It's been seven whole months since the last post. What things have been found interesting since then? Read on to decode this mystery, and this mystery only, in another edition of Things I Found Interesting Recently.
My audience for Things I Found Interesting Recently has assuredly dropped to zero. I don't even read this low nutrient bilge mould of a blog after writing it, which goes some way to explaining the complete waffle you will be subject to in this bumper edition. That's right! My promise to you, the suffering reader, is that Part 3 (this is Part 3 right now) will contain somewhere between 1% and 100% more content.
Bear in mind when ruminating on those numbers that science has not yet decided upon what "content" actually is.
"Hate, love Hate, love Hate, love Hate, love"
Satisfying closure to topics brought up last time
Various things were being looked forward to back in February. Now that forward has occurred, it's time to look back on those things to see if they were enjoyed.
Muse album: Yes.
Wet Leg album: Yes.
Elden Ring: Absolutely.
I actually played so much Elden Ring that it probably contributed to the delay in publishing the follow-up to my Elden Ring excitement. The creators clearly spend their entire lives roaming around being geniuses because Elden Ring is just so far ahead of anything else. It's a new type of thinking which crushes all previous thinking. Games will be trying to copy this game for the next decade.
There's just something about the way FromSoftware titles fold and unfold and fold again that creates perpetual magic for the player. Combat: perfect. Environmental storytelling: perfect. The UI: groundbreakingly perfect. Even the in-game world map, a feature that should be predictable, somehow incorporates the magic.
Like the best rock climbers in the world, FromSoftware developers don't appear to see bad moves. They only see the right moves and have long since filtered out everything else. The thought of doing something suboptimal doesn't even enter the mind subconsciously as a possibility - that would be a waste of their time.
I liked the loud tracks on the new Muse album. Not so much the not loud tracks. Muse are good when they're loud. Kill Or Be Killed and We Are Fucking Fucked are particularly loud tracks.
Real life activities of interest
Skydiving for the first time
It turns out you can pay people to chuck you out of a plane, which is something I decided to do this summer. I tried to find a venue permitting an absurdly high jump altitude but got hit with a bunch of excuses and warnings about "oxygen requirements" and "not for commercial use". In the end I settled for 4000 metres, which I later learned - while looking down - is actually quite high.
The instructor put the group at ease by suggesting there was a 50% discount if we didn't survive and free shipping of our carcasses to anywhere in the world. The first words out of his mouth were "there's a small problem with the plane". I liked the instructor. That's the patter of someone who knows the score.
When ascending in the tiniest plane anyone has ever created, I got plonked on the floor right next to a piece of thin plastic they called a door. For a long time they didn't close this plastic shutter, suggesting that I hold on tight to avoid tumbling out. This sort of banter is exactly why I chose to skydive in Eastern Europe and not the UK: all of the excellent "you will die at any second now" pranks would be replaced by a 2-hour health and safety lecture by Derrick from Clacton-on-Sea, and nobody's got time for that.
Falling at terminal velocity is quite a lark. It actually made me hungry for chicken, specifically the eight wings with rice and a drink deal back home. An easy explanation for this is that experiencing zero net acceleration replaces the feeling of falling with the sudden urge for chicken. The wind made my mouth quite dry, which created a thirst for the drink that comes with the chicken. Annoyingly, it's extraordinarily difficult to acquire chicken in the middle of a skydive, at least for now.
Skydiving is much safer than you'd think. Even if you jump out and fall asleep, an automatic activation device kicks in after detecting a low altimeter reading combined with a high descent rate, launching an emergency parachute for you. Cycling is far more dangerous. I don't trust wheels. They're talked up as one of the greatest inventions, but I reckon we should maybe reinvent them.
A holiday with actual holiday-like activities
Usually my holidays consist of sticking around wherever I'm working for a few more days and looking at various objects that are different from the objects where I live. Mostly those looks are looks of confusion and the objects are foreign public transport cards. I don't really holiday effectively, so decided to augment a sandstone bouldering trip with some sun and sea.
Sun and sea are both terrifying. One of them irradiates you and the other one contains both salt and jellyfish. Despite knowing these facts, I decided to rent a cheap hostel next to the beach in Valencia during the middle of July. And then, instead of hiding in the shade, I sat on one of those blue-and-white-striped beach chairs, on the beach, in the sun, for about four days straight.
It seems that nothing happened. I was simply far too pale for the sun to bother getting through. The rays bounced right off, probably decking a seagull with increased magnification on the way back up. One jellyfish was spotted and successfully avoided.
Luckily, the beach was quickly replaced by the mountainous forests of Albarracín.
Some advised it was unwise to climb scorching hot sandstone routes in 38 degrees Celcius. These people were wrong.
Expansive mountainous forests in the middle of Spain contain very little capitalism and are host to plenty of lizards and butterflies.
Rocks, pictured left, were climbed. Sharp rock is very effective at removing skin so after a few days it's time for a rest to regrow fingertips.
Later on in the trip I learned that the sun actually did work quite effectively, especially with regard to turning half of my back bright red, matching the sandstone like some sort of deeply unproductive camouflage. The sun, pictured below in the top-left, shines through mockingly. Do not attempt to outsmart things that generate their energy from nuclear fusion.
I wasn't the only pasty moron that got scorched. Here are three more - plus one non-pasty moron who had already defeated the sun in battle during previous encounters this year and was more than ready. And before gymbros contact me to point out the obvious: you are correct, leg day does not exist for climbers, as evidenced by the army of toothpick calves on display.
Will giraffes evolve to have shorter necks?
A small thought overlapping with the sun and holidays. Nobody can agree upon why giraffes have such long necks. Their evolutionary purpose could be munching down high foliage, whacking other giraffes' necks to establish dominance, or actually the whole deal might be related to avoiding direct sunlight using some freaky neck-based angling to create a more agreeable body temperature distribution. There used to be "intermediate-necked giraffid" before those things got so stretched out.
I wonder if the giraffe will come back down over time. Or perhaps nature will say "this is a one way system buddy". It's like the opposite of the 100ml liquid rule at airports. With current technology we don't need that restriction any more, but if more liquids are allowed they'll have to stop selling those overpriced little toothpaste kits. It's not great for business. Perhaps it is also beneficial for nature to keep the giraffe where it is.
Infinite money button in Turkey
When I saw the headline "Two brothers swindle over $1 billion from a Turkish bank" I was ready for an elaborate heist yarn, having recently been reminded of this ridiculous incident from 1980 involving a bafflingly sophisticated bomb disguised as an IBM computer being wheeled into a casino. Lad casually stole 600kg of dynamite from a hydroelectric construction project in the mountains and dumped it all in his freezer.
"The freezer full of dynamite gave Big John a new sense of purpose" is a 10/10 published sentence. Spoiler: this joker had F-tier OpSec and got swiftly caught. Quantico apparently still uses a model of the bomb to train explosives experts. It's quite a long story, and reading is for dweebs as we know, so perhaps it'll be a movie one day.
But back to this banking situation. It was curious to read that the two brothers who swindled a jenga stack of cheddar didn't technically swindle at all, nor did they scheme, plot, heist, or even steal. They just stumbled upon an app feature known as the infinite money withdrawal button and then told it to give them one billion dollars.
Where did these monies appear from? A place off the map in synthetic moneyland where 1s and 0s sort of float around preparing to exist or not exist depending on what electrons at specific distributed locations in the universe feel like doing at any particular given moment.
In many ways the bank got extremely lucky, because their staggering incompetence was conveniently overshadowed by the colossal stupidity of the brothers. The story seems to have played out like this:
Brothers discover infinite money button
Brothers keep spamming "withdraw 99999" until they reach big bucks
Brothers transfer it amongst their family in a state of euphoria for two days
Police arrest them immediately
Police let them go because they didn't actually do any fraud
Bank saves face by freezing accounts and claiming they were hacked
Brothers presumably get nothing and are worse off than before
Really all of the headlines could have read "Turkish bank loses all of its customers after glaring security hole reduces global trust levels to zero" if the following moves were played:
Brothers discover infinite money button
Brothers test infinite money button with some acceptably low dollar value
Brothers, having the presence of mind to realise they're not in a Hollywood movie and have already interacted with the infinite money button from their real names and are therefore already pre-doxed, conclude that the safest option is to package up the details ready for public disclosure
Brothers contact bank saying "we're going public in X days (X being around 30-90), so fix the problem and maybe pay us"
Bank gets angry and makes cringey bank-like legal threats
Brothers respond "Lol no" and proceed with public disclosure, inserting the bank's angry response in the final release
Perfectly legitimate full disclosure occurs and public turns on the bank
Bank tries paying off brothers 5-6 digits to save face and regain control
Brothers do series of news interviews centered around how they're not even hackers and yet they could have taken $1 billion dollars from these clowns
Brothers quality of life permanently increased, and more useful discourse occurs around not trusting large corporations with our private information if they can't even make apps without infinite money buttons
Global security probably inadvertently increases due to other banks fixing their own problems from fear of this happening to them
There are likely a number of scenarios that are more elaborate - and dodgy - but this is the first one that came to mind after finishing the article.
Final thought. If sheer blind luck is often what affects the meaningful discoverability of certain accidental infinite money buttons in the wild, it's interesting to ponder on how many are currently in operation at differing levels of use (for good or bad), and if flavours of button exist that cover not money, but war or madness.
Things that were watched or rewatched and worth mentioning
If we have a similar taste in media you might brew some value after imbibing the following:
Everything Everywhere All At Once
This is a film about the universe, bagels, dualism, googly eyes, mathematics, acceptance, individuality, and Bilbo's "I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread" line taken to the most extreme version possible. This film wins 2022 for me so far, and if you've ever pondered Gödel's incompleteness theorems or pure consciousness / nondualism (especially related to Zen Buddhism) you'll find some ponderings occurring before and after.
In an attempt to deliver non-spoiler cryptic questions, I ask: is a delicious full bagel equinumerous with everything else in the universe or does it act on a higher level while simultaneously existing in the subsystem it virtualised? As in, was Russell's paradox yeeted out of the window or not? Can a bagel self-reference an identical bagel, directly or indirectly? What would that self even be? Where does this uncountable infinity lie when trying to divide the continuum? Or is this conveniently isomorphic waffle that is all contained - or even rejected - by a greater transcended state that doesn't give tuppence for our primitive axiomated formal systems.
If so, what is the difference between that dissolution of self into the rest of the universe and the dissolution of self into the bagel? Are we in Indra's net territory and certain doom exists for those tampering with it? Would a bagel even allow its own child processes to generate such a termination code that works against it, or was it (if it's even "it") bamboozled by love? If so, that's a warming thought. After all, the bagel can never be truly complete, even if procedurally it assimilates at a rate perfectly equal to "stuff" in the "universe" "occurring", as we then run into the endgame of Thomson's Lamp or the race between Achilles and the Tortoise.
Or, if we accept some Cantor diagonalization into bagel-thought, it's going to need external meta bagels to avoid becoming a self-destructing resource exhaustion genie that tries to grant a wish that can't be granted. An infinite hot potato qubit cannon cooking all sides and no main. I hope that pesky bagel is hoisted by its own petard, seeds and all. It doesn't have the chops to be what it claims. Finally, what is zero and non-zero (and physical zero and physical non-zero) in the realm of bagels, especially if we choose to throw non-bagel ideas like the Planck epoch in the sea for a second?
In my view, meditation triumphs over whatever trickery is unleashed by these matters, and no more will be evaluated today in the land of no spoilers. If you want to chat about these themes in the context of Everything Everywhere All At Once, drop me a contact form for some nerding out.
The Straight Story
Flush out all the multidimensional junk above and reset your appetite for the following: this film's about an elderly dude with two walking sticks who plans to travel 250 miles on a lawnmower to see his brother. That's pretty much it, and we're looking at one of the best movies ever made. Something like Interstellar generates an epic container for storage of meaning and pours that meaning around freely because its own complex world reduces the potential error rate by design, The Straight Story instead has pure concentrated meaning bursting from the simplest concepts during every single moment. And you can't go wrong with a score by Angelo Badalamenti.
"Too lazy to write more descriptions" list
I also enjoyed Nope, Uncut Gems, Anomalisa, and the Rings of Power series. I have felt either fatigued or disappointed by various television including Rick & Morty, Westworld, and The Expanse and am currently in uninspired territory for this format.
Unrelated half cooked chunks of thought in medium hot sauce, served on a chopping board instead of a plate
Preservation of steam and beans necessitates the following taster menu.
Videos and clips of amusement
"Neighbours REACTION to my Underground Tunnel" - Colin Furze has been building a remarkable tunnel under his house for some time. I've been following it closely, and to date this may be the greatest addition to the series. His neighbour loves the tunnel. Who wouldn't?
"TOO FAR LEFT, THEY SAID!" - Scottish comedian Limmy livestreams the golf game PGA Tour 2021 and ignores the advice of the chatroom. This is the future of content.
"The Most Dangerous Stretch of Water in the World" - Tom Scott takes a trip to Yorkshire and explores a river that looks like a horrible environmental trap designed by the creators of Elden Ring.
"Orson Welles Outtakes - Frozen Peas" - I regularly listen to this, it's one of the greatest audio recordings of all time. Orson Welles gets pissed off at some advertisement producers when in the booth recording voiceover for Findus food products.
"Localizing Aurora Borealis entirely in my Kitchen" - The logical conclusion of the classic Simpsons meme is clearly to manufacture an incredibly dangerous device (Jacob's ladder) and dance around it in your kitchen.
"Steve Irwin on consumerism and money" - 34 seconds everybody should be seeing.
"climbing with Alex Honnold **Insane experience**" - Alex Honnold takes someone else free soloing in Vegas. I guarantee you can't watch this without getting sweaty palms, it's madness.
"Orson Welles Drunk Outtakes for Paul Masson Wine Commercial" - Orson being shitfaced while advertising champagne might even rival his outbursts when advertising frozen peas. It's hard to believe this is even real, but it is. What a moment in history.
Bizarre seagull egg story
I stumbled across this article about how city folk will pay big bucks for seagull eggs, which are apparently considered a delicacy. At first I thought the thrust of the story was to disparage the situation - you know, rich folks chowing down on £10 eggs heisted from wild gull nests. Then out of nowhere, this line about licenses: "unfortunately for holidaymakers who've had their ice creams and chips stolen, herring gull eggs are immune". So apparently now we're meant to feel a sense of injustice at not being able to thieve the eggs of the specific fuckers that thieve our chips. In all my years of observing seagull-related discourse I've never seen such a rapid 180 degree turn. In the "read more" section we see the headline "cheeky seagull swoops to swipe student's ice-cream right out of her hand". I can no longer tell if we're supposed to support the seagull or if we've always been at war with the seagull. The media is a strange and concerning machine.
The air conditioning device
I was recently in a hotel room that had one of those wall-mounted aircon units above the bed. This beast was particularly loud, whirring away like you wouldn't believe. I tried to shut it down with the remote control but it kept resurrecting like some sort of Futurama-style robot uprising. In the end I got up onto the bed and began reaching into the gap where the fans were (it seemed like the most logical idea). As I got very close, I noticed a sticker that said "DO NOT INSERT HAND INTO FAN". It's not great when a generic warning sticker actually applies to you. In the end it shut down by itself, potentially because of a delayed reaction to the remote control or perhaps simply of its own accord. I slept well despite being outwitted yet again by a domestic appliance, perhaps due to performing the necessary mental gymnastics to convince myself that I had in fact won against the fan. After all, it was switched off, and I wasn't. The rest can fall through the cracks. That's history for you.
Songs enjoyed over the last while
That's all you get! Perhaps I will see you next time for more Things I Found Interesting Recently.