Recently I can't use my earbuds for more than a few minutes without them getting on my nerves.

The reason I think is probably because the sound waves traveling through my ears causing vibrations. Sound waves (unlike electromagnetic waves such as light) require a medium in order to travel. In this sense, they're closer to ocean waves than they are to visible light. Sound waves are basically displaced air particles similar to how ocean waves are displaced water particles. I can hear because the sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate which then causes the bones in my middle ear to move. The cochlea then converts this motion into electric impulses that your brain interprets as sound.

Depending on how high the volume is, the sound waves might be causing tiny vibrations in your ear canal (but not close enough to interfere with the vibrations in your eardrum). Thus, I feel ticklish.

Either that or they are just rubbing.


Over the last couple of years I have noticed that my TV quality has been going down hill.

The reason seems to be because a lot of TV channels are more and more heavily compressing their signals in order to run more channels. For example, here in Australia, 7 used to run at 10Mbit, then they switched to 7Mbit on their main and 3Mbit on a secondary channel, and now 4Mbit/3Mbit/3Mbit across three channels, all of which look a lot worse.

It makes them more money.

But what does that mean for us?

Are you trying to watch DVD on an HD television? If so, then you are used to having the image stretch to fill out more pixel on the screen than what the image actually has.

The TV accomplishes this by filling in the missing pixels with what it determines to be the right color.

HD has about 6 times has many pixels per image than SD. That means that for every one pixel in a frame in SD, the TV has to 'guess' what five other pixels look like. Some TVs do this better than others, and quality can range even in the same brand, but none will give you 'HD-quality' out of an SD show.


When I was growing up we got a GameCube. It had a lot of fun family oriented games. It also had a fair share of violent ones.

What I find interesting is that in all of this, love, human sexuality, was left completely out.

This is the case for all video games. And yet we feel violence is alright.

Games depict violence, normalize violence and contain violence as a central theme because of the very nature of games.

In most games, and video games are no exception, you have winners and you have losers; you have win conditions and you have fail-states. Imagining a game where victory is achievable through violent means is easy; you win, you live and progress, you lose, you die and go no further.

Now imagine what a game would look like if its core mechanic was sexual in nature. What is your win condition? Getting to have sex?

Getting married?

You can't gamify sexual content without doing one or all of the following:

  • alienating half of all possible users by making your win-state a relationship with a woman, thus losing the interest of all possible people attracted to men
  • alienating everyone that doesn't find the "win-state" of your game to be even desirable. ie. how do you make your game-girl universally appealing to everyone in your male audience
  • Objectifying women/men by making your win condition a relationship. A trophy.

These games exist, they are called dating sims and they are very niche products which many people find creepy or demeaning.

Imagine if mainstream gaming depicted sexuality and relationships to the degree it does violence, and how much more damaging that would be to people's ability to form meaningful real-world relationships.

Violence on the other hand is more universal, more immediately identifiable, and more easily translated into a game.

Not only that, but people understand that there is a time and place for violence, that society universally condemns the use of extreme violence to solve our problems, whereas sexuality and its expression is more nuanced.


This is a follow up to my post on Egypt.

The scientific method was a big jump forwards, but this post comes across as pandering to the STEMophilic, pro-Republic, anti-religious world view that many hold. Sure, the above post makes a compelling narrative, but I think it ignores the facts somewhat.

The short answer to your question is that invention accelerates invention. It's a positive feedback loop - inventions build on other inventions and make new technology easier. Think about what the computer has done for research, in just a few decades; it has triggered an exponential increase in the rate of technological advancement.

The Egyptians made many, many technological advances - the first decimal system, paper, ramps and levers, huge leaps forward in irrigation, astronomy, not to mention the techniques that allowed them to construct incredible monuments. If these don't count for you as sufficiently major advances, I'd like to hear why, but anyway...

Think about what this is actually saying. I'll take a look at his example:

  • If you think that the Fire God determines when a metal melts out of a rock and becomes useful, and you therefore spend your innovation energy on ever-more elaborate rituals to induce the Fire God to convert more rock to metal, you will fail. But the king and the priests will be happy with your efforts because they don't create any change - and the fact that you, smart guy in the tribe, are willing to work "within the system" reinforces the innate "truthiness" of the king & the priest's world views to the rest of society.

Why, in god's name, would a king not want his smiths making better weapons? Why would he attempt to actively discourage better weapons production? I see that the above poster justifies this as an attempt to enact societal control, but I think, for example the rival tribe across the valley is probably a far bigger danger/opportunity than that presented by a King's own people, even if armed with better weapons.

Secondly, 'kings' and 'priests' did not always co-ordinate to repress the poor commoners, who just wanted The Miracles of Science to help them make the world better. It is ridiculous to claim that religion and scientific advancement did not as often go hand in hand as they opposed each other; as just one example, the few intellectuals that existed in the European dark ages were primarily monks. As another, advances in astronomy, were often driven by religion, in an attempt to better predict lunar events and the like.

As a slight aside: the funniest thing about all this is that myths are essentially a basic form, or at least a cousin, of the scientific method. Humans are agents, we are things that act. We therefore assume that all other things which appear to act - wind, the sun, things growing, the passage of the seasons, are also agents, with life of their own. It may not be STEMtastic but it's better than nothing. It's a justificatory framework for observed phenomena.

With that said, Archimedes, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Al-Kindi, Galen and hundreds of others provide pretty substantial piece of evidence that technological and scientific progress is perfectly possible in societies with both kings and priests.

So why didn't the Egyptians or the Chinese or the Indians or the Mesopotamians or the Mesoamericans advance?

Yeah, tell me more about how it wasn't until the scientific method that writing, the compass, mathematics, sewerage systems, gunpowder, printing and a billion other things were invented. The Maya calculated the length of the year and the lunar month to within 6 significant figures of the modern value. Polynesian peoples had incredible navigational abilities based on the stars - in the 1970s, using only traditional (centuries old) navigation techniques, Ben Finney and his crew sailed a traditional double-hulled canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti. Just take a look at that on a map for a minute, and tell me that doesn't constitute technological advances.

I'd be interested to hear how the poster would address this response.

As for my argument:

There are a few key things really: firstly, and probably most importantly, there's productivity. It takes a lot of work to farm enough to support you and your family, especially with droughts and bad harvests and the like. It takes substantially more work to support people who can do nothing but sit around all day doing research and not contributing food, or clothes, or tools, or whatever. As productivity gradually increases, thanks to things like irrigation (thanks, Egyptians), crop rotation and in more recent times, artificial fertiliser, the proportion of people in society who have to spend all their time dedicated just to feeding everyone else has massively dropped.

Second, there's transmission. Without writing, books, widespread literacy, universities, etc, there isn't a lot you can do to transmit knowledge. It takes the work of dozens of peasants just to support a single scribe in Egyptian times. This links to the above point. How many thousands of people does it take to support a university, even in medieval times? Clue: lots.

Thirdly, there are great enabling discoveries and inventions. The printing press, the scientific method and computing were massive boons to technological progress and allowed knowledge to be gathered and disseminated far more easily.

The answer why the Egyptians made markedly less progress than the millennia that followed them is because technology builds on technology, and makes it easier for those in the future to discover more.


I find the turn in Hollywood is taking to be fascinating. We no longer produce films for a US only market like we did a couple of decades ago. Instead the wider market has taken precedence.

What that means is that films are being shot elsewhere. And in many case they are being shown over seas first.

But why?

First, you need to understand the difference between the movie market and the television market. In the modern film industry, films are global events. The opening weekend is extremely representative of the total lifetime earnings a film will make. Therefore, all attention is on getting as many people as possible into the opening weekend.

Second, American consumers are more influenced by positive reviews overseas than the other way around.

Films with positive British reviews are more likely to have an impact on the American market. Conversely, American reviews and reviewers do not appear to influence British consumers.

Not saying that good American reviews have no impact at all, but if you have to pick, then releasing in a smaller (less cost) but impactful market first should net you higher returns and carry less risk than releasing in the biggest market first.

As to your comment about why you get TV shows so much later, it's because the TV market doesn't operate the same way. Yes networks are trying to assemble a large audience, but not globally. Foreign licensing of the show is often a bonus, not a core revenue driver: if the show doesn't make it in the US, then it is extremely unlikely it would continue production in the US even if it had substantial viewership in other countries, because the licensing would likely not make up the total cost of production.

I also read that there's pretty good tax benefits for filming in the UK, and many big films go there, including Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm. It's possible part of the negotiations are to release the film early.


I saw a report that the testosterone level in men has been dropping. It has dropped so much that it is measurable over the last 60 years.

There are several competing theories.

Most of them tend to focus on environmental factors, such as BPA.

BPA still common in many Plastics and there are other chemicals that are less publicized that have similar effects on the human body. Basically, it acts as synthetic estrogen in the human body and therefore has a smaller but similar effect as being on female hormone therapy. There is also the reality that most American women are taking birth control and standard water treatment plants do not have the ability to remove synthetic estrogen and progesteron and similar chemicals from the water supply, meaning that the Municipal Water Supply in many cities is effectively contaminated with synthetic female hormones.

One could also cite the effects of birth control on women's preference in sexual partners and the resulting change in evolutionary pressures as another factor which could be contributing to lower levels of testosterone and masculation in the American male population.

Most hormonal birth control basically functions by tricking the body into thinking it's pregnant.

This also affects the brain, which also basically thinks it's pregnant. As a result, women no longer look for strong masculine men to give them strong children.

Instead, their brain switches into a secondary mode, no longer looking for a good mate but instead looking for a good provider to care for the child. While men are basically programmed to reproduce with as many women as possible, the realities of human reproduction mean that women have basically evolved to look for two mates- one to offer the best genes for their offspring and one to provide for them. It's what explains a lot of human sexual behavior and a lot of human behavior and attitudes surrounding sex, like dating and such.

This means that most American women, being on birth control, I'm pretty much always in that secondary mode to some extent.

This has changed the evolutionary pressures in the selection process and affects future generations of males based on what traits and attributes women have been selecting the last few Generations.