Steam Trek

Steam Trek – what a find! Some enterprising individuals have masterfully melded two classic SF genres, Star Trek and Steampunk. The result is a wonderful universe with Her Majesty’s Aether Ships exploring the solar system and protecting the United Kingdom of Planets. Long live Queen Victoria, and may her glorious reign continue as it has for the past 165 years! (preserved by Lunar Selenite technology captured from the evil Moon-dwellers). See the MetaFilter thread I started about it.

GM Spin

I posted a comment in this MetaFilter thread about GM crops, on how research in the area is often misrepresented by the anti-GM lobby. Case in point: it was claimed that the Bt toxin pesticide might actually benefit some pests, meaning that transgenic Bt plants could be utterly counterproductive. In reality, the research data has no grounds for such a conclusion.

A Passage To Boredom

Here’s a comment I posted in a Metafilter on bad books today:

Schools should never assign books for class reading. It’s a sweeping statement, but the agony treated upon students must be stopped. I remember reading ‘A Passage To India’ at school; it was the dullest thing I’d ever laid eyes upon. Maybe it’s a good book – I don’t know. But after having been forced to read it over a period of two months (as opposed to the usual two days in which I read books) and write essays on symbolism and significance of characters in the book, I was fully prepared to travel back in time and chop off EM Forster’s hands. Having to read books in school sucks all the fun out of it.

I find it absolutely absurd that we were supposed to read books according to a timetable. Like many other readers, it’s just not physically possible for me to read a book that slowly, so I ended up reading assigned books in a day or so. It’s not as if I disliked all the books we had to read; I quite enjoyed ‘The Crucible’. I didn’t, however, enjoy having to write essays on it and (essentially) being forced to fill the entire book’s margins with notes about the significance and imagery of particular sections for use in the exam.

Alive and well

Some utter fool has written an article in the Times (part one, part two) on the failure of psychology. My views are reflected quite accurately in this Metafilter thread which I contributed to.

Psychology is alive and well, and if you want to attack the strawman of psychoanalysis and outdated views of early 20th century psychology, fine. Just don’t pretend that you’re referring to psychology as it has been any time in the last few decades.

Saying ‘Everywhere you turn, you find growing links between biology, or physics, and behaviour; more and more appears to be explained by physiology, biochemistry, genetics or neurology � and less and less by psychology,’ completely misses the point. Psychology is ‘the scientific study of the behaviour of humans and animals.’ It can use any number of methods, such as brain imaging, genetic studies, molecular and cellular biology and of course good old behavioural studies.

A few good men

Cheeks to the rescue – ever been in a desperately embarrassing situation where you wished you could just crawl into a hole? Imagine being a 13 year old and fluffing the words to the American national anthem on live TV, and in front of 20,000 people. Fortunately, NBA team coach Mo Cheeks came to the rescue, helping her with the words and singing with her to the end. We can never have enough stories like this (via MetaFilter, also see the video).

Never good enough

The big news today is that Apple has launched its new music service. $.99 for a single track and $10 for an album. However, the folks at MetaFilter are positivery derisory of the entire scheme, even though it has almost no DRM issues (burn to CD effectively as many times as you want). What do they want? Free music, of course.

While I’ll admit that practically all of the music I have was downloaded for free, if I had an Apple, I’d definitely give this new service a try. I still have many songs that haven’t been ripped properly or are at a low bitrate, and I think that $.99 (60p!) is a reasonable enough price to pay for a track, especially when I don’t download that much anyway.

Apple’s new offering is pretty decent, and I think the prices will be reduced soon enough. It’s disappointing to see that many people aren’t willing to give it a chance.