7 min read

When Things Don't Make Sense...

In this issue, we tackle the even more nonsensical approaches to stoking culture war flames to the humans ability to actually move celestial bodies!
A picture of a confused obi wan kenobi from attack of the clones and the caption reads visible confusion

About The Last Two Weeks

Welcome back (or welcome) to my newsletter. This is issue number two and I felt that the theme for this one would be things that don't make sense. It is obviously a ruse for some considerations on media, science, and so on - after all, the things I talk about end up mostly making sense in a wider context. But it strikes me that so often, we need to consider the nonsense at face value as a valid position. And how much effort we have to go through to dismantle the nonsense being paraded as valid, true, and real.

A few examples of these in the last 14 days. The first one is the simply ridiculous claim that the Roal Dahl Estate is changing some rude or discriminatory words in the new editions because of pressure from the 'woke mob'. The honest debate would have been "should we update texts that have discriminatory or unpalatable words?" But it became another right-wing litany of complaints against "cancel culture". Let's be serious! The Dahl Estate is not responding to the woke mob. It is responding to the market. They have done edits before and I am sure will do more in the future, and seeing people who I believe are intelligent seriously entertaining the idea that this is anything more than marketing is a bit disappointing. Like, there are no people with pitchforks out there demanding these changes.

And talking about people of pitchforks, a transphobic councilor in London has claimed something absurd and yet got a national article out of it. She was in a pub toilet where the hand drier was not working and a trans woman sharing the bathroom said to her "I'm gonna dry my hands on my penis." As a penis-haver, I can confidently state that no person in the history of humanity has thought: there is no way to dry my hands in this bathroom, the best I can do is use my dick! Penises are not absorbent. But things that don't make sense are clearly not put under too much scrutiny if it brings those sweet sweet clicks to your hate rag.

The trans woman in question actually made a thread where she discussed how she said she'd wipe her hand on her jeans. Truly transphobic nonsense in the UK is reaching new peaks.

To wrap up the intro, I think it is unavoidable to have to deal with nonsense, especially when it becomes a main narrative. But I think mockery of it should be given a greater footing. Do not just accept it as plausible. If the framing or subject of something is ridiculous, say so! Call out the people that push stupid narratives as being gullible! A modicum of shame might go a long way.

a gif from downton abbey with the buttler saying "Have you no shame?"

WHAT I LOVED WRITING THIS FORTNIGHT

So what doesn't make sense in the world of Science? Well first up, is this phenomenal study that has discovered some truly massive galaxies in the early universe. The detection came from JWST and one of the objects is as big as our own Milky Way even though it is only between 500 to 700 million years old! Our galaxy took 13.8 billion years to get this big.

While that is weird, this is not the nonsense part yet. The galaxies are all close together in the sky. So statistically, you would find such big galaxies everywhere. And there is not enough gas in the universe to form as many stars as such a population of galaxies would require. If these galaxies are truly so massive, there is something completely wrong with our models.

Models can be wrong but not that wrong. So something else might be going on. The team thinks that the galaxies are not as massive as they appear and that maybe black holes are giving us an unhelpful read!      

Distant Galaxies Spotted By JWST Seem More Massive Than What Is Thought Possible
Measurements find truly bizarre values for a handful of distant galaxies against model predictions.

The other story doesn't have a link to nonsense, but it is just too cool not to mention! Back in September, the DART mission hit the asteroid Dimorphos. This body orbits a slightly bigger object called Didymos and it was an ideal testing ground for a kinetic impact. This is one of the possible ways that we could deflect an asteroid or comet.

And the test went fantastically! Five papers came out describing this successful mission and it is a bit sci-fi that humanity actually shifted the orbit of a celestial body making it almost 33 minutes slower.  

Humans Really Did Manage To Move A Celestial Body - And By A Fair Bit!
The help of citizen scientists was key to determining the change in Dimorphos’ orbital period.

Wait! There is some nonsense! Before it was given the name Dimorphos, the moon of Didymos was affectionately called Didymoon. But it did not stick scientifically. Boo at the International Astronomical Union for not being fun!


BONUS SPACE VIDEO:

A brief timelapse of the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter tonight, as they come into view in the London dusk. The two planets are less than one degree part in the sky.

👾
Currently playing Hades. And it doesn't make sense because a game that should be quite repetitive (constantly trying to escape Hades through a series of chambers) is actually so very compelling! Fantastic voice acting that brings the characters to life! I can't wait to go die some more.

Reading Reccomandations

Non-fiction

My dear friend, Vaneet Metha has written a great book called Bisexual Men Exists after a hashtag he started. It is about multigender-attracted men (or m-spec - the umbrella term that includes bisexuality, pansexuality, and other sexualities). It is a no-nonsense manual (see what I did there ;-) that discusses the many challenges that m-spec men face in society. It truly makes clear the extent of how many harmful ideas and stereotypes about non-binary sexuality (so not straight or gay) we continue to have in society. I know full well I held some of those and I hope I have unlearnt them.

There are some hard passages to read, upsetting statistics, and things that make you say "how is that possible in the year twothousandandtwentythree?!" But it is a book that shows that a better kinder world is not just possible, it can be here so readily if we actually take the time to improve our society, with lots of advice for m-spec people.

My copy of Bisexual Men Exist

Fiction

I am still on book 11 of the Wheel of Time... but I am traveling before the next newsletter so maybe I will have finished it!

Loial in the Wheel of Time tv show saying: "Always in such a rush, these humans."

But it was also World's Book Day this week so here is me reading a passage that I love from Carl Sagan's Contact. It is so funny how much I love the book and movie but for very different reasons.

@drcarpineti

#WorldBookDay #Sagan #contact

♬ original sound - Alfredo Carpineti

Recipe of the Fortnight

Would be very tempting to just link to one of those terrible TikTok recipes here but let's be a bit creative with the nonsense theme. I wrote up the recipe for Spaghetti All'Assassina (Killer Style). It is not exactly non-sensical it's just a pasta recipe where you don't boil the pasta in water but treat it like a risotto!

Spaghetti All’Assassina (Killer Style)
For the first recipe in the newsletter, I’m going for a killer one: spaghetti all’assassina - killer style. Forget everything you have learned about cooking pasta because this recipe is extremely unconventional. Originally from the city of Bari in Puglia (the heel of the boot), this 1970s recipe app…

Music to my Ears

Ok, let's keep the theme going: When it comes to things that don't make sense, a podcast recommendation for Worst Foot Forward! I was on the episode about the Worst Planet (controversial choice, I know!) but check out also the World's Worst Conspiracy theory:

And we are still recording a new season of The Astroholic Explains so this time I suggest the non-sensical "dream" of moving permanently to Mars:  


So what about little Llywelyn? Well, you tell me if it makes any sense that he can happily sleep like this!

Our corgi sleeping belly up, twisted against the skirting board with a grin on his face