Cordial Deconstruction

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

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Archive for the ‘This Blog’ Category

New Cordial Deconstruction Logo

Posted by Karl Withakay on March 29, 2011

I’ve created a new logo for my blog.  The horseshoe magnet and half circle protractor represent my interest in science and mathematics.

Unfortunately the theme I am currently using does not allow me to display a graphic in the title bar.  I may have to change theme or pay extra for the custom CSS upgrade.

I’m interested in what you think of it.  Please feel free to offer constructive criticism in the comments section.

3-30-11:  Version 2



Posted in This Blog | 9 Comments »

Fringe Renewed for Season 4!

Posted by Karl Withakay on March 25, 2011

Polite Scott sent me a link confirming that Fringe has been renewed for a fourth season!

This means at least one more year of blogging for me, or more properly, at least one more year of blog traffic for me since I do occasionally do non-Fringe posts, but my non-Fringe posts don’t get anywhere near the traffic my Fringe posts do.

I wonder if the show runners/writers will approach it as the last season, trying to bring everything to completion.  as much as I would love to keep Deconstructing Fringe year after year, it feels like the timing is right to start to bring it all home.  I think people will star to get frustrated if they drag the main story on too much longer.

I just hope they can avoid the problem most arc/non-episodic shows have had- the unsatisfying last season &/or conclusion.  (Battlestar, Sopranos, Lost, etc)

The fatalist in me wonders, will they let it run a full season, or will it get canceled mid-season?

Posted in Fringe, Television, This Blog | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Still On Vacation

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 18, 2011

I’m on a boat in the Caribbean headed back to the US with no access to the Fox network, and I will be unable to post my Deconstruction of this week’s episode of Fringe until Sunday afternoon/evening.  Until then, please enjoy this photo of a sea plane taking off in St. Thomas that I snapped from the balcony of my friends’ suite on the Norwegian Sun.

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On Vacation

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 9, 2011

2-11-11 Update: The Deconstruction of tonight’s  episode, Immortality, will be posted relatively on time.

I will be out of town on vacation Feb 10-20, and will not be able to post my Fringe Deconstructions for Feb 11 and 18 until Sunday evening, Feb 20th at the earliest.  There is a very slim chance that I might be able to watch the Feb 11 episode and post my Deconstruction from the hotel, but I will be on a boat in the Eastern Caribbean with no access to the Fox network on Feb 18.  I will post Deconstructions for these episodes as soon as I can when I get home.

Not only are my Fringe posts going to be delayed due to my Caribbean vacation, but I will miss out on a chance to hang out and drink with one of my favorite bloggers, P.Z Meyers, who will be in town on Friday.

Before I booked the cruise, I asked my friend Scott of Polite Dissent if he would go on a cruise if it meant being unable to having to wait until he got back to make two House posts.  He said it would suck a little, but it would be a little pathetic to pass up a Caribbean cruise for a TV show and advised me to go, even though nearly all my traffic is generated by my Fringe Deconstructions.  So you can partially blame Scott for not being able to read my Deconstructions right after the next two episodes.

Posted in Holiday, This Blog | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

2010 In Review

Posted by Karl Withakay on January 3, 2011

2011 Will be interesting when Fringe moves to Fridays.  It’s pretty much guaranteed I won’t be posting my Fringe Deconstructions on the night Fringe airs anymore;  I have a life and am usually doing something with friends on Friday nights.  It remains to be seen how this will affect my weekly traffic, given that the day after Fringe airs is my big traffic day, and that traffic recently jumped after started linking to my reviews.

I’ve been lazy since Fringe went on its holiday break, with several half finished posts and a series of undeveloped ideas sitting in queue, so here’s a lazy, automated post from WordPress on my blog’s performance in 2010:

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 5 fully loaded ships.


In 2010, there were 55 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 91 posts. There were 4 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 600kb.

The busiest day of the year was November 19th with 448 views. The most popular post that day was Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 7, Season 3, The Abducted.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,, Google Reader,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for level 6 eradication, fring review, eharmony sucks, 68339ae358, and fringe review.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 7, Season 3, The Abducted November 2010


Fringe Deconstruction Reviews January 2010


Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 17, Season 2, White Tulip April 2010


Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 9, Season 3, Marionette December 2010


Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 12, Season 2, What Lies Below January 2010

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WordPress Problems

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 19, 2010

WordPress made some changes and it ended up screwing up some of the links in the last Fringe post, as well as blanking out all the links in the Fringe review index page including all previous revisions of that page since October.  I edited the last Fringe post to fix the links and I restored the index page from an October backup and brought it back up to date as well.  The links should be fixed and working now.

Posted in Fringe, Television, This Blog | Leave a Comment »

Space Post Page Added

Posted by Karl Withakay on October 6, 2010

I now have a page with links to all my space themed posts.  I know you can use the space tag, but that returns full posts instead of just post titles and links.  Also, many of my posts that are not primarily space themed have space tags, and I wanted to provide a place to go to that lists the collection of posts which are exclusively dedicated to space topics.

Space Posts:

Posted in Science, Space, Stephen Hawking, This Blog | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Karl Withakay on August 23, 2010

It seems I have some German traffic from the German Scienceblogs site Frischer Wind where that blogger has linked to my post Flash Forward Gets Schrödinger’s Cat a Little bit Wrong in his post Robert J. Sawyer: Flash Forward.

It’s been more than 20 years ago since I took German in high school, so I won’t insult the German language by trying to use what little remains of my wortschatzie * to say hello to any German speaking visitors.

* For the English only speakers:  Wortschatzie is a German play on words.

Wortschatz is German for vocabulary; it translates literally to “word treasure”.  Schatzie is a German term of affection like honey in english; it translates to “little treasure”.  Wortschatzie would basically be “little vocabulary”/ “little word treasure”.  I tried it out on my native German speaking father, and he got it right away and thought it was witty.

Posted in Flash Forward, Science, ScienceBlogs, This Blog | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Reply to a Comment on Interstellar Travel

Posted by Karl Withakay on August 22, 2010

Someone going by the handle of Speising made a comment on my post Follow-Up: Energy Requirements of Interstellar Travel, and the reply I composed grew so large that I decided to make it into a full post.

The comment was:

“So what about ram-jet like ships? probably quite useless (to vulnerable) as carriers for an invasion force, but they do not have the problem of carrying all that fuel with them.
also, of course, If we assume ET doesn’t want to spend 200 or more years making a round trip to Earth… doesn’t necessarily apply for ET’s with, eg., longer life spans than ours.”

Thanks, for the comment, speising.  Basically, you’re talking about a Bussard Ram Jet.  There’s a few problems associated with that.

You’d be scooping up hydrogen to use as a fusion fuel, but hydrogen’s not a particularly good fuel for fusion, believe it or not.  The proton-proton chain, which is the primary source of energy production in stars less than 1.3 solar masses, is a very slow process (like an average of one billion years per reaction in the first step), which is a good thing otherwise the sun would have burned out after just a few million years.

You could theoretically use the CNO cycle for hydrogen fusion, but the confinement and cooling requirements would likely be insurmountable.  We’re talking about temperatures and densities greater than that of the core of the sun.

Also, the interstellar medium isn’t as dense with hydrogen as Bussard thought it was, and you probably wouldn’t be able to scoop up enough fuel.

All this completely ignores the shielding requirements, which I never even went into in my earlier posts, mostly because I concluded interstellar travel was already impractical before even getting to the shielding requirements.  Traveling at speeds even at one tenth the speed of light, every particle of dust floating in space is going to impact your space craft with a lot of kinetic energy.

Let’s assume a particle of cosmic dust floating in interstellar space with zero velocity relative to the Earth.  Let’s also assume this particle is medium sized cosmic dust, say 300 micrometers in diameter, and let’s further assume it’s density is average for cosmic dust, 2.0 g/cm^3.  This particle has a mass of only 2.82X10-8 kg or .028mg.   If our vessel is traveling at 1/10th the speed of light relative to Earth, that particle of cosmic dust is going to impact our spacecraft with a kinetic energy of 12 Megajoules.  To put that into perspective, lets assume a typical automobile mass of 1500kg (3300lb); that particle of dust is going to impact our spacecraft with the same kinetic energy as a car traveling at 454km/h (284mph).  How are you going to protect against that kind of collision, and what do you do if you run into a particle that was 10 or 100 time larger?  300 micrometers is pretty small; a strand of human hair is 100 micrometers wide.

In regards to the other part of your comment,

If we assume ET doesn’t want to spend 200 or more years making a round trip to Earth… doesn’t necessarily apply for ET’s with, eg., longer life spans than ours.”

I’ll just add that even if an alien species were to have a significantly longer life span that humans, it wouldn’t necessarily follow that their perception of the passage time or their value of time were different than ours.  If science found a way to extend you lifespan to 1000 years, would you be interested in spending 200 years in a submarine without port if there was an alien planet at the end of the trip?  I think 200+  years is still a long time, no matter how many years you have ahead of you in life.

Posted in Critical Thinking, Followup, Science, Skepticism, Space, This Blog | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Origins of My Pseudonym and My Blog’s Name

Posted by Karl Withakay on July 29, 2010

Tonight I decided to do a light and easy post on my pseudonym and blog name rather than the topic I originally planned to blog about, partly because I spent too much time playing Lego Harry Potter to have enough time to do a good job on the topic I was going to blog about.

Origins of a Pseudonym

Tonight I changed the display name for my blog ID to match the name I use pretty much everywhere else on the internet.  It’s the name I use in forums, when making comments on other people’s blogs, and elsewhere.  The name is Karl Withakay.

Until recently I never realized how many people don’t catch the play on words underlying that online name.  In fact, it seems that most people that I meet in person after “meeting” online haven’t caught it.  Perhaps that’s because they first see the name written (typed) online rather than hearing it pronounced out loud.  Once I explain it to them, they tend to say something to the effect of, “Oh, duh, I get it now.”

Apparently I’m not the first person to think up the pseudonym Karl Withakay:  This guy is not me, but apparently he came by the name through a similar process.  After years giving my first name as “Karl, with a K” to avoid any misspelling of my name, I eventually began to joke to my friends that I should change my middle name to “Withakay”.  When I first started registering to post on forums and blogs, I thus had the perfect pseudonym to use for my online persona, Karl Withakay.

Origins of a Blog’s Name

The name of this blog, Cordial Deconstruction was chosen after much deliberation and consideration of various names.  I’d been thinking of setting up a blog for a while and had always intended it to be related to critical thinking and deconstruction of  things like fallacious logic or bad science & plot lines in television shows and movies.

Before getting around to setting up my own blog, I had been commenting on various blogs like Science Based Medicine, Respectful Insolence, and Neurologica for several years, cutting my teeth on logical argument and online discourse.   I always strove to hold myself to the standard of conduct of the bloggers on those sites, keeping the discourse polite and cordial, even when completely deconstructing another commenter’s arguments.

The name I finally settled on for this blog was both a reflection of what the blog was going to be as well as a tribute to the blogs of two other people.  One is probably my favorite blog, Orac’s Respectful Insolence.  The other is the blog of my real world friend, Polite Scott of Polite Dissent.  Thus the current subtitle “(Not Polite or Respectful, just Cordial.)”

Posted in Me, This Blog | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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