Cordial Deconstruction

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

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Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 12 Season 5 Liberty

Posted by Karl Withakay on January 21, 2013

A Dreary Blue Episode

There won’t be a plot synopsis of this episode over at Polite Dissent this week.

Underdogs or Top Cats?

The resistance has a comprehensive surveillance system that can track a convoy, and they even have satellites!

Prime Suspect

Broyles is known to have worked very closely with Peter, Olivia, Walter, and Nina in the past.  Shouldn’t he be at the top of the suspect list for the potential identity of “The Dove”?  Why would you even put any other names on the list until he was definitively ruled out?

Minor Trivia About Cortexiphan

Cortexiphan has a shelf life of 127 years, which is very long for a drug.  Maybe it’s like fine wine and it actually gets better with age.

The lot of Cortexiphan used by Walter was made on 3-06-11.

It’s too bad Scott’s not still watching; I’d love to heart what he says about the volume of fluid (cortexiphan) that was injected into Olivia’s brain stem.  I suspect that injecting that large a volume of fluid into the brain stem would be very problematic regardless of what kind of fluid it was.

Potential side Effects of cortexiphan withdrawal include hallucinations, disorientation, and lapses in time. (I am guessing “lapses in time” means actually jumping around through time rather than experiencing blackouts.

Cortexiphan is “burned up” by jumping between universes.

Quote of the Show


“There is no greater danger than that which is unknown.”

Questions About the Alterverse

If they can travel to the Alterverse as easily as they can travel within our universe, why have The Observers generally left the Alterverse alone?  (We know that an Observer observing Walternate in the Alterverse made Walternate not notice discovering the cure for Peter’s malady.)

Does the Alterverse have Observers of its own, or are they observed by Observers from our universe?

Does the Alterverse have a different destiny in which The Observers never develop?


Posted in Dreary Blue Episode, Fringe, Quotes, Science, Television | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 11 Season 5 The Boy Must Live

Posted by Karl Withakay on January 11, 2013

A Dreary Blue Episode

There won’t be a plot synopsis of this episode over at Polite Dissent this week.  The odds of there ever being one for this episode are asymptotically approaching the odds of winning the lottery, getting hit by lightning, or being bitten by a shark.

Are Those Hebrew Instruments?

Did anybody else notice that the readouts on the heart rate and other vitals on the setup monitoring Walter were going from right to left instead of left to right?

Can you Hear Me Now?

Technically, talking to someone in a sensory deprivation tank kind of defeats the whole sensory deprivation thing since you’re not depriving them of the sensation of hearing.

Person of Interest

Seeing as September was known to have previously sympathized with Walter and the Fringe team and was banished for it, you would think they might keep an eye on him with Walter at learge.

Possible Justification For Lax Effort of Observers and Loyalists?

Windmark’s superior told him that the anomaly and the Fringe team were inconsequential and that The Observers chose this time (2036) because it presented a 99.9999% probability of success.  Perhaps this is the explanation for not monitoring wireless communications, having no satellite or airborne surveillance, and all the other things I have been complaining about regarding their inept handling of the Fringe team being at large.  Windmark’s superior considers the odds of failure so remote that he is not approving sufficient resources for Windmark to properly run the occupation.

For the Search Engines

Feb 20, 2167 in Oslo Norway is the day of a discovery that eventually leads to the creation of The Observers.  A researcher discovered how to improve cognitive function by rewiring the part of the brain responsible for jealousy, sacrificing emotion for improved intelligence.

Retcon Point One

It is implied in this episode that the reason the Observers were observing the various points in Earth’s history was to determine the point in time in which their plan was most likely to succeed.  I actually think this was nicely done.

The Vulcans Would Be Jealous If They Expressed Emotions

Donald/September tells the Fringe team that emotions like passion and love were considered messy distractions and were machined out of the human race.  Without romantic love, other technologies for reproduction had to be developed.  I’m guessing the Vulcans would prefer the Observers’ method of reproduction to the embarrassment of having to endure Pon Farr.

Excelsior !

Donald/September’s son isn’t really a hybrid.  Hybrids are the result of sexual reproduction between different species, subspecies, or populations/ breeds/ cultivars.  His son is either mutant, if the changes are genetic and can be passed on to his progeny, or he is the result of a congenital abnormality, if the change is developmental and not genetic.  Technically, The Observers might consider him a regressive mutant, having recovered or re-developed features they previously intentionally eliminated form their species.

Setting Up the Grandfather Paradox

If they send The Boy forward in time to Feb 20, 2167 to prevent the eventual creation of the Observers, thus eliminating the invasion of the present, then the future will change, The Boy won’t be sent back in time, and can’t be sent forward in time to prevent The Observers from developing, thus ensuring The Observers will develop.

Tag, You’re It

If The Observers have the ability to tag someone so that they can track them, shouldn’t the first thing they do when taking someone prisoner (like they did Walter in a previous episode) be to tag them?

Booby Traps by ACME

Always make sure to put blinking lights on your booby traps to be fair to your enemy and give them a chance to survive.


Wait a minute, they have traffic cameras and only now have started checking them to see if they can find any sign of the resistance?

Retcon Point Two

Walter now realizes that September was speaking (totally out of context*) about his own son and not Peter when he told Walter, “The boy is important, he must live.”  Sorry, but I don’t buy it; this is clearly (in my opinion) a retcon.  There are at least one or two other times where Peter is specifically mentioned by Observers as being special.

* That could be forgiven as anyone who is in the habit of not experiencing time lineally could be forgiven for mentioning things out of context.

Quote of the Show


“Is that it?”


“You say that as if we’re not carrying technology that can bend space and time into a Möbius strip.”

Olivia Dunham: Super Genius

Olivia mentions that a woman and her son shouldn’t draw too much attention when trying to slip past the blockade and check points.  Sure Olivia, unless they’re looking for a young boy, in which case that’s exactly what would draw the most attention.

Posted in Dreary Blue Episode, Fringe, Quotes, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 6 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 11 Season 4, Making Angels

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 3, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Peter Being Selfish Again

I suppose it’s never occurred to Peter how it might affect Walter if and when Peter manages to get back to his time line.  I’m not even saying that it should be motivation for not trying to get back, just that at lest Peter might try to empathize a little and try to understand why Walter is being so short with him.

Mentat Astrid is Now Rain Man Astrid

I agree with Polite Scott that the other Astrid has gone changed from a mentat into basically someone with a form of autism spectrum disorder.  As much as I want to find her new found sensitivity and vulnerability endearing, I prefer Mantat Mentat Astrid.

Never Send the Fringe Team to the Congo

Once again, we have a mysterious, unexplained death due to an unknown cause where the body manifests strange signs such as bleeding from the eyes (a common symptom of hemorrhagic fevers, like Ebola), and there is no biological containment set up, no safety procedures, and no protective gear of any kind beyond gloves used.  Sooner or later, these guys are going to get themselves and a lot of other people killed.

Tears of Ra?

My research on Google and Wikipedia revealed nothing about any poison/ potion called the Tears of Ra used to euthanize pets.  All references to the Tears of Ra I found were in regards to bees being born from the tears of Ra or some variation of that.  (I did find one reference stating that humans were supposed to evolved from the tears or Ra, but no references to any potion or poison.)

Quote of the Show


“So you’re saying it’s magic?”


“It’s science, just unusual science.”

Mentat/Rain Man Astrid Makes a Mistake


“He’s not my son.”

Mentat/ Rain Man Astrid:

“As I understand it, in another timeline, he is.”

Actually, in another time line, he is Walternate’s son, not Walter’s.  In that time line, Walter did raise him though.

Choose to Believe?

Mentat/Rain Man Astrid:

“In that case, wouldn’t it be preferable if you chose to believe he was your son, and then you could love him and be happy?”

You may think I am being pedantic, but I would have phrased it “…if you tried to think of him as your son” and not used the word chose.  I don’t how easy it is for someone to actually choose to believe something rather than choose to act as if they believe something or come to believe something.  I can act as if I believe 2+2=5, I can come to a conclusion that 2+2=5 if I find compelling evidence that it is so, but I can’t just choose to believe 2+2 is 5 no matter how much I might want to.

Fringe Team, Trusted with the Safety of Two Universes #1

That attempt to arrest Neil on the job was one of the worst thought out operations the Fringe team has carried out so far.  I guess it never occurred to the Fringe team to arrange ahead of time for TSA clearance to get access to the security area or alert the TSA that Neil was a terror suspect suspected of using chemical weapons and have them detain him.  Even so, it also apparently never occurred to Olivia to shout out “Neil’s a terror suspect, arrest him!” when TSA wouldn’t let her through.

Slightly Absurd Product Placement

The Nissan Leaf is all electric, with no gasoline motor like hybrid vehicles.  It seems unlikely that the FBI would issue vehicles with a range of about 73 miles between charges for regular use.  It sure was convenient that the place where Neil used to work (MIT) happens to have a rapid recharge station, and they appear to let you use it for free.

No Search Warrant, No Problem

No further comment.

Fringe Team, Trusted with the Safety of Two Universes #2

Did it never occur to anyone to search Neil’s house for the Tears of Ra (or more of it if he had his atomizer on him) or the thing he said he had found that let him see the future?  Eh, there’s probably nothing interesting in that safe, just head back to the office.  They must have studied the Storm Trooper method of searching:  “Door’s locked, move on to the next one.”

Did Neil See All Possible Futures?

OK, the cancer thing I can sort of get; it was fatal, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.  (If only there was some way to get a cure for cancer from the future like you can get the formula for a poison).  But the guy’s car accident was preventable.  Why not prevent his suffering by preventing the accident rather than killing him before it happens?  Frankly, just the delay due to the conversation in the garage might have thrown of the timing enough to prevent the accident.

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Product Placement, Quotes, Television | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 1 Season 4, Neither Here Nor There

Posted by Karl Withakay on September 23, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Opening Theme Fringe Terms

The Fringe terms in the opening theme were:


Quantum Entanglement

Philosopher’s Stone


Viral Therapy

Ehthereal Plane


Time Paradox



Psychic Surgery


Existence, quantum entanglement, viral therapy, transgenics even gravitons aren’t really fringe science, though there could easily be fringe theories and applications of them and gravitons are purely hypothetical as of 2011.  Somehow I doubt this is what they meant by psychogenesis, and I’m wondering if they just thought it sounded fringey or they thought it meant psychic generation of abiogenic life.  I accept time paradoxes as fringe science.  The philosopher’s stone, psychometry, and bilocation are plain pseudoscience or prescience, and psychic surgery is outright fraud.

Continuity Questions

-Did Peter truly never exist at all, or did he die as a child in both universes?

-If Peter never existed at all, why did Walter start all of this if not to travel to the other universe to save Peter?

-What happened to Walter’s wife in this universe’s new continuity?

-How were the machines operated without a Peter or a Peter DNA source?

I’m sure there’s many more questions to be answered that I’m not thinking of off the top of my head.

Night of the Living Dead Pigeons

Is Walter trying to become Herbert West for birds?

Did Astrid back the Car Over Olivia’s Dog During Commercial?

It seems like Astrid is a field agent and Olivia’s partner at the start of the episode, but gets de facto replaced by NerdLee once he shows up at the lab.  My guess is that this will continue in future episodes with Astrid being demoted to Walter’s full time lab assistant from now on.

A Name Worthy of a Poorly Written Comic Book

What do the writers name a commuter that park and rides for her daily commute? Nadine Park, of course.  Why not just go with Carline Park-Ride?

Faith and Reason


“He believed that everything happened for a reason.  I’m having a hard time believing that there’s a reason for this.”

Everything happens for a reason from the perspective of cause and effect.  The reason something happens is the deterministic cause of that thing.  I believe though, that NerdLee meant that everything happens for a purpose, as in an intentional, directed purpose.  Hey, nobody ever said anything about a good reason or that it has to be good for you.

Heavy Metal Poisoning

Hair loss can be caused by heavy metals like Thallium, Mercury poisoning can damage the kidneys,  and lead poisoning can cause gout.  I had my doubts about gout until I looked it up; you learn something new every day.  Zinc can be toxic in sufficient  amounts, but I don’t think it’s a particularly common problem, although someone apparently once ingested $4.25 in copper plated zinc pennies for some reason and died as a result.

You’re So Transparent

Being transparent sure makes it easier to hit a vein for an injection.  It probably makes a lot of medical diagnostic procedures easy as well as cutting down on radiation exposure  by eliminating a lot of X-rays.

Quote of the Show


“People die.  It happens.  Sometimes they die twice.”

The Retcon Hasn’t Made Olivia a Better Agent.

How much closer was Olivia going to get to that suspect before she insisted he turn around, get on his knees, put his hands on his head and interlock his fingers, close enough for him to head butt her?  One episode into the retcon and she’s already been disarmed and nearly killed due to incompetence.

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Quotes, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 1 Season 1, Pilot

Posted by Karl Withakay on June 9, 2011

They were all Blue Episodes back then.

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

Opening Theme Fringe Terms

The Fringe terms in the opening theme were:




Artificial Intelligence


Dark Matter


Suspended Animation

Artificial Intelligence


Dark Matter


I guess the writers of the pilot ran out of fringe science terms and had to reuse three of them.  Frankly, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, dark matter, cybernetics don’t really qualify as fringe science.  The are legitimate, mainstream fields of research.  Teleportation on a quantum level is not fringe either, but anything on a larger level would qualify as fringe.  Suspended animation would fit nicely in the fringe category as well.  Psychokenesis, precognition, and transmogrification are just plain pseudoscience.

Yes, We Have COLOR TV in 2008!

The sign for the hotel at the beginning of the episode had Color Cable TV as one of the hotel features listed on their sign.  Um, when in the last 30 years did you see a hotel with a black and white TV, especially if they also had cable?

Olivia Dunham, FBI Interagency Liaison

Apparently inter-agency liaison is the position you assign the slow agents to before you transfer them to the Fringe Division.

Standard Level 4 Hazmat Suits?

I think the writers were thinking of Biosafety Level 4 biocontainment precautions, where level 4 is the highest level of precaution.  Hazmat suits come in levels A through D, where level A offers the highest level of protection.  (In Europe, hazmat suits are Types 1 through 6, with Type 1 offering the greatest level of protection.)

Fringe Division, On the Job

That plane would have been classified as a Biosaftey level 4 situation until they could determine what caused the deaths.  An unknown,  exotic , possibly infectious, possibly airborne, agent lethal to humans, for which there is possibly no known vaccine or other treatment was present inside the cabin.  If they couldn’t tow the plane to a hanger which they could then seal up, they would have probably done a better job enclosing the whole plane (or at least all hatches and exit doors) inside a containment tent system.  Also, they would never put people who had no experience with BSL-4 procedure inside that plane.  Someone might carelessly take a glove off and who knows what that could lead to?

Darwin Would be Disappointed

No wonder Olivia’s a liaison.  Olivia and Agent Scott are following up on a lead in a bioterrorism attack case where a plane load of people were killed by some unknown, possibly airborne bioagent, and they discover two mysterious, unlabeled gas cylinders in a dumpster.  What do they do?

A  Immediately call for a hazmat team to secure and investigate the cylinders.

B  Carefully secure the cylinders themselves for later investigation in the lab.

C  Hold the cylinders close to their faces and sniff them.

It’s a wonder Olivia manages to live through season one, let alone make it to season four.  (Sorry for the spoiler)

US Marine Corps Special Investigator

How was Olivia a US Marine Special Investigator?  Marine Corps criminal investigations are not the jurisdiction of the FBI.  Was she in the Marine Corps?  She had a 4 year degree, so if she was in the USMC, she should have been a commissioned officer, but US Marine Corps Criminal Investigation Division Agents are non-commissioned or warrant officers.  Major crimes are referred to the NCIS, and it’s possible the sexual assaults she investigated would fall under NCIS’s jurisdiction; was Olivia previously an NCIS agent?

Quote of the Show #1


“Sweetheart, we all care about someone who’s dying.”

Your Tax Dollars, Hard at Work

That sure was a nice plane the FBI used to fly Olivia to Iraq to retrieve Peter in luxury; there’s no flying coach on a crowded Airbus for Fringe Division.

You’re So Transparent

As implausible as the transparent Agent Scott may seem, it’s not completely out in la-la land.  Check out this extremely cool frog picture from National Geographic via P.Z. Meyers:

It’s a Moo Point

Yes, any mammal’s DNA is pretty close to a human’s, but there are far closer matches to human DNA, and better animals for research applicable to humans than a cow, such as monkeys, chimps, mice, rats, and the proverbial guinea pig.  I think Walter just wanted fresh milk.  I hope he didn’t drink it raw, but that would qualify as fringe- or pseud-oscience.

Quote of the Show #2


“The only thing better than a cow is a human, unless you need milk.  Then you really need a cow.”

Quote of the Show #3

Walter to Olivia:

“Of course, you’d have to have an electromagnetic probe place in the base of your skull whilst emerged without clothing in the old tank, and you’d be heavily drugged.”

Character Interaction and Dialog

From episode one on, Fringe has featured great character interaction and banter involving Walter and Peter.


“The man who was just released from the mental institution, he wants to give you a drug overdose and stick a metal rod into your head and put you naked into a rusty tank of water.”


“No, I don’t want to.  No, no, I’d rather not.  I’m just saying I can.

Assistant to the Liaison

If the liaison position is as crappy of an assignment as Broyles keeps implying, how crappy is it to be the assistant to the liaison?  I am convinced that Astrid must have backed her car over the FBI director’s dog to have been assigned as Agent Dunham’s assistant.

Cliché Time

This won’t be the last time Fringe features a basement lair accessed via a trap door hidden beneath a carpet.

Unanswered Question

Not to spoil anything for those just watching the show for the first time, but why didn’t Peter and Olivia remember each other?  Edit to add:  Why didn’t Olivia remember Walter?  Will season four actually answer this these questions?

Posted in Fringe, Quotes, Science, Television | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Sci-Fi Science and Skepticism Fail on Syfy

Posted by Karl Withakay on June 10, 2010

A couple of months ago, I was flipping through channels on my POOP TV* and caught a few minutes of one of those really bad, direct to cable movies they run all the time on the Syfy channel.  The movie was Savage Planet and before I changed the channel, I chanced to hear the following lines of dialog spoken by one of the characters in the movie:

“I always believed there had to be a scientific explanation for everything.  Science was the only answer.  Since I’ve been here, I’m rapidly becoming a skeptic.”

I hit the record button on my DVR remote so I could preserve that line of dialog for a potential future blog post.  However, I didn’t continue watching the program, and I stopped the recording after the dialog, so I only have a few minutes recorded.

I don’t really know what the character was specifically talking about, but I imagine it had something to do with the killer space bears the reviews say the movie contains.  Regardless, this quote is an epic fail on the part of the writers of the movie.  They apparently buy into the philosophy that “science doesn’t know everything”, which is really a misunderstanding of science, since science is a process, and not a body of knowledge or answers.

To quote the Wikipedia article on science,

“Science is a systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the world and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories.”

Science is not the answer, it is the means to an answer; it is they way to provide the explanation.  If it is beyond  your ability to explain scientifically, that is not a failure of science; that is a failure of your ability and knowledge base.  Lacking a scientific explanation for a phenomenon does not make that phenomenon supernatural or paranormal, it simply means you haven’t found the scientific explanation yet.  It can be very frustrating to not have the answer for something.  It can be even more frustrating to know that the answer to that question may never be discovered during your lifetime, but that is no reason to engage in a god of the gaps fallacy and invent some supernatural explanation just so you can have an answer.

The dialog is also a profound misunderstanding of skepticism and the skeptical community.  While the word skepticism can technically mean any questioning attitude, skepticism is about challenging claims lacking empirical evidence.  It is also about challenging and examining the evidence that is used to support a claim.  Skepticism is a crucible for inquiry in which claims are subjected to the fires of scientific scrutiny to burn away the extraneous fluff, leaving only scientific knowledge and/or more questions to be answered.

I don’t really expect any better for a low budget sci-fi movie that likely went straight to Syfy, but I wanted to blog about it because I’ve heard the “Science doesn’t have all the answers” gambit many times before, and I wanted to give my take on why that concept is so wrong.

*POOP TV:  Picture Out Of Picture.  I have a 40” HDTV sitting next to my 60” HDTV.  When I was researching buying a new 60” HDTV, I wanted to get a model with PIP (Picture In Picture) because my then current TV had it, and it was pretty nifty for watching one football game while keeping track of another.  I discovered that it would cost a lot more extra to get any of the current models with PIP, more than the cost of buying a second, smaller HDTV.  So I bought a budget model 32” LCD TV to go next to my new 60” model.  I found that I liked the setup not just for watching two football games at the same time, but also for watching TV while playing video games, especially when I am just performing some boring, repetitive action to level up a character, exploit a flaw in the game to generate endless amounts of money, or get some achievement.  I liked the POOP TV setup so much that a couple years later, I sold my 32” TV to a friend and upgraded the POOP TV to a 40” model.

I have no wife or kids, I have to spend my money on something, right?

Posted in Critical Thinking, Criticism, Quotes, Sci-Fi, Science, Skepticism, Space, Syfy, Television, Thoughtful/Random Observation | Leave a Comment »

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 20, Season 2, Northwest Passage

Posted by Karl Withakay on May 6, 2010

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

With Street Smarts Like That, No Wonder She’s Dead

Did the waitress just hook up at the local motel with every charming stranger that bought pie and coffee in the diner?

Gratuitous Product Placement Du Jour

Another gratuitous Ford product placement, this time for the Ford Taurus and its Sync based navigation system.

Ford’s Navigation Must Have a Very Good Location Database

It couldn’t find any city in the entire United States called Mars.  Wikipedia found two US cities currently named Mars, one in Pennsylvania, and one in Texas.

Quote of the Show #1

Peter talking to the Sheriff:

“I know how it sounds, but believe me, if you can imagine it, it’s possible.”

At least in Fringe land that’s true.

A Pen for Many Different Customers

“Find the Crack”  Do they also have those pens at the DEA?  Maybe they have them in the current season of Doctor Who as well.

WTF Was Peter Doing to Those Bullets?

Are hollow point bullets restricted in the state of Washington?  Why was Peter filing on the handgun bullets?  Soft point bullets don’t expand very well at handgun velocities, especially ones made in a hotel room with a file.  Was Peter perhaps carving crosses on them in case he had to shoot a vampire?

Do You Have Any Delicious Strawberry Flavored Death?  Yes, Aisle Five.

Apparently Potassium Bromate (KBrO3) may not be the best thing to improve flour with, though it’s still legal to use in the US.

Maybe She Had a Clue When They Posted Mid Term Grades

Walter speaking to Astrid:

“You’re a federal agent.  I doubt during your years of training that you had dreams of baby sitting a helpless old man.”

I’m No Doctor, But My BS Meter Was Registering Off The Scale

I’m not even going to bother Deconstructing that BS with the adrenaline & the time of death.

Are You Allowed to Work in the Fringe Unit if You Know Proper Firearms Safety?

Firing a handguns indoors without hearing protection is a good way to suffer some permanent hearing damage.  Based on the location of the windows in the room, it looked like they were in the basement or lower level, which brings up two other safety issues.  If the building had concrete floors, the bullet could had ricocheted, or if the floors weren’t concrete, the bullet could have penetrated to the upper floor and injured someone.  Hey Peter, why not just try shouting “BOO!’ when the sheriff’s back is turned if you want to scare her?

Quote of the Show #2

Sheriff to Peter:

“I think you’re looking for meaning in things that have no meaning.”

That’s what we humans tend to do; we are pattern seeking creatures.  Even when none exist, we tend to find them if we look hard enough.

Confirmed Sooner Than I Expected

Ladies and Gentlemen: Secretary Walternate Bishop.  Anybody want to guess what he’s secretary of?  My vote is for Homeland Security.

Posted in Fringe, Product Placement, Quotes, Science, Television | 4 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 »

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