson on Net Neutrality, Fresh Media and Canadian Journalism


This week, we chat with Steve Anderson of SaveOurNetcoalition and he gives us the goods on Fresh Media Fresh Media, an event dedicated to new and changing state of digital art and media. We also discuss the recent CRTC decision on Net Neutrality in Canada.

Currently, media in Canada is experiencing a major crisis, as CanWest, one of the few and overwhelmingly penetrative media conglomerates has declared bancruptcy due to seemingly insurmountable debts.

Prior to kicking the bucket, so to speak, CanWest did its best to cut down on “corners” by closing local television stations, cutting newsrooms and engaging in mass layoffs. One of the requests forwarded to the CRTC was to eliminate costs by adjoining the newprint and broadcasting news rooms, working with only a fraction of journalists who would potentially occupy a small rooom in a basement somewhere in Toronto.

While the CanWest proposal never saw the light of day, it is worthwhile noting that similar redundancies have been committed by variety of news agencies across Canada. As a result, we are currently experiencing a disappearance of local news coverage.

However, there are select few, such as the chosen panel participants at Fresh Media, who see an opportunity. In this time of economic crisis, online-only publications such as the Tyee or Rabble, are gaining ground by producing the local content relevant to readers.

That said, these select few are neither freelancers nor new graduates with irrelevant, unnamed blogs. They are professionals who not only have full time, financially supportive jobs, but are working in the for-profit media.

According to Statistics Canada, independent enterpreneurs are doing really well, if they happen to be in the upper 10th percentile. The rest though, are having tougher times selling their wares, be it twitter or pen.
HiSciFi – Steve Anderson on Net Neutrality, Fresh Media and Canadian Journalism

Paying for TV on Internets

by Irma Arkus

Today’s big news (do we even have news any more?) is that Hulu announced cash for content in 2010.

This remarkably stupid idea of exchanging content that is virtually delivered for free through advertisements, as suddenly something that can be flogged for money, is an outcome of a failing industry attempting to not only bounce back, but make a lot of extra cash while doing it.

It is understandable that there is an exchange of money somewhere, but isn’t the Internet a better, savvier and more targeted delivery of content than any TV network available? Thus far, networks have been charging advertisers for making viewers available to see their product placements. But now, the TV productions are attempting to sell actual content rather than advertisements…and that, my friends, is INSANE.

The reason why radio and television became as popular as they did in the first place was because the content was free. That, and the fact that some of it was quite informative.

These days, Television as we know it is practically drowning in obscurity. While digitizing of traditional signals has created extra spaces on bandwidth, the entry to these spaces is still relatively pricey.

But it is only a matter of time until these signals become nest for more reality shows, dead end comedies and nostalgia reruns. I am personally awaiting the “bringing back the 1920s” channel. And I sincerely hope it is clustered between foot fetish channel and more pr0n.

BBC for example is planning to engage in independent content distribution over its already available players. However, currently the content from BBC is strictly reserved as based on country lines. It has however awakened to the fact that many people outside UK are following faithfully some of their more popular programs. Dunno if you have been paying attention, but the sudden influx of British actors as protagonists of most of top 5 network shows, is not an accident, but rather an outcome of global audience paying more than lip service to some unique UK productions.

The outrageous part though, is how much BBC intends to charge for their content. According to a Telegraph article: “executive say that global audiences would be prepared to pay $10 for an episode of hit programmes like Torchwood.”

Do ignore the spelling / grammar errors in this article, but pay attention to this remarkably eccentric statement – they are willing to charge us up to $10 per episode of something as low budget as Torchwood.

While Hulu and BBC are counting money that they haven’t made yet, one should wonder whether this particular model is applicable to current economic recession, when everyone is cutting down on all extras, especially the entertainment costs. However, I do not wish to discount this model either. Apple for example, is doing wonderfully with its iTunes, so people are obviously prepared to pay a minimal fee for watching an episode of a show. But then those numbers, yes, iTunes numbers, still fail to live up to downloads of torrented or online streamed episodes of these same shows. The discrepancy between the two is so large that many critics are demanding that they be taken into account when calculating ratings.

My point is, either you have ads, and we get it for free. Or you make us pay for it, and we own it, play it endlessly and watch it ad-free.

How do you like to watch your TV? [Telegraph

Hadron Collider: The Future Works Against It


by Irma Arkus

Large Hadron Collider, the multi-billion dollar machine that just won’t start up, has been plagued by numerous problems since the moment of announcement that “she’s ready to go captain.”

Last year, we’ve patiently awaited its start, and since then, the damn thing was breaking and facing numerous technical issues.

But a pair of physicists, Holger Bech Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan, say that this may not be an accident, but rather that the Higgs boson particle is so dangerous, that the time itself is rippling, trying to stop the collider from starting in a roundabout time-travelling sort of way.

In fact, they’ve written two papers on the subject: “Test of Effect From Future in Large Hadron Collider: a Proposal” and “Search for Future Influence From LHC,” available on arXiv.org.

According to the NYTimes musings: “It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck,” Dr. Nielsen said in an e-mail message. In an unpublished essay, Dr. Nielson said of the theory, “Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God.” It is their guess, he went on, “that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them.”

In other words, the physicists say that god, or rather some angry deity, is putting halt to the CERN collider because it hates the idea of Higgins Boson particle, thus engaging in time travel to halt it from being found.

As farfetched as this may sound, they say that this may explain why US abandoned its plans in 1993 for a similar collider after already investing billions of dollars.

My question though is, if something doesn’t want us to turn the damn thing on, why not stop the project at its inception? Why wait until its built?[NYTimes]

Baloon Boy Story: So Much More Under That Surface of Crazy


by Irma Arkus

Yesteday I was mesmerised by a headline, as was the rest of the world, describing a frantic father calling Fox News to help him retrieve his adventurous boy who flew off in a makeshift helium balloon.

The drama was accentuated by Fox Newscasters giving some rather violent advice in parenting, including the suggestion that the father should apply some physical violence in teaching his son a lesson.

But the drama continued, and the more it did, the more we wanted to find out just what kind of family this is, that has an attic, a helium balloon parked, and a father, Robert Heene, who is a supposed “Psyence Detective.”

Did you say “Psyence detective?

Not only did I learn about “psyence,” but I also learned about Heene’s personal belief development: he describes that his firm belief in aliens is a result of an incident at a fast food restaurant where he hit his head against the tile floor and lost consciousnes.

Precious. Watch the Heene’s below:


Balloon Boy on Wife Swap 1 of 5
by sdwfdura
UPDATE: Oct 17, 2009 10:17 pm

The assistant of Heene’s, Robert Thomas, has worked on the UFO-like baloon, apparently as a form of a promotion for their TV-show pitch.

He also describes Heene as a man experiencing paranoias and getting more desperate for money. Also, Thomas’ familiarity with the family places serious doubts that Falcon, the child in question, would have hid from his father to begin with.

The Gawker exclusive also has two audio interviews with Thomas worth listening to HERE.

Digital Is Better: Adobe Gives the Goods on Digital-Only CS4 Release

by Irma Arkus

On my bookshelf I have a few magazine holder, but I also happen to have a few boxes pretending to be magazine holders. Nice, shiny, quite large enough for paperwork, and they have Adobe logo all over their covers.

These, my friends, are remnants of previous purchases of software releases by Adobe. Complex packaging, retail distribution, manifold of CD’s in their hard jewel-cases…those are things of the past. The truth is, while the music industry is lamenting the death of CD sales (those were some good times, 20+ years of selling plastic for high dollar) companies such as Adobe have dropped it all for the joys of digital-only releases.

CMO Ann Lewnes explains that the switch from physical distribution of software releases to a sleeker, humbler, digital-only release, has its benefits. In her recent interview with Advertising Age, Lewnes says that the cutting of tedious traditional release saved some 3 million dollars, and also expanded the reach of CS4.

While Adobe is relying on product launches to an already steady buyer market. Lewnes is very much aware of that, but points to the actual Launch Party, a costly event that would have a limited reach, that when done online only, managed to attract millions of interested people.

The response to this is that the launch event when done digitally, attracts specific social node marketers, who influence in turn, other millions of people and their purchasing habits. But Adobe is a well-oiled machine existing in a rather narrow market, and CS4 is a line of products that one can say, has little or no competition, and the techo-babble-wizards that love Adobe will continue to endorse this product line regardless of whether they taste the foie-gras this year.

Adobe is moving forward, but it may be one of rare companies to be able to do so. Regardless, the article and the video short are interesting to view, and they do indicate a smart way of cutting down on unnecessary costs related to product packaging, offering, releases and launches. [AdAge]

Name Your Villain in Spiderman 4, 5 AND 6?


Not only is Sam Raimi working on another two additional Spiderman feature films, but recent announcement is that there is a 6th one in the planning stages.

But now, the question begs, who will be the villains in all these upcoming Spiderman films? According to a recent MTV poll, the fans demand The Lizard, and Carnage as the featured bloodthirsty evildoers.

My question is: who would you like to see bash a bit of Spidey?