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February 25, 2012

Overnight Open Thread

Robert Farley over at Information Dissemination has started something new that I think is pretty cool. He's going to start discussing Seapower in Culture. Last Sunday, he posted his first article that discussed The Final Countdown. I'm not gonna lie. I loved The Final Countdown when it came out. The idea of a modern Carrier Strike Group going back in time and be in position to stop the attack on Pearl Harbor was an awesome idea. Plus, I loved the Tomcat sequence with the Japanese Zeros. However, I agree with Mr. Farley's critique of the movie. It never really developed the characters and they really didn't delve too deeply into sea power discussions.

Final Countdown is a fun movie for people who love naval aviation. The scene of the F-14s splashing the Zeros is itself worth the price of admission. As a film, it's lacking; the characters aren't strong enough to support the plot. From a seapower point of view, the film's assumptions are incomplete and poorly specified. The Navy devoted considerable resources to making this film look good; most of the extras were Nimitz crewmen. Exchanging three minutes of shipboard operations for three minutes of conversation about the actual role that Nimitz might play in a war would have been more than worthwhile from both dramatic and public relations points of view. And really, you generally hire Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen for a reason; it wouldn't have killed the director (Hollywood vet Don Taylor) to give them a few more minutes of conversation. A work about time travel is neither inherently absurd nor without potential lessons, and it would have been better if Taylor had allowed the premise some space to breathe.

I'm going to give the Axis Of Time book trilogy a read when I get time. It sounds pretty similar only this time, the Carrier Strike Group STAYS back in WWII.


Who knew? The Statistical Significance Of Beer.

According to a new paper by Stephen T. Ziliak, it was a brewer at the famed Guinness beer company, William Sealy Gosset, who first began to explore the concept of statistical significance:

Gosset (1876–1937) aka “Student” – he of Student’s t-table and test of statistical significance – rejected artificial rules about sample size, experimental design, and the level of significance, and took instead an economic approach to the logic of decisions made under uncertainty. In his job as Apprentice Brewer, Head Experimental Brewer, and finally Head Brewer of Guinness, Student produced small samples of experimental barley, malt, and hops, seeking guidance for industrial quality control and maximum expected profit at the large-scale brewery. In the process Student invented or inspired half of modern statistics.

Kitteh Video

Gatonovela. The Cat Soap Opera.

Grammar Study

I don't know about this. Men Get Creative With Grammar When They Want To Impress Fertile Women. I'd like to see this study done at a night club with booze present. I doubt you'll see any difference. In fact, I'm sure the pick-up lines will stay the same.

Men who find themselves in the company of fertile women are more likely to make creative attempts at sentence structure to signify their mating fitness, a study has found.

Researchers discovered that when young men talk with a woman who is in the fertile period of her menstrual cycle, they react to small changes in her facial skin tone, vocal pitch and scent. The changes activate their mating goals and cause them to shift the way they speak.

The Ethics Of Bio-Enhancing Soldiers

More Than Human? The Ethics Of Biologically Enhancing Soldiers. Now the sci-fi genre has been covering this for some time in movies such as Bladerunner and Soldier, games such as Space Marines: Warhammer 40,000 and many novels including the Cobra Trilogy by Timothy Zahn so this was an interesting read taken from a serious point of view (i.e. not a work of fiction).

The use of human enhancement technologies by the military is not new. Broadly construed, vaccinations could count as an enhancement of the human immune system, and this would place the first instance of military human enhancement (as opposed to mere tool-use) at our very first war, the American Revolutionary War in 1775-1783. George Washington, as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, ordered the vaccinations of American troops against smallpox, as the British Army was suspected of using the virus as a form of biological warfare. (Biowarfare existed for centuries prior, such as in catapulting corpses to spread the plague during the Middle Ages.) At the time, the Americans largely were not exposed to smallpox in childhood and therefore had not built up immunity to the disease, as the British had.

Since then, militaries worldwide have used caffeine and amphetamines to keep their troops awake and alert, an age-old problem in war. In fact, some pilots are required to take drugs-known as "go pills"-on long-distance missions, or else lose their jobs. And there's ongoing interest in using pharmaceuticals, such as modafinil (a cognitive enhancer), dietary supplements, as well as gene therapy to boost the performance of warfighters.


Ok. I'm not really getting this story but evidently there is a town in Italy that has the wives up in an uproar. Wives Ban Husbands From Visiting Italian Cafe Where Busty Barmaid Serves Up Drinks In Skimpy Outfits.(Warning: slightly NSFW) Unless things have changed since I lived there for a few years, there was always eyeball candy everywhere you went. I don't think this one little cafe is the only joint in town like this. Driving 60 miles for a bit of espresso might be a bit much though.

Climate Change

Well, well. This "scientific" article is full of climate change BS but it does present an excuse if you are ever caught cheatin' on your significant other. Climate Change Increases Mate-Swapping In Birds. Sorry, climate change made me do it!
h/t Genghis

Awesome Video

This video is absolutely awesome and inspiring. US Armed Forces video with a speech from President Ronald Reagan.

h/t Broadside Blog

Procedurals Squad

Gregg Easterbrook, who writes TMQ for ESPN's Page 2, had an interesting write up about 1/3 of the way into his post Super Bowl article talking about the formula for television crime shows or as they are now known, procedurals.

In practice, being a procedural means a formula. Here it is:

1. Brief depiction of a shocking crime, half-seen shadowy shots of a horribly butchered body. Ideally, the criminal is a serial killer and his victim is a young woman.

2. Good-looking, wisecracking cops or detectives report for duty. They arrive holding Starbucks-style coffee cups. The prop cups are obviously empty -- the actors wave them around. Everyone defers to the heroes, allowing viewers to fantasize about the power involved in a badge and a gun. In the 1970s and '80s, TV crime drama featured private detectives -- lone outsiders bucking the system. Today's procedurals offer law enforcement officers almost exclusively. Post 9/11, Americans seem to prefer fictions about power.

3. The cops are shocked to discover they have no leads. Next time you hear this phrase on a news report -- "police said they do not have a motive in the crime" -- bear in mind, of course the police don't have a motive. The police didn't do it.

His observations were pretty good and then he goes on to interject some reality into the discussion with real life facts.
1. On procedurals, murders happen left and right; in the real world, murder has declined so much that homicide no longer makes the top 15 causes of death. In 2011, an American was more likely to die in a hospital of pneumonitis than be murdered. But that's not compelling: there is no "Law & Order: Nursing Station." So television presents murder as far more common than it is.

Instance of serial killing, especially, is inflated. The FBI reports serial murder is "less than 1 percent of all murders." There were 14,748 homicides in the United States in 2010. This suggests fewer than 150 actual serial killings in the most recent year for which statistics are available. But hundreds of serial murders were depicted in TV procedurals and at the movies.

The military procedurals, "JAG" and its spinoffs "NCIS" and "NCIS Los Angeles," exaggerate instance of murders of military officers, plus traitors inside the military. Actual murders of naval officers, and actual traitors, are rare. In the reality depicted by these shows, both happen so often the characters race from crime scene to crime scene.

Generally, procedurals depict murders that involve the well-off, glamorous or powerful, though these too are rare. Shows like "Southland" or "The Wire," which depict routine crimes involving average people, are on cable, not network, because routine crimes are not entertaining. "The Chicago Code" lasted one season. It was well-written, realistic and magnificently filmed on location -- but a ratings bust because the subject was detectives tracking urban corruption, not vice among the powerful or beautiful.

I wonder how many people are influenced into believing that crime rates are higher due to the prevalence of certain crimes on procedurals?

Saturday Night Music Video

A little violin dubstep with Lindsey Stirling.

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