Wednesday, May 22, 2019

May 22 - Please the Fans Finale

The Elevator mystery is unsolved after almost 300 episodes, but the ding of its arrival is a completion for the Big Bang Theory. Once that door opened, the series was allowed to complete.  I had not realized that the most enduring question is Penny's surname.  It remains a mystery.  The show seemed to have a traditional set of resolutions, the highlight being Sheldon finding grace.  

I saw part of an episode of the Lucy Show a few weeks ago. The finale of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour mirrored their real-life circumstances - Wikipedia says it wasn't intentional. In the show Lucy and Ricky were about to divorce and end the show. Edie Adams was the guest star and chose the song to sing without knowing the plot - "That's All".  It is considered prophetic. While the show's finale divorce didn't happen, their real-life divorce was final and they only reconciled many years later.

Viewership of finales is very important. The BBT viewership 'grew' to 23.44 million viewers, up from the 18 million who watched it live.  This makes it the most watched non-sports series program of 2018-19.  But it falls far short of the most watched television series finales of all time:
  1. M*A*S*H // 1983. 105.9 million viewers
  2. Cheers // 1993. 80.4 million
  3. The Fugitive // 1967. 78 million
  4. Seinfeld // 1998. 76.3 million
  5. Friends // 2004. 52.5
  6. Magnum, P.I. // 1988. 50.7
  7. The Cosby Show // 1992. 44.4
  8. All in the Family // 1979. 40.2
  9. Family ties // 1989. 36.3 
  10. Home Improvement //1999. 35.5 million
Can you imagine these numbers?  The M*A*S*H episode drew 77% of those watching televisions at the time. Only the 2010's Super Bowl XLIV had 106 million viewers. The Cheers episode was watched by between 80.4 million and 93.5 million, with the rise of cable television.

We look at a Miltonia orchid today.  Also known as the Pansy Orchid.


Friday, May 17, 2019

May 17 - Dandelion Futures Up

We've heard a lot 'about trade with China'.  I realize I don't know anything other than the headlines. 

In the China news was the death of I M Pei, the designer of the glass pyramid at the Louvre.  He was 102 years old.  The BBC article shows his most famous work HERE.  He was immensely prolific, and known for many works in the US and around the world. While he was a resident of the U.S., China celebrated his legacy there.  Some of his work, like the glass pyramid at the Louvre, had negative reactions initially.  That was the case of the Bank of China Tower - it is now described as the world's best bank building.

Look at the field of gold in front of the expansive orchards of Cherry Lane on Victoria Street in Vineland.  It is one of the few streets that trucks can take to get over the escarpment.  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

May 16 - If you own a computer then play this game for 1 minute

Isn't that headline interesting?  Could you read the headline without being at a computer.   How does owning a computer change whether you should play "the game" or not? I wonder about how that logic motivates people to click the link.

What would we do to improve our logic skills?  There are serious websites such as and they have three categories:  logical reasoning and planning, spatial perception and logical thinking, and logical and mathematical thinking skills.  They are targeted to children to engage in the 'games' to improve their skills.  Another site - the one that is the top item on the google list identified ten creative tips, and then shows six.   This six seem hilariously illogical - and perhaps an excellent example of how google's focus on revenues have interfered with retrieval results:
  1. Dance Your Heart Out. ... 
  2. Work out Your Brain with Logic Puzzles or Games. ... 
  3. Get a Good Night's Sleep. ... 
  4. Work out to Some Tunes. ... 
  5. Keep an “Idea Journal” with You. ... 
  6. Participate in Yoga.
The list made me laugh, so I went on to find a logic joke:

Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of 'Being and Nothingness'.
He says to the waitress, "I'd like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream."
The waitress replies, "I'm sorry, monsieur, but we're out of cream. How about with no milk?"

The joke is followed by a list of Oxymorons.  It seems that seeing them together makes them more funny.
  1. Act naturally
  2. Almost exactly
  3. Alone together
  4. Business ethics
  5. Clearly misunderstood
  6. Computer security
  7. Diet ice cream
  8. Exact estimate
  9. Found missing
  10. Genuine imitation
  11. Good grief
  12. New classic
Two images of iconic Niagara - Peninsula Ridge Winery and orchard blossoms.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

May 14 - A big amygdala

Today we continue to look into the rancid yet riveting world of disgustologists.  What are they studying? They are studying part of our body - our brain's amygdala.  The bigger it is, the more likely a person is to be conservative.

The field has determined that there are 6 categories of disgust:
  • poor hygiene  (snotty tissues, body odour, a dirty apartment bathroom)
  • animals and pests (cockroaches, rats, infestations)
  • sexual behaviour (prostitution, promiscuity)
  • irregular or strange appearances (obesity, disfigured faces, amputated body parts, poverty, wheezy breathing)
  • lesions or visible signs of infection 
  • rotting or decaying food
They are described in detail in this Popular Science article HERE.  The article summarize it in a nutshell:  'that feeling when someone you find sexually revolting offers you a stinky pizza".

In the studies, one of the aspects that is observed is horripilation.  That word means the erection of hairs on the skin due to cold, fear, or excitement, "a horripilation of dread tingled down my spine"

Is it all physiology and genes or is there socialization involved?  Michael de Barra, the research psychologist who defined these six categories says this:  Genes might decide what kills us and what doesn’t, but it’s through our interactions with the environment and with other people that we learn how to calibrate and adjust to our surroundings. So while the six categories might broadly encompass most disgusting things, there will still be intense variability depending on who you’re talking to and what they’re background might be.

Here's a great quote to help us understand why this is so fascinating for scientists:  "Disgust is an organ – like an eye or an ear. It has a purpose, it's there for a reason," said self-described "disgustologist" Valerie Curtis"Just like a leg gets you from A to B, disgust tells you which things you are safe to pick up and which things you shouldn't touch.

And this book:  This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behaviour and Shape Society
by .  
Based on a wildly popular Atlantic  article, this is an astonishing investigation into the world of microbes, and the myriad ways they control how other creatures — including humans — act, feel, and think.  "Our obsession with cleanliness and our experience of disgust are both evolutionary tools for avoiding infection, but they evolved differently for different populations. Political, social, and religious differences among societies may be caused, in part, by the different parasites that prey on us."

So let's take an informal disgustology test?  What is the subject of this abstract picture?

It is a close-up of a person's beard.  Here he is.  What is your reaction?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Got my PHD in Disgustology

CBC Radio presents such fascinating stories.  On Saturday, they related research that show liberal and conservative thinking and emotions are fundamentally different and are wired in the brain. They can predict from people's physical sensitivity to disgust whether they are liberal or conservative.  The differences are so pronounced that there are standard traits on each side.  This area of research and study is now termed disgustology.

What the Scientific American article says: 

"According to the experts who study political leanings, liberals and conservatives do not just see things differently. They are different—in their personalities and even their unconscious reactions to the world around them. For example, in a study published in January, a team led by psychologist Michael Dodd and political scientist John Hibbing of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln found that when viewing a collage of photographs, conservatives' eyes unconsciously lingered 15 percent longer on repellent images, such as car wrecks and excrement—suggesting that conservatives are more attuned than liberals to assessing potential threats."

Conservatives are more fundamentally anxious than liberals. There is a high level of sensitivity for disgust among conservatives.  Studies show it extends into taste and smell, what people prefer to eat, how sensitive they are to bitter tastes, and more.

Researchers now have theories of how disgust is associated with views on transgender rights, immigration, and similar topics. "At a deep, symbolic level, some speculate, disgust may be bound up with ideas about “them” versus “us,” about whom we instinctively trust and don’t trust. In short, this research may help illuminate one factor—among many—that underlies why those on the left and the right can so vehemently disagree."

The tweet by right-wing Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro draws on the area of disgust.  He tweeted out a short clip of two 'perverts' gallivanting on a balcony at Rio's Carnival...He trolled the Left into defending an act that most people understandably find revolting (peeing on someone).

So here's our train picture of the day demonstrating the disgust factor with a well-known expression that originated in Scotland.