Battlestar Galactica redux

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Thanks to Netflix (whenever the streaming would work) I’ve managed to cycle through the entire run of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, one of the finest television shows ever made.

During its original run, interrupted by long months in between seasons (or half seasons), parts of the threads of the story were lost to me. But this time, being able to watch them all in just a few weeks, the story held up much better than I remembered… Even the turn to mysticism in the final season seemed to make more sense in context.

I was hooked from the opening moments, but I love it even more after the second viewing. Truly a television masterwork, and some of the best writing I’ve ever seen put on any screen, large or small.

But Netflix viewers, beware: the versions they stream are apparently edited for syndication. You’ll notice the cuts especially during the recaps at the beginning of each episode (“Previously, on Battlestar Galactica…”) because you’ll see bits of dialogue that had been edited out.

The edits are most maddening in the finale – entire scenes have been excised, some of them quite vital to the story. Because of that, buying the entire show on disc (with the unedited & unrated version of the finale) has now been put on my to-do list.

Can somebody loan me 250 bucks?

Netflix streaming problem solved

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know that for the past few months I’ve been griping about Netflix – specifically their streaming service.

I love the idea of having movies and entire runs of my favorite TV shows available at my fingertips. And using my Sony Blu-ray player to stream high definition Netflix to my TV looked beautiful. Except for one problem – the streaming sucked. There were constant stoppages for rebuffering, sometimes so bad that I could only watch 10 seconds or so before the stream would freeze. Awfully hard to watch something that way.

Finally a call to Netflix brought the answer that it might be my Internet provider’s fault. So I decided to run a test and netflix-logostream something to my PC that was giving me fits over my Sony. And lo and behold streaming a hi-def movie or TV show to the PC went perfectly, not one stop, whereas it was impossible over the Sony.

That meant the problem wasn’t with my Internet service or Netflix. And after some Googling, I discovered that lots of other people have been complaining about the same problem with their Sony Blu-ray players.

Apparently there’s something in the Sony firmware that doesn’t like Netflix streaming. But Sony refuses to acknowledge there’s a problem, so I don’t expect a firmware update to address the issue.

The solution to my streaming problem? Get rid of the Sony and get an LG Blu-ray player for Netflix streaming.

The tinnitus/depression link

Some new findings are suggesting that tinnitus and depression are linked in the brain’s limbic system.

The thinking used to be that depression was a natural reaction to the sudden onslaught of continual noise in the head and ears that robs people of sleep, concentration and the enjoyment of life. But these new findings seem to show that the link between tinnitus and depression go much deeper.

Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) have theorized that the human limbic system can make some people more vulnerable to tinnitus than others and perhaps cause depression.

The researchers’ theory is that the limbic system—a linked network of brain structures involved in emotion, behavior, and long-term memory—acts as a gatekeeper to keep the tinnitus signal from reaching the auditory cortex, the part of the brain that mediates our conscious perception of sounds. In people with tinnitus, they suggest, the gate has “broken.”

In previous studies, Josef Rauschecker, PhD, DSc, and his colleagues in the Department of Neuroscience, the Division of Audiology, and the Department of Otolaryngology at Georgetown University had noted a significant loss of volume in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), an area located in the frontal lobe of the brain, of people with tinnitus. The finding was intriguing because although this isn’t an area of the brain that processes sound, it is an area that has the potential to modulate sensory information—such as sound—because of its intimate connections with key structures in the limbic system.

The fact that tissue loss in this particular area was a prominent feature was puzzling, but changes had been noted before in other structures associated with the limbic system in people with tinnitus. Previous researchers had tended to interpret the involvement of the limbic system as a reflection of the emotional reaction to the sound. The depression that often accompanies tinnitus (and that has deep roots in the limbic system) was seen as a normal reaction to an upsetting condition that wouldn’t go away.

However, Rauschecker’s team wondered if the damage they saw in the mPFC wasn’t a consequence of tinnitus, but instead a part of its cause.

Is your iPhone stalking you?

Is your iPhone secretly tracking everywhere you’ve been? These security experts say yes.

It turns out that your iPhone is keeping a record of everywhere you’ve been since June. This data is stored on your phone (or iPad) and computer, easily available to anyone who gets their hands on it. Why? Apple won’t say. We’re creeped out.

The enormous privacy startle, apparently enabled by this summer’s iOS 4 release, was discovered by two security researchers, one of whom claims he was an Apple employee for five years.

Nothing tells you the truth like the past.

“My best friend left me here in our small town years ago. But now he’s back. He seems older, kind of stretched, thin about the face. It’s like there’s a forest fire burning somewhere in his brain, and no one can get in to put it out. He looks like he’s about to have a thought that’ll make his head explode. But maybe I can convince him to stay this time. Because nothing here has changed, and that’s what he needs.”

"Proof" of UFO coverup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, the subject line has to have all those exclamation points, because it’s a CONSPIRACY THEORY, see?

There’s allegedly a secret FBI memo just uncovered that “proves” the FBI knew of crashed flying saucers and recovered alien bodies in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. An article at LiveScience delves into it:

The truth is very different, however. The memo is not secret, nor is it new, nor does it refer to anything that happened in Roswell.

This document has actually been discussed in UFO circles since the late 1990s, and a close reading reveals that agent Hottel is not endorsing or verifying any of the information presented in the memo; he’s merely reporting what an Air Force investigator said that someone else told him about the crashed saucers. It’s a third-hand report of a story.

Furthermore, the description in the memo, three “flying saucers…circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter,” does not match the 1947 Roswell crash at all. Roswell eyewitnesses described finding lightweight metallic debris scattered in a field—not three intact 50-foot saucers holding nine dead alien bodies.

In fact this memo does not refer to Roswell, but instead to a reported UFO crash in another small New Mexico town called Aztec in March 1948. David E. Thomas, a physicist and researcher with the group New Mexicans for Science and Reason, discovered that the informant mentioned in the memo was almost certainly a con man named Silas Newton, who fabricated a UFO crash hoax, complete with stories of circular flying saucers carrying 3-foot tall aliens. He tried to convince investors that he had access to crashed alien technology that would make them all rich. It turned out to be a scam, and Newton was arrested in 1952 and convicted of fraud. Newton didn’t just tell his story to the Air Force investigator that Hottel mentioned; he repeated it to many others including a writer for Variety magazine named Frank Scully.

It’s also suspicious that the “smoking gun” document is just an ordinary office memo. It’s not classified Top Secret, or even Secret; in fact it’s not classified at all. This supposed proof of crashed saucers is mentioned in an ordinary memo, with no more secrecy or concern than a request for more office staplers.

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