CRRRaSh! 259 Zombie Brains!

By Roy Mathur, on 2019-04-19, at 23:38:27 to 00:26:19 BST, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

Errors and Omissions, and the Usual Geek Natter

In lieu of having any correspondence, let me take the opportunity to correct a few other past errors and omissions. So let's do it and answer questions no one asked, but I am answering anyway.

Also, we'll talk about the usual weekly geek. Note: this is my regularish multi-topic show, not the single topic that I urge you to also listen to. I just did episodes on Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars.

Notre Dame Fire

In a chillingly similarly incident that destroyed Brazil's National Museum last September, a short circuit is thought to have started the fire that engulfed Notre Dame on Monday.

If you look at the before and after photos... well, it's a disaster. My stomach churns just looking at the mess, and I'm sure my aunty and uncle and relatives who live in Paris are going to be devastated by the loss.

I visited the cathedral many times, both with those relatives and my mum and dad, and it is one of our favourite places. I particularly like it for the gargoyles, which look as though may be undamaged. It's a small thing, but it's something.

The Medieval cathedral took about two hundred years to build and fifteen hours to gut. Although not completely destroyed, the damage is extensive and includes the destruction of the central spire and many works of art within the interior.

Despite nearing one billion pounds in donations, the restoration costs will be several billion and take years to rectify. I'll probably be dead by the time they do that, so, that many years.

Returning to the case of Brazil's National Museum. That fire, due to a wiring fault, is also why, and I hope you're listening British Museum, you have a greater responsibility to protect cultural works in your possession that don't actually belong to you, but arrived by some tortuous, circuitous, and possibly nefarious route.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Finale

That seven signal/red angel arc was unbearable, long, and boring. The main plot was excruciating and hard to follow.

But there's been some interesting character stuff. I was really touched by the way Michael's adopted family gets so broken up with the certainty of never seeing their daughter again. Sarek actor, James Frain, really nails overpowering sadness breaking through Vulcan control. I thought that was breathtaking acting.

Overall, however, I haven't enjoyed the show this season.

Latest Video Acquisitions

I bought Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on Blu-ray from Poundland, and Drag me to Hell and the Alien Quadrilogy from CeX. I wanted the trilogy because I really don't like anything post-Alien 3 (except Covenant), but there you are.


I keep mentioning this as a place where I buy second hand DVDs. Confusing!

When I left the UK in the early 2000s, Poundland didn't exist, but in Canada, where I moved to, the dollar store did. When I left Canada, my vocabulary peppered with North Americanisms combined the two, and thus I say things like "Poundstore". It really is the epitome of embarrassing transatlantic conflation.

That UK Porn Block Thingy Again

It's going to make MindGeek rich. This is the company behind AgeID, Pornhub, RedTube, YouPorn, Brazzers, Digital Playground,, Reality Kings, and Sean Cody.

The porn pass makes people's data less private, and it won't protect children because if you build a wall, people, especially young people, will find a way under it, over it, or around it. If you want kids not to see this stuff, you have to educate them.

The porn pass is a waste of time, it's puritanical, and it's going to bite us on the backside when all that data goes for a walk.

Walk Wiped Me Out, But Google Fit Didn't Count My Steps

I was so wiped out last Sunday. What happened was that I decided to give myself a little health check by doing some exercise to see how I felt. I did some press-ups and went for a 5 km walk to the local bike shops and back.

Turns out I'm really unfit. That impromptu self health check was the reason I was too tired to podcast on Sunday night.

What really bugs me is that Google Fit, for some damn reason, wasn't working properly and counted my epic march as a pathetic stroll. Somehow high accuracy was off, though I don't remember switching it off. God, I hate Google Fit. Why isn't there some better free fitness tracker? If you know of one...

Ofo Bicycles

For a while, we've had Santander bikes in our city. More recently, we had stupendously expensive to hire Lime bikes, which I tested and talked about in 227.

On Wednesday, I spotted a bright spanking new Ofo bike. I didn't even know they were in my city, and Ofo has closed down in the UK, so I suppose it was an Ofo someone has bought second hand, or, ahem, liberated.

Nothing so exciting, I think Ofo flogged their bikes to wholesalers when they went belly-up. They look quite nice. I do need a bicycle because anything's better than paying through the nose for petrol, so... eBay? Yeah, around GBP 80.

Not Yet Recycled Symbol

I hate the "Not Yet Recycled" sign. Why is this stupid thing of yours not recyclable?

I'm trying to phase out stuff with microplastics, mostly because I don't want to kill the planet, but also because a lot of stuff makes me itch. Don't know how I'm going to replace wool susbstitutes like acrylic though because even Angora makes me itch.

But yeah, now that I'm walking so much, trainers or boots that don't wear out for a few years would be good. My running shoes only last 500 miles and I'm on my third pair.

I am just sick of this. Like many people, I try and recycle as much as possible, but I get the distinct impression that companies and governments are not keeping up their end of the bargain. Why are we turning Planet Earth into Planet Garbage?

Extinction Rebellion

Well done to the climate collapse (let's stop calling it climate change) protesters working hard to get governments off their backsides and do something before Planet Garbage happens (see last item).

There are events all over the place, but the one most relevant to the part of the UK in which I live is the two-week event called Shutdown London starting on Monday 15th April. It's still going on and seems to be having quite an effect.

Moreno Lobster

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno is still insisting that Assange violated the terms of his asylum, though the charges seem petty, ridiculous, and possibly made up.

The real reason could be a recent series of embarrassing leaks. A Reuters article states that Moreno accused WikiLeaks of leaking the questionable financial records of the president's brother, while an AP article says he also accused WikiLeaks of leaking a photograph of him reclining on a hotel bed enjoying a luxurious room service spread that included a monster sized lobster. It's good to be king--er--president.

While Moreno has done good things for disability issues, in this matter he's proved himself to be a right tool.

BT Public WiFi Kiosks Censorship

Gizmodo reports that BT has an automatic call blocking feature in all InLinkUK kiosks "to prevent misuse of the free calls". Although this misuse isn't explained, Gizmodo refers to a Times article that says that the kiosks are being used for drug deals.

It works by using an algorithm (i.e. computer program; stop saying algorithm) that includes anonymised data such as the frequency and length of call.

Bubble Boy Cure

The BBC reports that new research at a Tennessee hospital cured babies suffering from SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency).

Bubble Boy refers to the case of David Vetter, who was born without an immune system and had to live in a plastic bubble, until he died after a bone marrow transplant. The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976) was a film based very loosely on his life that starred John Travolta.

The gene therapy used HIV as a vector to reintroduce altered DNA from the babies own bone marrow. The babies treated now have working immune systems. Despite these latest findings, research using HIV as a vector has been going on for a more than a decade.

Zombie Brains!

In recently published research in Nature, the disembodied brains of pigs were partly revived by Yale University scientists... several hours after death.

The brains were connected to a machine that fed them a blood-like liquid. This reduced post-death brain damage and restored some brain cell function, including the ability to use glucose and the communication links between brain cells called synapses.

The terrifying bit? The liquid contained drugs to help cells recover, but also to avoid the risk of the brains experiencing consciousness. This was only a precaution because the procedure only enabled the function of some individual brain cells, not the brain as a whole. Still, it is only slightly less horrifying. Though, of course, fiction got there first; see Brain (1981) by Robin Cook.

The research does hold out slight promise for preserving brain or other organ function for use in lab research.

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell, who died in 1987, was a university professor who worked in comparative mythology and religion. His best known work is The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The book discusses the hero's journey, shared by the mythologies of different cultures. This is also called the monomyth.

Here's my mistake. Around about 2012, someone in a writing group mentioned this one too many times (by this time, I had heard Campbell lauded for years and I was just fed up about it) and I got really annoyed and said that it was a guideline, not a manual. My mistake is that I didn't go far enough. It isn't even that. It wasn't meant to even be a guideline. It was Campbell's academic analysis of the monomyth. Even in academia, it is thought to be too generic a theory today.

Why is this important? Because George Lucas had some luck using the book as a template for the journey of Luke Skywalker in the very first Star Wars trilogy starting with A New Hope, every geek wannabe author and screenwriter keeps spouting Joseph Campbell with religious fervour, and I'm sick of it.

Just write your story. Make sure it's holds the reader, makes sense, and is grammatically correct.

Maybe I'm worrying too much about this because there is a lot of fiction that completely ignores the monomyth. Great films like Drag Me to Hell (2009) don't even really have heroes. There's no triumphant or happy ending.

I'm sure I'm oversimplifying, but using The Hero with a Thousand Faces to structure your work adds an extra layer of complication and also constrains your creativity. It was a thing, in addition to great acting, FX, art direction, and photography etc., that worked for Star Wars 4, 5, and 6, but what about 7, 8, and 9? Exactly.

Just. Write. Your. Story.

I Have Been Podcasting a Lot

...Not so much to get download figures up, but to solicit listener feedback. So, if you're out there, what are you waiting for?

Luminary Paywall

I listen infrequently to exactly one Luminary podcast; Love+Radio. Now I hear they're trying to pull off being the Netflix of podcasting. Actually, calling it the Netflix of podcasting is a terrible analogy because with Netflix I'd have a variety of stuff to watch, but with Luminary, for me at least, I'd only be listening to Love+Radio for the monthly price of USD 10 /week.

Sure, other big podcasters are coming to Luminary; TED's Guy Raz and Planet Money's Adam Davidson etc., but charming as these chaps are, I watch their current shows non-Luminary shows only now and then. Luminary currently has 40 shows on the go. I had a look and none of them interest me enough to pay, despite the charm of their hosts.

I Found A New Cupboard

Welcome to Roy's personal Twilight Zone.

My Dad Is Wearing My Clash T-Shirt

I kid you not, but my elderly father has taken to wearing my Clash t-shirt. I suppose that really is the very epitome of punk rock.