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What potion of the surface is in shadow?

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Here's a picture of a recent lunar eclipse...

Retro SciFi of the Week…

Battlefield Earth (2000)

Battlefield Earth is infamously regarded as one of the worst science fiction films ever made. Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s navel of the same name, the film took nearly 20 years to finally get financed and produced. The film uses a stilted, campy acting style and copious tilted camera angles similar to the style made famous by the 1960s TV series Batman. The stilted acting style was interpreted by most critics as simply bad acting.

(fair use image)

>"This is similar to the gravitational lensing of a black hole, but it's curved less. Think of it as a lens with a long focal length. In this case the focal length is billions of lightyears!"

That's not correct at all. I really screwed this up. It doesn't act like a glass lens at all (except that it bends light). It's much more complicated than that and it doesn't even have a focal point or a focal length. So...

nevermind. :blobembarrassed2:

(The first paragraph is correct though.)

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Here's another stupid and useless Linux command string using cat...

echo bark |cat|cat|cat|cat|cat > dog

Then when you type "cat dog", it says "bark".


CLI=commandline interface (the command prompt)

The cat command is the UNIX command that concatenates files. You type “cat <filename> <filename> etc...” and it puts them together one after the other into one, which is sent out to the standard output. The standard output is usually the terminal screen. It’s probably most often used by people to quickly dump the contents of a single file to the screen, “cat <filename>”.

If no file name is given, the default is to take input from standard input, which is usually the keyboard. So if you just type “cat”, it will take whatever you type on the keyboard and send it to the screen without processing it, which is kind of useless, except in this weird case. 😄

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Linux tip…

If you want to keep your cat from typing potentially dangerous stuff into your unattended keyboard, type the following at the CLI:


(it actually works!)

And the whole reason why I'm doing any of this is because here in US we almost loss our democracy because half of the Republican party were too ignorant to understand that they were being taken in by a con artist.

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... and I'm doing these Patsplaining toots about them because nobody ever responds to the toots, so I assume people just don't understand them. (Maybe you folks do understand but just don't give a shit. But I'll keep explaining them anyway in case some folks don't understand.)

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I do these toots to demonstrate how the phrasing of words can be literally true, but imply something that is not true. It’s important to understand how this works to help improve critical reasoning skills and to be able to spot statements that are misleading.

(I also sometimes just do them for fun 😄)

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This one is 100% true, sort of...

By saying, “No cameras were allowed in the State House...”, it implies that there was a specific prohibition of them, like “No cameras allowed”. But a literal interpretation of the phrase simply means that there was no explicit statement saying that they were allowed, which of course there wasn’t, so that statement is true. There was no such thing as a camera in 1776, so they wouldn’t even know what one was and therefore wouldn’t issue any statement about them at all.

The phrase, “ there are no pics or videos of the event”, is also true in that there are no photographs or videos of the event. However, the word “so” implies that the reason why there are no photos/videos is because of a prohibition on cameras, but the actual reason is just because cameras hadn’t been invented yet.

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The Webb Telescope has discovered water on a planet 1120 lightyears away!

WASP-96b is a gas giant exoplanet that revolves around a star that is about 1120 lightyears away in the Phoenix constellation. The planet was discovered in 2013 using transit photometry, but the precise measurements of the spectra used to verify water and clouds on the planet could only be done by Webb.

Because it’s a gas giant and it is orbiting its star very quickly (3.4 days per revolution) it probably can’t support life as we know it, but this demonstrates what Webb can do to help find habitable planets.

WASP=Wide Angle Search for Planets

(Public domain image)

Yeah, I pissed off everyone with that one...

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Various views on abortion…

“Genders that carry wombs have historically been oppressed and subject to indigenous reproductive genocide. No one can dictate to our collective feminality what to do with our bodies or any one else’s body until the fetus reaches the age of majority. (Also, it must be paid for by single-payer healthcare because black lives matter and LGBTQIAHS+ intersectionality woke reparations.)”

“No abortions, no exceptions because the Bible says so. It’s says so right there in Mark 17:3. (I know it’s true because my TV preacher told me it was true while he was taking up a collection to help pay for the church’s new anti-abortionist private jet.)”

“In a free-market capitalist economy, a person owns their own body (even if they are a woman). And an unwanted pregnancy is trespassing and theft of productivity, so the woman has a right to defend herself and the trespasser can be forcibly ejected at any time. (Even if it requires the use of an assault rifle to remove the fetus, tax free.)”

The gravitational lensing that appears in the Webb Telescope image released today is due to the collective gravity of the galaxy cluster SMACS 0723. It bends the light from objects behind it.

This is similar to the gravitational lensing of a black hole, but it's curved less. Think of it as a lens with a long focal length. In this case the focal length is billions of lightyears!

Spoilers: more on Virtuosity and The Matrix… 

(Virtuosity, The Matrix Series)

The main problem with Virtuosity was the writing. The characters weren’t really developed very well (other than Washington’s character which I think is due in large part to his acting ability), and the characters lacked motivation, among many other issues, including unrealistic dialog.

Performances of the lead actors were great. Denzel Washington was amazing, even this early in his acting career. (And we get to see him in dreadlocks!) Kelly Lynch and Russell Crowe each did a fantastic job with the material they were given. Some of the supporting actors also gave great performances. (Kaley Cuoco from “The Big Bang Theory” TV series appears as a kid actor in this film, her second film). Crowe played the stilted super-villain and just went so far over the top with his portrayal, which I’m sure is how he was directed to play it. I don’t particularly like the stilted super-villain character, but it has become a pervasive staple in many film genre, including many scifi films.

Although The Matrix was much better produced, Virtuosity had amazing CG for the time it was made, and the overall production design of the virtual world was top notch. Some of the technical details of the narrative were kind of goofy, like the computer having separate plug-in cartridges for each virtual character and that exploding implant – those were unrealistic.

But The Matrix also had those issues, such as using humans for energy. Human batteries? Really? They couldn’t think up a better excuse to explain why people were kept as comatose matrix dreamers?

I think The Matrix performed better at the box-office because of the attention to detail in the writing, especially the dialog; and the overall quality of production, which the Wachowskis are famous for. It also had much more Hollywood-style action which makes it more appealing to a wider audience.

However, I think The Matrix was much more detrimental to society, because the protagonists were violent bad guys who killed a lot of cops under a contemporary punk-rock score. They also worn black trench coats (Trench Coat Mafia style), which is significant because the Columbine mass shooters were also caught up in that Trench Coat Mafia culture. I don’t think The Matrix made those kids go out and do all that killing, but the film came out just a few weeks before the mass shooting, and The Matrix glorified that whole evil side of the cyberpunk culture.

Virtuosity, on the other hand, while containing quite a bit of violence, didn’t promote the evil side of the protagonist. The bad guy (Crowe) is really bad, and the protagonist (Washington) has generally good intent and does mostly good deeds in the film.

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movie spoilers 


Virtuosity (1995) isn’t the best in this genre, but it’s certainly entertaining and innovative. It brought together several elements that came to dominate the subgenre of mind films. The Matrix Series borrowed many of these elements. They include:

- The film begins in the virtual world in a manner that leads the audience to believe that it is real life, then later reveals that it is actually a virtual world

- The use of generic, suit-wearing, identical virtual characters

- A stilted super-villain

- Real life characters who sit in special chairs in order connect to the virtual world

- Subjects in real life can experience real life injuries from events that occur in the virtual world

- The protagonist is a bad guy; in Virtuosity he’s a bad cop in real life but a good cop in the virtual world. In The Matrix, the protagonists are bad guys (Trench Coat Mafia) who kill cops in the virtual world, but in the real world they’re the good guys fighting off evil, repressive robot war lords.

- Virtuosity and The Matrix each prominently feature the use of automatic weapons in the virtual world

- The super-villain is able to become an actual human-like being in real life

- The protagonist is implanted with an exploding tracking device

I don’t think Virtuosity was the first to use any of these elements, but it was the first to bring them all together in a film from the mind subgenre.

Virtuosity really hasn’t gotten the praise it deserves and was completely overshadowed by The Martix Series, which was much better written and produced, and included much more action (and unfortunately more violence), and benefited from the improved CG technology that was available when it was produced four years later.

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This one is partially true…

It makes four claims:

1. Lincoln gave famous fireside chats (not true)
2. The chats were not heard in Illinois (true)
3. Lincoln’s home state is Illinois (not true)
4. The chats were not broadcast in Illinois. (true)

Lincoln did not give famous fireside chats (at least they weren’t famous if he ever did). The famous fireside chats were given by FDR in 1930s and broadcast on the new medium of radio, which many people listened to because they didn't have TV yet.

Radio had not yet been invented when Lincoln was alive, so nothing he said was ever broadcast at that time by radio because there was no radio, so of course they were not heard in Illinois because they didn’t exist and there was no radio.

Lincoln’s home state is Kentucky, not Illinois.

(The “s” in Illinois is silent, but many people still pronounce the “s” anyway, so now either pronunciation has become acceptable, however, some say the first pronunciation, (silent "s") is preferred.)

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This one is 100% true, literally. However, it uses the date "1931", which is way before the first person walked on the moon (1969), which makes it seem like people were walking on the moon earlier in the 20th century. Also, it says, "fewer than 1800 people" which is technically true, but much fewer than that have actually walked on the moon (only 12), so the statement makes it seem like many more people have walked on the moon than actually have.

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