Thursday, 11 April 2013

I Married The Monster From Outer Space

Yesterday's video:

Click to tweet: .  If you express your hate for Margaret Thatcher now that she's died, it means she's won.  Left wing ideology basically requires one to understand that individuals are of no significance politically.  The well-being and feelings that we have for people are important, but they have little to do with radical politics.  According to Marx, economic determinism holds sway - we are to disregard whether people are nasty or nice because their role in capitalism decides who they are.  As a result, a cult of personality, such as the one around Stalin, is entirely inappropriate for communism, or even for a Rawlsian theory of justice based view of society, because there are no "Great Men", only people through whom social forces act.  Therefore, if you engage in passionate hatred for Margaret Thatcher now that she's died, that's entirely appropriate for a right wing perspective where there is no such thing as society, only individuals and their families.  So in a way, indulging that emotion sort of means she's won.

was a Webcam Wednesday video, meaning i hadn't got time to do very much.  However, since That Woman is very much in my mind at the moment, i really had little option but to do this.  I also think it could get tired though, so i'm kind of flogging a dead horse here.  Even so, wherever i have gone politically, i still see individuals as irrelevant to politics.  People are in particular places at particular times and as a result they become the mouthpiece or the hands of the Zeitgeist.  Irgend jemand koennte dasselb sein.  Eigentlich kann ich das ganze Blog auf deutsch schreiben und es macht nichts, weil Keiner es liest.

Heute habe ich auch ein paar (eigentlich ein Paar) der Videos gemacht.  Das erste ist hier:

Click to tweet: . It might seem at first that we'd be completely in the dark about what aliens would be like because they're, well, alien - completely unrelated to any life from this planet, in all probability.  However, i think this is not so, although it may be necessary to restrict what we mean by alien.  Firstly, i'm going to assume that aliens are organic life forms composed of cells.  I have reason to believe that although all life may not be like that, some will.  Experiments have shown that if a Miller-Urey style situation continues for long enough, cell-like globules begin to form which have a membrane separating the internal from the external environment, divide like living cells and even form chains like Streptococcus, Saccharomyces and Spirogyra.  However, my mind is certainly open to the idea that not even all organic life forms are necessarily cellular.

One of the clues to the appearance of alien life is the Mandelbrot set.  This is a fractal containing various life-like forms, including trees, leaves and shells.  There is, for example, an area called Seahorse Valley where vaguely seahorse- or shell-like forms can be found.  On Mars, near the south pole, there are also tree-like forms which look uncannily like living things, and in fact some people even claim that that's what they are.  Even if not, it still seems likely that there could, for a start, be tree-like organisms on other planets.  Similar forms, repeated throughout the animal, plant and other kingdoms, are often found, such as flowers, worms, segmentation and, famously, the bivalve-like brachiopods.  It doesn't seem to stretch credulity very far to suppose that similar life forms live elsewhere in the Universe.  Simple shapes seem another good bet, such as spheres, icosahedra, cylinders and perhaps dodecahedra.  Streamlining also dictates the shape of animals which fly or swim under their own power such as birds, fish and insects.

Another structure which is very common and has evolved independently more than once in the animal kingdom is the hard exoskeleton, as found in arthropods.  Within the arthropods, similar forms often turn up more than once, as with lobsters and scorpions, spiders, sea spiders, spider crabs and crane flies, woodlice, other isopods and trilobites (and chitons outside the arthropods) and centipedes along with millipedes and the non-arthropod onychophora.  If a form is particularly successful, as with the insects, it would seem to increase the likelihood that a similar animal might exist elsewhere since once it has evolved it will cling on to life particularly well.

However, one form which seems unlikely to me is the vertebrate, such as human beings.  They are unusual in being the only mobile animals with hard endoskeletons, the other ones being sponges.  Hard endoskeletons usually have the function of anchoring an organism in place and preventing it from moving, so it seems an unlikely thing for an animal which does move to have.  Having said that, limb-like locomotory structures have appeared independently several times, as with arthropods, vertebrates and cephalopods.  A much clearer example of this is the similar eyes of the molluscs and vertebrates.

It's also possible that the plant-animal distinction may not exist or be reversed, so the mobile organisms are the ones which use light directly to make food and the ones growing out of the planet would be the animals.  This might happen on a planet which rotates slowly for instance.  Jellyfish or balloon-like organisms are other possible solutions to flight than what happens on Earth.

The truth is probably that the relatively simple organisms such as bivalves, sea anemones, roundworms and spherical organisms will probably turn up again and again throughout the Universe, but more complex forms of life such as vertebrates, cephalopods and insects will turn out to be one-offs or very rare in their specifics, although complex organisms of all kinds are probably very widespread.  However, convergent evolution may mean they could exist.

This is an attempt to follow up on the silicon-based life form video, though with hindsight something on the Drake Equation or Fermi Paradox would've been better. It was about time i tried another aliens video though, because the silicon one did quite well.

The other one was of course on the other channel (i.e. the pregnancy vlog channel, not the Other Channel):

The careful viewer will gather that they were made consecutively because in the upper video i have a rather thick waist, eight centimetres greater in girth than usual in fact.  Here's the dooblydo:

Click to tweet: . Two points to today's vlog really. The first is that although some people have suggested i'm not pregnant, others have suggested i'm not a man. The second is to let you all hear the baby's heartbeat.

Firstly, i am definitely male and always have been. My hips are narrow, i have the male digit ratio - ring fingers longer than forefingers - and i can't hyper-extend my arms. I also have an adam's apple. It's been suggested that i am a female-to-male transsexual who conceived a child before the operation, as this has in fact happened once before, so in a sense there has been a pregnant man before. However, this is not what's happened to me. Nothing can induce a pelvis to get narrower so far as i know, for example.

Other requests have been to show my morning sickness and the baby moving. I don't want to do the former because it's gross and there's nothing i feel less like doing when i've got my head in the toilet bowl than making a video of it. Also, think about the logistics of doing that. As far as the baby moving is concerned, yes, i would definitely like to do that. It will have to be a spur of the moment thing though. Babies tend to move before they're born when their parents (strange wording) are still, because the rocking motion of walking and the like tends to lull them to sleep. Unfortunately this also makes it a little difficult to film because it tends to happen at night, and also unfortunately it means that once the baby's born, it tends to wake up more at night than during the day.

Regarding ultrasound, of course most of human history occurred before it was invented, but on the other hand most pregnancies were not inside men's bodies, so i can see the argument for keeping a close eye. However, there is a risk from ultrasound due to cavitation, which is the creation of minute superheated bubbles inside the fetus cells, and since a female fetus contains the egg cells of the next generation i'd rather not take the risk, in case my baby's a girl. We took the same attitude towards our first two children. Medics do in fact warn against the excess use of home Doppler fetal heart monitors for similar reasons - the ultrasound can be risky if not used responsibly. Having said that, i did try to get a recording of the baby's heartbeat at the end of this video. Let me know what you think - was it audible or not? Of course, i could easily have faked this bit with a recording.

There is a bit of an audio sync problem at the end which i'm not happy with, but it might go unnoticed.  There's a third video in the offing for the Other Channel, with diagrams and everything, but it'll have to wait.

Tomorrow might bring something on monopolies of compassion, i'm not sure.