The Invisible Woman

The Science of the Invisible Woman, posted by me to CRAM Science.

I still think the Fantastic Four could have been better interpreted as a harrowing psychological drama about four mentally disturbed patients who wrongly believe they have incredible powers. For example, Jessica Alba only thinks she is invisible when taking off her clothes.

Protest Warriors

People are now protesting other protests. I guess we've run out of hobbies.

The fine folks over at recently highlighted Protest Warrior - a group of right-wingers who turn up to counter-protest liberal demonstration. They also have access to a minimalist artistic genius, with a logo that has no blonde hair at all and still manages to be the most Aryan thing I've ever seen.

"Look, I'm not saying the Jews had it coming or anything but..."

You've got to respect a group dedicated to bringing the glory and intellectualism of internet forum arguments into the real world, hunting down people they disagree with and shouting "No it isn't!" Aside from simply existing, there are a few more mistakes they've made:

1. They're not helping the conservative cause.

It turns out that there isn't a binary "Right/wrong" switch in every argument. Saying any particular thing is correct or incorrect simply because of which political category you jam it into is like judging medicine based on what colour it is - wonderfully simple, saves a lot of thought, and will fuck you up right quick. Having these guys on your side is like having Ann Coulter or a diarrhetic chimpanzee; they're eager to help, they've got lots to contribute, and your best bet is to lock them in a cupboard and hope no-one hears them. This playground contrarianism is not helping those conservatives who have sensible things to say.

2. Authority figures do not like them.

Some of their "after action reports" (the "action" normally consists of being ignored or shouted at) talk of sharing nods and understanding with the police and security guards present, not realising that those people hate them. Think about it: You're a peace officer assigned to a protest. Would you prefer

a) A group of liberal hippy protestors moving in an orderly fashion. Note that the average hippy is about as likely to start photosynthesizing as he is to start a fight.
b) Two groups, violently opposed to each other, with you in the middle. The second group is composed of people like this.

Thanks a lot, Protest Warrior, you've turned a milk run into a potential riot. Come over here, I'll show you how a taser works.

3. Liberal protests aren't a threat.

Setting up counter-liberal protests is like becoming a vigilante struggling against late library returns - you're not solving a real threat. In February 2003 over six million people protested the invasion of Iraq around the world, in a record-breakingly huge demonstration in over 60 countries including several national capitals. You may have noticed that the war failed to not happen, and the average "Aha, fuck you" implications of the political announcements has gone up since then. That day of protest conclusively proved that such demonstrations unfortunately achieve nothing; and if a globally co-ordinated effort by a group with the same population as Hong Kong doesn't affect things, a group of student liberals with placards does not need a specially trained counter-force.

PS That said, I do love their anti-communism sign, though the pistol-r is completely unnecessary. I suspect placing guns in any and all unnecessary locations is not incompatible with the average Protest Warrior.

Review - Moonbean coffee

30 St Andrew, Kensington Market

Don Guiseppe relaxed. With the ear of their leader nailed up as a warning sign, the Metal Men would bother his legitimate business no more.

In the chilled district of Kensington Market, you'll find the second hippy-est cafe in Toronto - Moonbean Coffee. (The absolute hippy-est is around the corner, the Kensington Cafe, which wins the title with it's awesome swingseats).

Moonbean has so many coffees, and so little space, it's not actually possible to fit them all in one shot. However the top row are flavoured coffee beans and therefore do not count.

Coffee is very important to me, without it I would stumble around known only as "That guy who falls asleep when asked who he is". Moonbean provide an excellent and ever changing selection of beans for home grinding, and when I find myself choosing between blends like "Devils Brew" and "Colossus" I know I have found a business that understands my morning coffee needs exactly. The cafe has all the advantages of the non-chain coffee shop, a sense of individuality and character. The occasionally cramped seating and wobbly tables is an acceptable price for the fun feel and unique clientele. Plus I love coffeeshops where 'Grande' is just the title of a mexican-themed wrestler.

I'm making modern art pieces. I call this work "Sleep is for pussies"

You have to visit once if only to try the 'Herculatte'. Bear in mind that the Godfather Marlon Brando could beat someone to death with their own severed arm for preparing his latte incorrectly, and he would still look girly for having ordered a latte. But Moonbean do a good job of manlifying this milky drink by serving it in a mug the size of a childs face and pumping three shots of espresso in there. If one of these doesn't wake you up, please report directly to your nearest Emergency Room and inform them that you are dead.

Moment of clarity

Walking through the gym the other day I notice one of the training rooms blocked off with a sign saying "Womens only training hours". "Damn", I think, "That must be pretty hot."

Then I realise "Congratulations, self, you're the exact reason they need women-only training hours in the first place".

Review - Rong Hua restaurant

478 Dundas St

I can't read a word or even see inside - let's eat here!

It scores highly on the "foreign restaurant" stakes since it
a) does not appear to have even a letter of English to its name* and
b) it's backed off the street, looking pretty shady so that
c) basically it's the kind of place a lone hero enters and has to fight the entire clientele, after throwing a knife-wielding chef through the plate glass fronting.

* - It actually has an English sign, but overhanging the pavement so far out you can only see it from the other side of the street. The idea is perhaps that once the English-speakers venture too close, they are already lost.

Rong-Hua-man cursed. With that silver station wagon in the way, he would never get the Rong-mobile back into the RongCave

Any ethnic restaurant can be judged on the nationality test: how many of the diners are actually from that culture. Fukian snacks scores over one hundred percent there - not only was every single guest chinese, they were such Fukian regional chinese that even Xin (a chinese national fluent in both mandarin and cantonese) could not penetrate a word of their dialogue beyond "Yep, that's heavily accented Fukian dialect all right".

Another element of the "small chinese restaurant feel" is how food is the priority. The ONLY priority. The restaurant consists of a kitchen for food-making, store rooms for food-keeping, and then some space for those troublesome people who keep arriving and taking it. As you squeeze past the counter and walk through a store room to get to the bathrooms, you realise they're only there because they are absolutely legally required - though they are usably clean unlike the excellent-food-but-nothing-else Kom Jug Yuen around the corner.

The sweet and sour lychee pork was good since it was actually sweet and sour, not the sugarised-syrup meat chunks that often get passed under that name. Xin ordered some strange salty-water-and-little-clam stuff, but assures me that it was quite well done salty-water-and-little-clam stuff. I couldn't tell, because it was pretty much salty water. And little clams. Service was nice and fast, with the usual chinatown "What do you want right here now go" brusqueness rather than the "How may we help you" speed some may expect. I enjoy this confidence because it's well earned: these people know their food is good and if you don't want it, you're welcome to not come back.

This restaurant does exactly what it claims to but nothing else. If you want good cheap Fukian food it's the place to go - if you want anything else at all, it isn't.

How to write Mandarin

If you want to write chinese characters, simply dip a spider in alcoholic ink and place it on a page. Then wait for an earthquake. I'm not saying that mandarin characters are unnecessarily complicated, but people have been known to die of starvation while attempting to read a menu. And there is the story of the man writing a birthday card who found it was out of date when he finished.

My Chinese girlfriend tells me that their language isn't actually an IQ-burning trap devised against the white-devils. This is the same person who as a child was punished by being made to write out her own name a hundred times, based on the fact that Chinese names can be complicated enough to make this a frustrating and boring torture. For a country that views education and medical care for the population as optional extras that's some pretty impressively advanced psychological control. Communism may be impractical but conditioning children to hate their own names is a pretty good stab at making it work. "To hell with my hateful individual name!" cries the child, casting aside the pen and taking up the Glorious Peoples hammer and sickle, "I will become a faceless soul among many - all hail the glorious hive mind!"

Think I'm kidding? In English the letter 'I' is the absolute simplest letter you can conceive of, a single stroke - the mandarin equivalent is . Try writing that - it's only marginally quicker than sketching a quick self portrait. Even better, spot the difference between and - one means "me", the other means "workman" and "spear"; of course, the fact that the language of a large population views the concept of self and armed warrior as synonymous shouldn't be of any concern. Especially to Russia, their immediate neighbours with rich mineral resources.

A pictographic language reveals a lot more about a culture's history and development than a character-based one. Many chinese characters developed from simple pictorial representations, and evolved over time as they were needed - which makes the following set quite interesting:

That's right; the language was at the point of differentiating between different types of stabbing weapon long before the concept of "love" needed to be written down. Distinguishing between different bladed implements designed for killing takes only two strokes, while the concept of love takes ten - so you have to choose between liking someone or knifing them five times. This is a language developed by people who didn't mess about, and by "mess about" I mean "not stab people".

There are insights into the sexual politics of Chinese history too. The character means female, and is child, or in some cases teenage. Put them together, and you get , meaning good. You know, "good like a young girl" being a universal constant; to say China was patriarchal would be like claiming that Hitler had some effect on local politics. Another window into the equal opportunity heaven that is the Mandarin language is means "too much, excessively" while means "wife". Clearly this is a culture where women hold an important position, and have to keep holding it until the man is finished and falls asleep.

Getting off the subject of how the language speaks of a time about as interested in equal opportunity as a drunk rugby team, and back into how it's just spitefully difficult, observe counting down from five to zero.

Note how it fakes you out with some apparent reason and simple order on the way down to one, before breaking out the zero. You might recognise it as the Mind-Smashing ImpossiPuzzle that Captain Genius had to solve to save the universe from the Sanity Breakers. It's possible to write the Theory of Relativity in less strokes than that.

So ends my first foray into the world of the Mandarin language. Since I'm not quite fluent yet, you can expect to see more.

Forum Safety Tips

Forum Safety Tips for your edification and entertainment over at CRACKED.

Happy Boys

The company behind the phenomenally popular Chinese "Super Girl" series (think pop idol, with girls only, and released in a country that hasn't developed an immunity to idol shows yet) are replacing it with a male equivalent, "Happy Boys", proving that it's possible to make something enjoyed by over a third of a billion people but not have a clue about the real reason it's popular. The producers live in an admirable, if naive, world where it's the excellent singing and genuine interest in the development of a young artist that keeps people watching, where the young attractive girls performing for the viewers approval is merely a fringe benefit.

They may be using boys to destroy the concept of their massively popular show, but it's taking revenge by annihilating the very concept of 'boys'. The happy boys are the most effeminate males this side of a gender-change surgical theatre waiting room. I honestly cannot imagine a girlier boy existing anywhere until a male ballerina is touring a biological lab and is accidentally bitten by a radioactive tutu.

At great risk to my own Y chromosome I've been wading through images of the pansies posturing for popularity, chewing cigars and wrestling bears which are also chewing cigars once an hour to preserve my testicular integrity. I have skimmed off only a few examples below, but in order to prevent a critical loss of manliness you are advised to watch a Schwarzenegger film or headbutt a wall for each of the following pictures you look at. Even if you're a girl.

This person is listed as a "boy", proving that the Chinese must have advanced automation to an impressive degree, as only a soulless machine could have ticked the "male" box for this contestant without adding a question mark or demanding a full medical exam. Cover everything below the neck with your hand, tell yourself that you're looking at a guy. This will feel similar to when you say "I'll just have the one" or "I swear I'll go to the gym tomorrow".

I've seen prepubescent albino girls with manlier frames than that, and I can only assume that emergency ripcord on his shirt is so he can swiftly pull it off to prove he doesn't have breasts. He's obviously used to defending his gender, with that piece of throat armour ready to flip up and conceal his critical lack of adams apple, drawing any attackers within range of those loose dungaree straps hanging from his belt - though when you're fighting accusations of being a slightly mannish lesbian, loose dungaree straps don't help your case one bit.

This guy has absolutely no right to be involved in any project where the concept of maleness is even implied. He should be serving coffee in a feminist library, being obsessed over by pseudo-intellectuals who can remember in vivid detail every time a girl has accidentally brushed against them. They're scared off talking to her by the gang-sign of "The Mincing Mimsies", who dominate the downtown with their cutting fashion co-ordination and strike fear into their enemies with choreagraphed dance numbers.

Now this is just a tragedy of overcompensation. While marching into the wilds and wearing the skin of whatever you kill out there is incredibly manly, it only works with bears and wolves. Something that had a chance of eating you. Marching into a farm and slaughtering a sheep does not cut it. When your barbarian garb is 100% wool and machine washable, you fail to inspire the fear of the bloodthirsty warrior in those who behold you. You inspire the urge to lay your robes in front of a blazing log fire and curl up with a mug of cocoa, and after that you might as well hand your penis in as dead weight.

Even worse is the way the forearm sections are crudely tied down, as if this tender flower would do anything dramatic enough to risk it coming loose. It takes a lot for someones elbow to look small and fragile next to a blanket and a rug, but through a lifetime of avoiding protein and sunlight this brave stick-insect impersonator has managed it. I will move on to another target now, for fear that even the weight of my criticism might snap his rickety bones.

I don't know how this guy got into the competition - perhaps the Advertising Commisison warned the producers that they'd better show something that actually looks like a "Boy" soon or face stiff fines. All I know is that they took a Bond villain, disarmed him by giving him a rimless hat, and shoved him into the mix to bring the average manliness up to a non-zero number, and for that we can all appreciate his sacrifice. Look at the toll it's taken on him; I don't care what you say about racial traits and characteristics, anybody with a face like that used to have chest hair and his has been burned off by sheer overexposure to the other contestants, whose abundance of estrogen is slowly robbing him of his manhood by osmosis. But he soldiers on, brave soul, and for that he will forever be remembered in the Halls of Valhalla; albeit a hall that smells more of air-freshener and grooming products than the others.


The producers threw everything they could at this one to make it look male. It's a bad sign when the schizophrenic combination of army camoflague pants and flourescent construction gear, on a truck, in a loading dock can't diffuse the overall feel of "girly". It adds up to the worst attempt by anybody to be something they're not since Vanilla Ice first said "Yo". Best of all is the expression of pure disgust on the face of the driver, who's obviously worked ten hours a day since he was five and is now turning his cold stare on the viewer:

"You did this. By watching you are complicit in these crimes. You have made a joke of all I and my kind have ever stood for."

After his photo was taken, he walked into the distance to become a lumberjack.