Please don’t try this

There is dramatic video of a Florida man who encountered an alligator that had wandered onto his front yard and managed to force it into a trash can, close the lid, and later release it into the wild. A wildlife expert who watched the video said that this was a very bad idea that could have gone terribly wrong in any number of ways with tragic results. He said the best thing to do is get the hell out of there and into your house and call the authorities to take care of the problem.

There are so many news stories and videos of people in Florida encountering alligators that I am beginning to wonder if people who actually live in that state take it in their stride when they see one in their neighborhood, like us with turkeys here in Monterey, giving them a wide berth but not really shocked.

Death and the final exit in The Good Place (spoilers)

I recently re-watched the TV series The Good Life which I have praised highly in the past but did not discuss the way it ended because I did not want to spoil it for others. But since almost two years have passed since it ended, I feel that it is safe to do so.

Those who watched the entire series know that it begins with four people who have died being fooled into thinking that they have entered the ‘Good Place’, which is a euphemism for a heaven but without a deity, because they have lived exceptional lives on Earth. But in reality they are in the ‘Bad Place’ (a euphemism for hell) as part of an elaborate hoax by demons who are experimenting with a new form of torture in which they get people to torture each other by making each others’ lives miserable by squabbling over all manner of things. You know, just like people do on Earth. Most of the series involves the four, after they discover the hoax, trying to figure out how to get into the real Good Place and avoid eternal torment.
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Good news about those who sheltered Snowden in Hong Kong

Back in 2016, I blogged about a family of Sri Lankan asylum-seeking refugees in Hong Kong who in 2013 hid Edward Snowden in their tiny apartment when he was hiding from the media and the clutches of the vindictive Obama administration. This was after he left the hotel from where he had released his bombshell revelations about the massive spying efforts waged by the US and its allies against their own citizens. The family sheltered him for two weeks before he was able to get to get out of Hong Kong and into Russia where he now lives. The role of this family was only revealed in 2016 in the Oliver Stone film Snowden.
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A sign of the apocalypse

As if the pandemic had not already given us enough to worry about, we now have rats coming up through toilets via the waste pipes. This is apparently because, due to the pandemic, there is less rubbish around to provide them with food so they are going farther afield in search of it. This is apparently being reported all over the UK but they will surely come here too.

Forget the Four Horsemen. This is far more terrifying.

A pixel is not a tiny square

I had thought of a ‘pixel’ as the smallest unit of digital space, like a tiny square, and that digitial images are made of up such units. This article says it is not that simple and that it is related to Fourier transforms, in which any wave form can be decomposed into the sum of sinusoidal waves of different frequencies.

Perhaps the most unexpected person in this story – at least for readers in the United States – is Vladimir Kotelnikov, the man who turned Fourier’s idea into the pixel.

Early in his career, Kotelnikov showed how to represent a picture with what we now call pixels. His beautiful and astonishing sampling theorem, published in 1933, is the foundation of the modern picture world.

A pixel exists only at a point. It’s zero-dimensional (0D), with no extent. You can’t see a pixel.

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Death and the universe

John Horgan writes that he thinks physicists are drawn to the multiverse idea (which he dislikes) because they cannot bear to think that our universe will end at some point. He postulates an explanation for why multiverse theories are so popular among physicists despite the lack of any supporting evidence for them.

Here is my guess: physicists are freaked out by the mortality of our little universe. What was born must die, and according to the big bang theory, our cosmos was born 14 billion years ago, and it will die at some unspecified time in the far future. The multiverse, like God, is eternal. It had no beginning; it will have no end.

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Which animals kill the most humans?

Human beings are easily the biggest killers on the planet, killing not only other members of their own species but also of other species. The number of homicides alone is close to 500,000 per year. But what animal is the biggest killer of humans? It turns out that it is the mosquito, causing the deaths of about twice as many people as humans do. But the mosquito is not really the killer, it just serves as a vector for diseases. If one eliminates vector-carriers such a mosquitoes, flies, bugs, snails, and worms, the top four killers are in the order: snakes, dogs, crocodiles, and hippos.
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How the Soviet Union left Afghanistan

The way that the US forces left Afghanistan left the whole world aghast at its utterly chaotic nature. It has become a cliche to describe Afghanistan as the graveyard of empires, humbling the British, the Soviet Union, and the US. But not all such attempts by empires ended as pitifully as the way that the US did. The NPR radio program Morning Edition compared the US exit with that of the Soviet Union in 1989.

One feature that is similar is that by its end, the occupation was seen as a tragic blunder by the Soviet Union.

By the time the Soviet army withdrew, the war was seen by most Soviet citizens as a mistake. Fifteen thousand soldiers had been killed, thousands more wounded. And an estimated million Afghans had died in the fighting. After a decade of war, many Soviets couldn’t understand what the USSR was even doing there.

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Why not switch the two lights?

Jason Torchinsky writes that the left-turn signal on the back of the Mini has an arrow that points to the right while the right-turn signal points to the left.

The reason for this design choice is so that the two lights taken together is supposed to look like the British flag, the Union Jack.

If the idea was to playfully invoke the image of the Union Jack, it failed as far as I was concerned because I did not recognize the two lights as the flag until it was pointed out to me. A representative from the company said that he did not think other drivers would be confused as to the direction in which the car was planning to move. That may well be so but it does seem to be an unnecessary distraction. Switching the two designs would be simple and make a lot more sense.