Cordial Deconstruction

Observations from our shared single objective reality in a materialistic, naturalistic, & effectively macro-deterministic universe.

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Archive for the ‘Prop Convenience Theater’ Category

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 6 Season 5 Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 10, 2012

A Dreary Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis should eventually be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent


Apparently the method of entering the pocket universe was developed by the Ministry of Silly Walks

Pocket Physics Science

Either the pocket universe includes a fully functional and self sustaining & maintaining power grid or generator, or the physics of the pocket universe cause light bulbs to illuminate without power.

Also, although the universe was very Escher-like, at least it wasn’t intentionally designed to be a Castrovalva-type trap.

Prop Convenience Theater?

It seems like the Observers have functioning security cameras only in locations that are convenient to advancing or complicating the plot as the writers desire.  Most times, the Fringe team can wander around in broad daylight, at will, in populated areas without any concern for being spotted, but every once in  a while, they get unlucky and get spotted & identified by one of the apparently very rare functioning Observer security cameras.  Do the Observers have budget problems that are preventing them from fully deploying or maintaining their electronic observation net?

If We Were to Go By The Book…

Assuming the rate of time flow in the pocket universe is fairly constant relative to the passage of time in the corresponding local region of our universe, then if 5 days passing for Cecil in the pocketverse equated to 20 years passing in our universe, it follows that there is roughly a 1:1461 correlation in time flow, such that every hour spent in the pocketverse should translate to about 60 days passing in our universe.  For every minute spent in the pocketverse, about 1 day passes in our universe.

Astrid mentions working with Walter the previous night , and even though Walter’s bed has not been slept in, it’s clear he did not get to the building where the portal was before daylight, and it’s also pretty clear the team went looking for him that same day, also arriving in daylight.  Thus the team couldn’t have been much more than about 10 hours behind Walter, at most.  Doing the math tells us that Walter should have only experienced the passage of, at most, about 25 seconds in time in the pocketverse before Olivia and Peter arrived there.  Walter probably would still have been in the room when Olivia and Peter arrived.


Posted in Dreary Blue Episode, Fringe, Prop Convenience Theater, Science, Television, time | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 4 Season 5 The Bullet That Saved the World

Posted by Karl Withakay on October 26, 2012

A Dreary Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Suck It

Peter probably wouldn’t have been able to siphon off gas form that car. Many, if not most cars today are designed to prevent siphoning

What’s Old is New Again.

Apparently, once the Observers took over, automobile design and style stagnated since all the vehicles look what you see driving around today in 2012. Clothing fashion hasn’t changed much either. Considering how far off the predictions of future-current style was in movies 20+ years ago, maybe it’s not worth nitpicking about. (ex: Back to the Future)

More Notes About the Future

There’s no more baseball

Twenty dollar bills from the current day seem to be valuable collector’s items with worth a significant premium over face value.

Why Aren’t We Smart Again, Walter?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to extract all the video tapes from amber right away rather than extracting one, completing the task from the tape, extract another tape, complete its task, lather, rinse, repeat, etc? If they extracted all the tapes at once, they wouldn’t have to worry as much about the lab being discovered because they wouldn’t have to abandon all the still ambered tapes. It would also allow them the possibility of completing the tapes’ tasks in a more optimized order.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Walter says:

“There was a time when we solved Fringe cases. It’s time we created a few of our own.”

WTF? That’s nothing especially new. Weren’t nearly all of the Fringe cases at least indirectly caused by Walter?

Constant as the Northern Star

It wasn’t a particularly good idea to hide the plans in the vent in the subway station. What if the station had been demolished, renovated, or had the air ducts replaced?

Quote of the Show

“Don’t you understand? This is Greek to me, except that I read Greek. This is all Aramaic to me. Not the northern dialect- I do speak a little.”

How Many Early ‘70s Vista Cruisers Are There in 2036?

If the Fringe team had any sense, it wouldn’t have mattered that the Loyalist placed a tracker on their car because they would have ditched it after fleeing the firefight. Really, there can’t be many 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruisers driving around in 2036. Once it was seen fleeing the scene, continuing to drive that car would be equivalent to towing a billboard that said, “We’re the Resistance” in flashing neon letters.

Broyles, Continuing the Fringe Tradition of Excellence

Broyles didn’t want Etta to tell Olivia, Peter, and Walter about him in case they were read by Observers so he wouldn’t be outed as Resistance. Why isn’t that a concern anymore? None of then has yet learned how to effectively block the Observers, and Walter’s already been captured and read once. Any one of them could still be caught and read. Good move, Colonel Broyles.

Return of Prop Convenience Theater

That 4th generation, delayed fuse anti-matter baton with a 100m blast radius that can’t be deactivated once armed sure came in handy, didn’t it? It likely wouldn’t have much antimatter in it since just ½ milligram of antimatter reacting with ½ milligram of matter would have an explosive yield of 21.5 tons of TNT.

Big Brother, They Are Not

I am constantly baffled by the Observers techniques for observing. They occasionally have holographic footage of suspects at large, and yet whatever captures this holographic footage appears to not be particularly ubiquitous as they really see very little of what’s going on. You’d think they would have cameras, spy drones, and satellites all over the place recording everything that goes on, at least in populated areas. You’d also think they would be constantly monitoring all communications in real time, but apparently you’d be wrong.

Why No Female Observers?

No further comment at this time.

I wonder What’s Going On In the Alterverse

Were they also taken over by Observers?

Posted in Dreary Blue Episode, Fringe, Prop Convenience Theater, Quotes, Television | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 3 Season 4, Alone in the World

Posted by Karl Withakay on October 7, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Return of Prop convenience Theater

It sure was handy that the doctor was using a shiny, chrome clipboard so Walter could see Peter in it, wasn’t it?

Fringe Division, Crack Biosafety Unit

Two children die within hours of exposure to an unknown contaminant, probably an unknown pathogen for which no treatment protocol exists and for which the method of transmission is unknown, and nobody examining the scene is in hazmat gear and the bodies are not handled with any precautions whatsoever and just sent to a morgue and a basement lab at Harvard?  This is a textbook case for Biosfety level 4 biocontainment precautions, the highest level there is.  The investigators at the scene should have been in Level A hazmat gear with self contained breathing apparatus and the bodies should have been delivered to a BSL-4 lab with showers, a vacuum room, a UV light room, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of any biohazard as well as have multiple airlocks that are secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time.  Additionally all air and water service going to and coming from a the lab would undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.

Also, that’s probably not a good time for Nerlee’s likely first biosafety situation.

You don’t Need All the Evidence, Do You?

It’s not like there was any possibility than only one of the bodies would have some important piece of evidence like the method of first transmission of the pathogen or toxin.   Go ahead and save some time and money and only send one to the lab and send the other straight to the morgue.

Quote #1

-written in the kid’s notebook.

“I wonder if I wish my birthday would be just how I dream it”

Lambda Lambda Lambda

A lambda sensor is an actual oxygen sensor.

A Fungus Among Us

Cordyceps are very interesting fungi.  They are all endoparasitoids that prey mainly on insects and arthropods.  They invade and replace host tissue, and some species can even influence host behavior to spread it spores, as with zombie ants.  It’s always more interesting to me when there’s some real, scientific basis for the “science” in Fringe.

Brain Fart

But the part about the fungi forming large neuron like cells to produce a large, thinking brain was just over the top.

In addition to the fundamental absurdity of fungal cells being able to function as neurons, a human brain has about 100 billion neurons in it. If we do some back of the envelope calculations, let’s assume that “neuron” in the lab was typical and was about 4”X4” square (just to speed up and simplify calculations).   If there were just 1 billion of them in Gus’s brain, that would cover approximately 2500 acres of land/surface or about 4 square miles.

All Things Being Equal

This timeline and the old timeline should be identical up to the point that Walter and Peter fell through the ice and the observer did or didn’t save Peter.

Biosafety Level Zero

At least have some Draino ready to pour down the sink if you’re not going to use a BSL-4 lab.

Holy Crap, We’re Doomed (or Doosmed)

It’s unbelievable the amount of caution our Fringe team constantly didn’t take when working around the fungi.  If these people are half of all that stands between two universes and certain doom, the alterverse’s team will need to carry the full burden of saving everything by themselves.

Get A Head

Why bother wearing the fire protection suits when using flame throwers if you’re not going to wear anything on your head?

Ooh, Piece of Candy!

I love that Astrid knows Walter well enough to instantly know he wanted a Popsicle after he mentioned not turning the boy into one and then paused and said “Oh, Astrid…”

Other Options?

I guess it never occurred to Walter to try putting the kid in a medically induced coma or anesthetizing the relevant part of his brain before jumping straight the idea of lobotomizing him?  Presumably it didn’t need to be permanent; he just needed to interrupt the link until the organism was dead.  It’s a good thing he came up with a plan B in time.

Get Him a Red Uniform, Oh, Never Mind, Too Late

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who saw the death of they guy administering the toxin coming, right?

Quote #2


“I’ve seen the movie with the talking toys, oddly disturbing.”

Slow Down There, Let’s Not Jump to Any Conclusions


“And all this time I thought that I was loosing my mind, that he was a figment of my psychosis.  I’m perfectly sane.”

Maybe he isn’t a figment of your psychosis, but I wouldn’t make any hasty conclusions about the other two parts.

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Prop Convenience Theater, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 21, Season 2, Over There, Part 2

Posted by Karl Withakay on May 20, 2010

As usual, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

Kind of a Short Deconstruction Tonight

Maybe there wasn’t as much to Deconstruct again, but I know I’m burned out from work this week.

Quaternary Park

It’s nice to know that millions of years from now when some other life form rules the Earth, they will be able to extract DNA from humans encased in quarantine amber, clone them, and build a Quaternary Park.

The Name Walternate is Now Show Canon

It’s now the show’s official designation for the alternate universe Walter, thanks to Walter.

Quote of the Show

“The laws of physics were changed into mere suggestions”

Apparently Peter Prefers Brunettes As Well

“…but you hair’s different.  I think I like yours better.”

Do They Know Scott Watches the Show?

The comic books on the wall were a nice touch, especially the Red Lantern/ Red Arrow cross-over comic.

Motivation Explained

The motivation for the original espionage against the alternate universe was to obtain their advanced technology for our universe.

Prop Convenience Theater

Did the show explain why the device is keyed to Peter’s genome?  Did Walternate obtain it from some third-party source, and is the design therefore out of his control?

You Lost Me at Stars In The Sky

“I’ve traveled between universes so many times, my atoms are ready to split apart at the slightest provocation.  You taught me there are as many atoms in the human body as there are stars in the sky.  That’s how many atom bombs I am.  That should be enough power to get you home.”

There are an estimated 2X10^22 stars in the observable universe, which is an order of magnitude less than one mole of atoms.  Let’s take a 70kg human (154lb) for an example.  The human body is mostly water (Hydrogen and oxygen) and various carbon compounds.  Lets assume every atom in a human body is oxygen (the “heaviest” of those three elements) just to get a ball park number of the approximate number of atoms in the human body.  That would make a human body consist of roughly 4000 moles of atoms, or ~2.5X10^27 atoms, many orders of magnitude more than the number of stars in the sky.

Also, I suppose that traveling between universes could increase the internal energy in atomic nuclei, making them unstable, buy not so unstable that EACH atom was as powerful as an atomic bomb.  If that were the case, Bell’s body would contain more energy than 9X10^23 kg of antimatter annihilating with the same amount of matter (if we assume a very modest Hiroshima type atom bomb).  That is on the order of an antimatter Mars and a regular matter Mars mutually annihilating.

Was William Bell In On The Plan the Whole Time?

For that matter, is that really our William Bell, or was he lying about Willaimternate dying?  By the way, hands up anyone who didn’t figure out half way through the show which Olivia was coming back to our universe.  I hope there aren’t a lot of raised hands out there.

A Little Out of Character, Don’t You Think?

I would have expected Olivia to be a little more defiant and angry, rather than behave like a frightened little girl at the end

All Math is Approximate In This Post

The numbers are ballpark figures for illustrative purposes.  The results of all calculations were imprecisely rounded to give simplified, rough estimate figures.  If my figures are off, I’m blaming it on lingering  exhaustion form working 32 hours without sleep on Montuesday this week.

Any spelling, grammatical, or typo errors will also be attributed to the same cause.

Posted in Fringe, Prop Convenience Theater, Quotes, Science, Space, Television | 6 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 18, Season 2, The Man From the Other Side

Posted by Karl Withakay on April 22, 2010

As usual, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

Olivia Dunham, Now With Improved Investigative Skills.

Olivia manages to notice the joint has no lipstick stains even though the woman was wearing lipstick.  Has she been taking remedial investigator classes at night?

Rubber Gloves for Mercury?

I was wondering if it would be safe to handle mercury while wearing rubber gloves.  In spite of what some yahoos say, it seems that it may indeed be safe (or at least safer) to handle mercury while wearing rubber gloves according to numerous sources, here, here,  here, here, and here..

Leap of Logic #1

Quote form Peter regarding the interference signal form the TV broadcast:

“Shape shifters are soldiers.  Soldiers always come with orders.  Maybe that’s a message.”

Implying that the message would be the orders for the shape shifter(s).   That’s a bit of a leap of logic, don’t you think?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to give the soldiers their orders before they crossed over to the other universe, when you could just tell them in plain English, rather than wait until they’re in the other universe and then send the orders by a signal that might get distorted due to interference, a signal that could be picked up by someone on the other side?

Closed Captioning for the Math Impaired?

Massive Dynamics scientist discussing the signal from the transmission:


“It’s not a language, it’s math.”




“Trigonometric equations, in this case, a kind of wave, the kind given off by solar flares, which is interesting.”

First of all, I’d like to point out that the closed captioning said “trig and metric equations” which makes even less sense than the actual dialog spoken.

I only have the equivalent of a minor in mathematics, so maybe I’m off base here, but unless solar flares are sinusoidal, I don’t really see how you can say a trigonometric equation is the kind of wave given off by a solar flare.

Leap of Logic #2 (Yeah, That’s the Ticket!)

Again, the scientist at Massive Dynamics:

“Yeah, yeah, because in a parallel universe, time would be slightly out of sync.”

Upon what is the scientist basing this a priori assumption?  Regardless of whether it is the case or not, the scientist provides no underlying support for this wild assertion.  Unlike Olivia, he has no personal or experimental experience with parallel universes upon which to base this speculation.  It seems he’s just making it up to conform to and support the observed data.  Thanks for the circular logic, buddy.

Prop Convenience Theater

Don’t all scientists have a pair of metronomes just laying around in their work areas?

Double Spoken Quote of the Show

Spoken simultaneously by Walter and Astrid:

“There’s more than one way to roast a reindeer.”

The Writers on Fringe Must Just Like Car Batteries

What do they need the six car batteries for if they are hooked up to building power, and they lose power when they blow a breaker/fuse?

Bring Me an Autobot!

Walter told Peter he needed several things, one of which was a “voltage transformer”  Presumably he said  “voltage transformer” rather than just “transformer” so Peter didn’t bring him an Optimus Prime figure by mistake.

It’s Not the Volts, It’s the Amps

OK, the breaker/fuse blew at 140 amps, which is good deal of amperage.  Car batteries are made for short burst of cranking energy, not sustained operation like deep cycle trolling motor batteries, so again, I’m not sure what the car batteries bring to the table here.  If they were running just off of building power, and they had a 208V/30A outlet to work off of, they could get 140A if they stepped the voltage down to 44V, and Walter did mention a voltage transformer as one of his requirements, so this is doable.

Just for the Search Engines

Geometry and harmonic vibrations.

Leap of Logic #3 (Public Service Announcement for Law Enforcement Officers Everywhere)








Posted in Fringe, Prop Convenience Theater, Quotes, Science, Television | 7 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 9, Season 2, Snakehead

Posted by Karl Withakay on December 3, 2009

As usual, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

Astrid Should Be Smarter Than That

I’d be a little more careful handling a large, unknown creature like that. Two people trying to hold the creature in their arms while one person tries to extract fluid with a syringe seems like a really bad idea. How about at least holding it down on a table, or better yet, restraining it on the table?

HDTV Prop Convenience Theater

The sticker on the air purifier in the woman’s house read:



The sticker on the window read,




I’ll concede that it’s very plausible that the sticker would be on the window, but the air filter looks like it’s designed to blend in with the room and the sticker sticks out like a sore thumb. I call Prop Convenience Theater on the air purifier sticker.

No, That Means You Should See a Doctor Right Away

Conversation between Astrid and Walter.


“Walter, what if you’re infected with one of those worms?”


“I’ve tested my blood and liver function; I’m fine.

In fact, my white cell count is through the roof. I have several new antibodies in my blood, and even the gas I had earlier is gone.”

First of all, it would be possible for Walter to have one or more worms implanted in him and them not yet be detectable; it’s only been a few hours since he was attacked.

Second, if his white blood count is “through the roof”, especially so soon after the bite, my first though would be a severe infection, probably even sepsis, and that he should seek emergency treatment immediately.

Two Different Shows Feature Helminthic Therapy Within Weeks of Each Other!

The November 17th episode of House also featured treatment with parasitic worms.

Bad Medicine, Or This is Where I Try to Horn In On Scott’s Territory

Astrid explaining a picture on the computer screen:

Ancylostoma Duodenale. An intestinal hookworm. It’s about 10mm long”


“Chinese Medicine! Ancylostoma could be used for the treatment of chronic asthma. People are purposefully infected and walk around their entire lives with it.”

We’re good here so far. Helminthic therapy, treating someone by intentionally infecting them with parasitic worms, isn’t just “Chinese medicine”, it’s being investigated for use in scientific medicine.

But then the writers continue…


“I believe it’s the parasite’s lymph gland that’s the real prize. It secretes a remarkable immune boosting enzyme.”


“Immune boosting? So you might take that if you has, say a severe phobia of germs?”


“Or if you wanted to treat any number of immune deficiency disorders.”

Except that as far as I can tell, only vertebrates have lymphatic systems, (hook worms are invertebrates), and that’s not how or why Helminthic therapy works.

Helminthic therapy is used for autoimmune diseases like Celiac and disorders of inflammation and over activity of the immune system like allergies and asthma. It is not used for immune deficiency disorders; the last thing you want to do with an immune compromised patient is intentionally introduce a parasitic infection. Minor infections that would normally not cause significant problems for a healthy individual such as cryptosporidium can be severe, lifelong chronic infections for immune compromised individuals.

It is believed that Helminthic therapy works by basically giving the body’s immune system something to focus its attention on so it stops attacking the body. It does not boost the immune system; that’s the last thing you want to do with autoimmune disorders, where the immune system is over aggressive and attacking the body.

Please see this excellent article by Dr. Mark Crislip, MD, an infectious disease specialist, regarding the concept of “boosting the immune system” and whether the it has any real meaning or if it would be a good idea if it was possible.

Saw it Coming a Mile Away

Hands up all those who didn’t figure it was the son with the germ problem right away. No hands? I didn’t think so.

Jitterbug Anyone?

Why hasn’t Peter given Walter a cell phone with important numbers programmed instead of a 3X5 card? Walter would probably so infatuated with the fancy gadget that he’d never forget he had it like he did that stupid card.

Question Better Addresses by a Someone Who’s a Doctor, Like Scott

If Astrid was knocked unconscious, would she be able to recall what happened to her immediately upon regaining consciousness? I seem to remember from several episodes of Medical Detectives and Forensics Files that generally that would not be the case.

Astrid Must Have Been in the Same Class at the Academy As Olivia


“I don’t know how they knew we had the worm”

Gee, all you and Walter did was mention a four foot hook worm to a Chinese shop keeper selling hook works, and the next thing you know, Chinese gang members are back at your lab stealing your giant hook worm. Go figure.

Peter Does Have a Death Wish

WTF was Peter thinking, going in there by himself? What, exactly, was his cunning plan, to take on an entire Chinese gang by himself?

As My College Lit Teacher Used to Say, “FORESHADOWING, PEOPLE- FORESHADOWING!”

Anyone want to bet that the tracking device in Walter’s neck becomes very important in a later episode?

Posted in Fringe, Medicine / Health, Prop Convenience Theater, Science, Television | 1 Comment »

Minor Review of Fringe, Episode 7, Season 2, Of Human Action

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 12, 2009

As usual, an episode synopsis can be found over at Polite Dissent, assuming Scott had the intestinal fortitude to actually write one after this week’s steaming pile of fetid dingo’s kidneys

This week’s episode was bad.  It was so bad that I am anticipating Scott moving his Fringe Doomsday Clock ahead at least two minutes closer to midnight.

Call Randi; I want My Million Dollars

I take notes as I watch the show to make blogging about the episode easier.  This is an exact quote of one of the first notes I made while watching, “Prediction-  is the kid in control?”  I imagine most everyone else saw it coming from a million miles away also.

Bad Wiring?

I double checked with my day who, in addition to being an electronic engineer, was also a pretty handy home electrician, and that was the wrong slot of the outlet to stick a key in to electrocute yourself, unless the outlet was wired improperly.  Even if the clerk was grounded, that was the neutral connection that he stuck his key into, and not the hot connection and he was therefore not completing a circuit and thus could not be electrocuted, assuming the outlet was not wired backwards.

By the way, DO NOT TEST THIS OUT!!!  It was the wrong slot for the clerk to get electrocuted, but if you try it you’ll probably get electrocuted, die, and get nominated for a Darwin Award under the heading, “Some guy on the interwebz told me it was safe!”

Every house I’ve ever tested had at least one improperly wired outlet. DON’T BE STUPID

Is Randi There, I Still Want My Million Dollars

Later note from when Olivia is watching the video of the kid from the convenience store and says, “He looks so scared”, my note: “Not to me; he looks in control to me.”  Were there any viewers left yet that hadn’t figured it out yet?

Bad Science On the Brain 1 & 2 or Prop Convenience Theater?

While still on the hypnosis/ subliminal suggestion hypothesis, Walter says, “Given the extreme nature of the suggestions in the police woman’s case, I suspect there may be lesions on the brain, physical damage”  I call BS on this and suggest it is just an excuse to give Walter a reason to open the skull up and remove the brain.  No hypnotic suggestion outside of a comic book is going to cause lesions on the brain.

“Hematomas on the brain matter”, “the result of conflicting neural impulses; a conflict of mind and body”  I’m sure Scott will cover this one as well as the lesions, but I don’t think conflicting neural impulses can cause hematomas.  See BS comment above.  I won’t even start on the whole mind/brain thing the writers are implying.

It’s as Good a Guess as Anything Else Walter Might Pull Out of His Hindquarters

The whole auditory trance red herring was such blatant speculation on Walter’s part that Olivia should have approached it from a “There’s a good chance we’re wrong.” perspective instead of a “We can stake our lives on it.” angle like Olivia did, but were are talking about Olivia Dunham here, we’ve already established she’s not the brightest peg on the Lite-Brite.

Why the Womb Tunes?

Even assuming the auditory trance speculation was correct (which it turned out to not be anyway), why did they need the white noise rather than just using the hearing protection to isolate the agents from any outside noise at all, and why link back to the bear for the sound feed rather than hardwiring it into the electronic hearing protection the agents were wearing?

Somebody Call Adam Savage

Mythbusters has covered both parts of the exploding car myth presented here, both from gunshots and from crashes.  By the way, I’m pretty sure that when they show the exploded car on fire resting on its roof, you can see the flip jack used to flip the car over.

The Brain is Not Really a Computer as We Understand Computers

“The brain is a computer is a computer, doctor.  It’s an organic computer; it can be hijacked like any other.”  Sure, other than is doesn’t utilize binary logic or storage, doesn’t run off a discrete signal clock, lacks such discrete functional differentiation and lacks any input bus for direct programming or memory access, etc….so, not so much, no.  I’ll grant you that the brain is an organic thinking machine, but it’s not really what we would call a computer.

Maybe It’s True; It Nearly Crashed My Brain

“We’re going to crash his brain”  We call that a seizure, and they’re generally not good for you.

“This device will wipe his brain of all thoughts for a short amount of time.  He won’t be able to think.  He will become very disorientated; he may even vomit.”   So hopefully it only affects higher level functions so that his autonomic nervous system isn’t shut down as well, otherwise it could kill him.  I am surprised Walter didn’t say, “he might even pee himself.”.  It seems like a Walter kind of thing to say.

As Long as He Doesn’t Have Super Powers Now, What’s the Big Deal?

In answer to Walter’s question as to whether Tyler lost the mind control ability after the drugs wore off, Peter replied,

“You were right, which is a god thing, I guess.  It means he won’t do any time.  The kid goes on a killing spree and all they’re gonna do is make him talk it out with  a bunch of shrinks.”

Why, exactly does it mean he won’t do any time?  Unless one of the side effects or interactions of his medication was psychotic episodes, the kid is still a murderer, and may also be a psychopath.   The fact that he doesn’t have the power to do the same thing again is irrelevant.  That kid clearly needs to be warehoused somewhere for a long time.

It Could Have Been Worse, I Guess

At least they didn’t use the, “We only use 10% of our brains” myth the announcer did in the preview teaser for this episode.

Newspaper Headline Trivia

The headlines from the stories in the newspaper seen in this week’s episode were, “Local Resident Leads Protest Against Highway Expansion” by Tim White, Staff Writer and “Talks Stalled as Strike Looms”

Is That Light I See at the End of the Tunnel?

Next week’s episode looks more promising as I recognized Peter Woodward, son of The Equalizer, from the preview as the/one of the Observers.  He’s a damn fine actor; I just hope they give him something good to work with.  Scott’s Doomsday clock won’t have much time left on it after this week.

Posted in Fringe, Prop Convenience Theater, Science, Television | 2 Comments »

Minor Review of Fringe Episode 6, Season 2: Earthling

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 5, 2009

A plot synopsis can be found at Polite Dissent, as usual.

Ashes to Ashes

Interesting that the outside surface of the body retains all pigment and appearances, but internally the body is just ash.

Self Storage

Broyles keeping evidence in self storage implies one of the following: he doesn’t trust the FBI with some Fringe evidence, the FBI wasn’t going to keep the evidence, or the FBI is outsourcing their long term evidence storage needs to Dino’s storage.


Not only are the ash remains depleted of radioactive isotopes, but they apparently shield Geiger counters from background radiation as well.

Prop Convenience Theater #1

It was nice to see the computer screen during the FBI’s search of the hospital’s servers display a series of progress bars rather than the usual flashing or scrolling series of data you normally see for such searches on TV & in the movies.  (Computers generally don’t display every piece of data on screen during a search, as anyone who’s used the search for files/ folders function in Windows knows)

Hello, Am I Deaf or Just Dumb?

Why do people on TV & in the movies always repeatedly say “Hello…Hello!” when the voice of person talking on the other end is replaced with a dial tone?  Are they expecting the dial tone to reply?

Prop Convenience Theater #2

Just in case you couldn’t figure out that it was a lead acid battery the man was retrieving from his van, the prop master was kind enough put a giant label on the face of that battery that said “LEAD ACID BATTERY” in huge letters that were visible from the International Space Station in low Earth orbit.  I always buy LEAD ACID BATTERY brand batteries for my cars and boats, and so apparently did the man in the show because every single one of the numerous batteries he had was an identical LEAD ACID BATTERY brand battery.

Bad Radiation Science #1

Radioactivity is more of a phenomenon that it is a “thing”.  Nuclear radioactivity is the result of the decay of radioactive isotopes.  You can’t drain the radiation from something or collect it.  You would have to remove/ collect all radioactive materials from it to do so.

Bad Radiation Science #2

If a life form somehow needed to feed off of ionizing radiation, it could find far better sources to feed off of than human bodies.  Depending on what form of radiation it needed, (Alpha, Beta, Gamma/ X-Ray, or neutron, etc), there’s plenty of better sources likely located right in the hospitals themselves.  Heck, your average home basement is probably a better source of radioactivity than the human body.

Bad Radiation Science #3

Direct ionizing radiation (ionizing radiation other than neutron radiation) does not induce radioactivity or cause things to become radioactive*.  Things become radioactive when they are contaminated with radioactive materials.  Getting an X-ray does not make you radioactive or increase your radioactivity and would not make you more attractive to a radiation eating monster.

*  Extremely high energy particles, the kind produced in supernovas and particle accelerators, can be absorbed by an atom’s nucleus and render it unstable or break it apart into unstable daughter particles, but these particles are far more energetic than anything you normally find on Earth.

Couldn’t they have just traced the call when he checked his voice mail?

I mean, they suspected he was going to check it; why not just trace that call, especially considering he wouldn’t know they were trying to trace him.

Just For Fashion Fun

Why did Walter need to wear a bullet proof vest when Peter didn’t and they were right next to each other?  I’ll just chalk that up to Walter’s eccentricity and assume he just wanted to wear a vest for fun.

From Russia With Love?

Why did the casket/box they hauled the body away in have Russian writing on it?    Does the FBI, the NRC or the NEST contract out production of radiation caskets to Russia as some part of a non-proliferation agreement?  The Russians weren’t collecting the body, so the box shouldn’t have had Russian Writing; we have our own radiation caskets in the good old U.S.A.

Separated at Birth?

I wonder if that creature was related to the Smoke Monster from Lost.

Chemical Trivia

The chemical Walter mentions early in the show when attempting to analyze the formula is Titanium Tetrachloride.

Posted in Fringe, Prop Convenience Theater, Science, Television | 3 Comments »

Prop (In)Convenience Theater Review: Flash Forward, “The Gift”

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 5, 2009

In Tonight’s Episode of Flash Forward, “The Gift”, three undercover FBI agents are attempting to gain entry to a meeting of the underground Blue Hand club.  In an entry room outside the main area, an elderly man meets them and puts a revolver on the table and asks them, “Who’s gonna play?”  To clarify what he’s asking, the man picks up the revolver, puts the barrel under his chin and pulls the trigger (no gunshot), puts the gun back on the table, and repeats his question, indicating one of the undercover FBI agents must do the same and play Russian roulette for them to gain entry.

Agent Al Gough immediately picks up the revolver, puts the barrel under his chin and pulls the trigger as well, also surviving, and puts the gun back on the table.  Agent Demetri Noh then says, “I get it, no bullets, good gag.” Believing the gun must not have been loaded.  The old man opens the cylinder and ejects a single round of ammunition with a semi-jacket hollow point bullet, hands it to agent Gough and says, “Your ticket in;  Welcome to the Blue Hand, gentlemen.” And walks out of the room.

Agent Gough was willing to play Russian Roulette without re-spinning the cylinder (meaning he had a 1 in 5 chance of pulling the trigger on a loaded chamber) because he was alive in his flash forward, and therefore knew he would not die in the present.

The problem is that the round clearly had a primer strike on it, meaning it was either a dud, or an intentionally inert round, though I assume we weren’t supposed to notice that.

To clarify for those less familiar with firearms, this means that the primer had already been struck by the firing pin.  Either the round was dud that should have gone off but didn’t because the primer was defective, or the round was intentionally loaded with an already detonated primer to make it inert.

If we give the prop master the benefit of the doubt and  assume the prop was supposed to have a primer strike, it would actually raise an interesting question as to whether that was a dud or a intentionally inert round.  If it was an intentionally inert round, then the Blue Hand club likely just wants to see if you’re willing to pull the trigger, but doesn’t want to actually kill you.  If the round was a dud, it would raise the possibility that the future is fixed and whatever you try to do to change it will always fail, no matter what, but something that happens at the end of the show pretty much nixes that idea.

Posted in Flash Forward, Prop Convenience Theater, Television | Leave a Comment »

Minor Comments on Fringe Episode 5, Season 2: Dream Logic

Posted by Karl Withakay on October 16, 2009

As always, a synopsis can be found over at Polite Dissent.

“Shock Induced Achromotricia”

Shock can not change hair color.  In fact, short of a color job, nothing changes the color of EXISTING hair.  Hair is not alive, and does not change color. (I suppose it could fade from exposure to strong sunlight.)  When you “go gray”, new hair growth is gray, not existing hair.  Once hair is produced, that part stays the same.

Massive Dynamic

Not a comment about this episode in particular, but this company’s name seems more appropriate for a company in a comic book rather than a prime time drama.

Remote Backup

The doctor told Olivia, “The patients’ files are backed up on a remote server; I’ll give you the password.”  Gee, how about the username and maybe even the address of the site or remote server to log into?  Those might be useful too.

MK Ultra

I’m not too surprised Walter was involved in MK Ultra.  Apparently Walter had no ethics whatsoever; the Canadian experiments were especially reprehensible.

Felony Assault

Drugging a person against their will constitutes felony assault, and assaulting a federal agent is a very serious federal crime, and this is not even considering the civil liability he faces should the agent decide to sue.

Low Quality Dream Sniffer

All the network sniffing tools I’ve ever used work in passive mode, such that they can eavesdrop on data traffic without anyone noticing rather than intercepting and redirecting the traffic away from the intended destination.  You’d think that would be the better way to design a dream sniffer as well.

Addiction does not lead to Dissociative Identity Disorder

Olivia seems to be confusing manic mood swings with DID, which is commonly referred to as multiple personality disorder.

Olivia Dunham: Handwriting Expert?

I’ll grant you that the g’s were very similar and fairly unique, but the F’s were about as generic looking as you can make an F.  I’d tell Olivia to stick to what she’s good at, but we haven’t figured out what that is yet because it isn’t being an FBI investigator.

Prop Convenience Theater

Other than our benefit so we know whose brain he is jacking into, is there any good reason why the doctor’s computer displays a full screen image of his victim?

Full Service Airways

That was an awfully small sea plane to need two pilots AND a stewardess.

Parallel Universe Hint and Space Trivia

The poster on the wall in Peter’s dream features an image of the Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) in space with the words, “Challenger Mission 11” and “June 28, 1984” on it.  There was no mission 11 for Challenger; it was destroyed 73 seconds after liftoff during mission 10, STS-51-L on January 28, 1986.  This is further evidence that this Peter Bishop is originally from the parallel universe and was kidnapped and brought to our universe by our Walter bishop after the death of his son in this universe.  It is also interesting to note the difference in the time lines between the two universes.  By my estimate, our  Challenger’s 11th mission should have been around mid 1986, about two years after the parallel universe’s Challenger mission 11.

TRIVIA: According to Wikipedia, Challenger’s next mission, mission 11, would have been the deployment of the Ulysses probe with the Centaur to study the polar regions of the Sun.  Ulysses is only one of 8 man made objects to travel as far as Jupiter or beyond.  The others are Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyagers 1 & 2, Galileo, Cassini-Huygens, and New Horizons.

Missed Deconstruction

I forgot to comment that the lack of DDOS attacks does not support the idea that the computer was not hacked, but Scott took care of that on his post.

About This Post:

You’ll have to forgive me if this post is not properly proof-read.  Somehow my WordPress session timed out while I was composing this, and I lost half my post when I clinked the publish button.  Only what was auto-saved as a draft before the session timed out survived.  I had to type a good portion over again, and I don’t feel like doing a quality proof read before going to bed for the night.  I still haven’t watched The Office, 30 Rock, or The Mentalist; one or more will have to probably have to wait since it’s 11:20PM now.  There’s too many shows on Thursday this season.  😦

Posted in Fringe, Prop Convenience Theater, Science, Television | 4 Comments »

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