Posts Tagged ‘youtube’

Feminist WARS: The Farce awakens: Transcript

December 14, 2014

Many thanks to Linda for supplying this transcript!

[0:00] Thunderf00t: What’s that? Anita Sarkeesian was invited to talk at a conference on digital ethics? Really? Are we talking about the same Anita Sarkeesian who says this about piracy:

[0:13] “Why we need you Veronica Mars”: “That said, you should go out immediately and BitTorrent, pirate, rent, buy—whatever you have to do to watch Veronica Mars.”

[0:20] Thunderf00t: -and the one who laments that third parties cannot flag things as harassment—which means that it was Anita who saw these tweets and thought they were so offensive that they warranted flagging someone off Twitter, and it couldn’t have been third parties.

[0:37] Thankfully, after I was initially suspended, Twitter very quickly saw the light and reinstated my account.

[0:44] Look, Anita, let me explain why random third parties cannot flag stuff for ‘harassing’ someone else. First and foremost, it’s a blank cheque for flagging campaigns.

[0:57] Now I know you like to change the rules such that the internet is just one giant echo chamber for your opinion:

[1:03] Sarkeesian: “How are their forums allowing conversations to happen or not happen? What are—there’s so many things, right? We could brainstorm a million ways that we could create these structural changes. And creating structural change means people have to follow those structures.”

[1:17] Thunderf00t: And I hate to break this to you, but if it does come down to this flagging war that you seem to be itching for, it will be minorities and batshit crazy groups like your own brand of feminism that will be crushed.

[1:31] And even if by some miracle you win, and convince Twitter to turn itself into an echo chamber where only your particular brand of feminism will be allowed:

[1:42] “Feminism in Focus – Anita Sarkeesian”: “But one way that I personally deal with comments is to moderate them, because I really want to create a space where people can come and engage with feminist ideas, where they don’t have to risk being harassed or ridiculed.”

[1:54] The Colbert Report: “That’s right. It’s a safe space where like-minded folks can hear things they already agree with from someone who’s opinion they already know.”

[2:01] Thunderf00t: All you will achieve is to create an opening in the market to be filled by someone who actually does value the robust and level playing field of free speech.

[2:12] But surely, someone with such profoundly thin skin as Anita, feeling that she is entitled that society treat her in a privileged fashion—at least compared to everyone else—would at least treat others as she expects to be treated. Right? After all, she does spend a lot of time composing her tweets:

[2:33] Sarkeesian: “Sometimes I feel this double-edged sword because I’m very careful about what I say. I’m very careful about—I spend hours trying to compose a tweet.”

[2:41] Thunderf00t: Nah, for Anita, she was quite happy to say this about the formidable Christopher Hitchens about two days after he died. Yeah. Smearing a man who’s been dead for only about two days by calling him “a racist, a sexist, and a warmonger” (femfreq).

[2:58] But that wouldn’t be ‘harassment’ now, would it Anita? Oh, but if someone points out that you lied through your teeth in your video series—oh, that’s outrageous criti—sorry—that’s outrageous harassment! But oh if someone blames feminist actions for a feminist’s PR problem—that’s gotta be hatred of women. That’s gotta be misogyny.

[3:20] Got news for you, Anita. Hitchens will achieve more dead than you will ever achieve by being alive.

[3:27] Christopher Hitchens: “If you want to get good people to do wicked things, you need religion. What do I mean by that? I mean to say that, who, when they see a newborn baby arriving in their life—if anyone’s ever thought, even myself, ‘Well, maybe there is something to this. Look at the perfection of this little bundle . . . but they say, ‘I tell you what though, before we go any further we need to get a sharp knife or a stern from somewhere and start hacking away at the genitalia of this little bundle; because if we don’t, we won’t be doing god’s will. Now, where is—no moral person would do such a thing unless they thought it was divinely warranted.”

[4:03] Hitchens: “Is it not the case that the spread of Christianity—about which you spoke so warmly and affectingly in your opening remarks—attributing it to the innate truth of the Bible’s story was spread by that means, or because the Emperor Constantine decided to make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire? Which in your view contributed more to the spread of the faith?”

Frank Turek: “The Holy spirit.”

Hitchens: “I rest my case.”

[4:31] Thunderf00t: Or blaming ‘toxic masculinity’ and ‘patriarchy’ for a school shooting less than 24-hours after that school shooting.

[4:40] Sarkeesian: “Sometimes I feel this double-edged sword because I’m very careful about what I say. I’m very careful about—I spend hours trying to compose a tweet.”

[4:48] Thunderf00t: That wouldn’t be offensive or harassment, now would it? Yeah, Anita, you might be happy now that Twitter allows people to be offended on other people’s accounts and flag them as such. After all, that is what you and Women, Action & the Media wanted.

[5:05] But damn, you should be careful what you wish for. ‘Cos don’t you know that many people would regard YOUR tweets as ‘harassing’? I mean, don’t ya think that calling someone a racist only two days after they died would be deemed as ‘harassment’ by at least the relatives? And don’t you think that blaming a school shooting on ‘patriarchy’ before the bodies are even cold would be deemed as harassing and offensive by the parents of those children?

[5:38] By your lack of vision, and your lust to be able to control what people are and are not allowed to say, you have been petitioning for the tools of your own demise.

[5:50] And, like I say, even if by some miracle you get Twitter to give you all the privileges that you think that you’re entitled to—you know, like you have on Wikipedia—yeah, not a single word on there about Anita Sarkeesian’s dishonesty. And the fact that her project raised 25 times as much money as it needed:

[6:09] Sarkeesian: “I actually raised 25 times [applause] what I initially asked for.”

[6:18] Thunderf00t: -is now two YEARS overdue, and still hasn’t produced half of the videos that it said it would. Not a mention of these facts on Anita Sarkeesian’s Wiki page.

[6:30] Nah, even if you manage to get Twitter to give you all this special treatment, it will not change the fact that in your own terms, you are just Jack Thompson with boobs—no, I take that back, ‘cos that’s not entirely true. You’re Jack Thompson on steroids, with boobs. ‘Cos not only do they claim that videogames cause violence, Feminist Frequency writer Jonathan McIntosh on Twitter, “Scientific consensus is that playing violent video games increases aggression and aggressive behaviors. Amazing so many people are still in denial” (radicalbytes).

[7:06] Thunderf00t: But they also believe that they cause sexism:

[7:09] “Women as Background Decoration: Part 1”: “In other words, viewing media that frames women as objects or sexual playthings profoundly impacts how real life women are perceived and treated in the world around us.”

[7:18] Thunderf00t: Yeah, Anita. Rich, middle class, white women—the most persecuted class of people in history. And surely, if only you had a penis, then men would take you seriously. Oh no—wait, not they wouldn’t. ‘Cos newsflash, Anita. A bad argument is a bad argument, no matter how many times you tell someone you’re a persecuted woman who finds everything offensive.

[7:44] Hitchens: “If someone tells me that I’ve hurt their feelings, I say, ‘Well I’m still waiting to hear what your point is’. I’m very depressed how in this country you can be told, ‘That’s

offensive!’ as if those two words constitute an argument or a comment. Not to me, they don’t. And I’m not running for anything, so I don’t have to pretend to like people when I don’t.”

[8:05] Thunderf00t: This is why people like me have always argued for the open marketplace of ideas and a robust and level playing field, ‘cos if you can’t convince anyone in an arena like that, then there’s a good chance that you’re talking crap. I guess this is what I’m trying to tell ya:

[8:22] The Avengers: “You’re missing the point—there’s no throne. There is no version of this where you come out on top.”

[8:28] Thunderf00t: But back to the digital ethics. Is this the same Anita Sarkeesian who, if she was judged by her own standards would be blatantly racist and homophobic and transphobic, and even normalizes white supremacy? ‘Whooa’, I hear people say, ‘surely there’s no way you can justify that?’ Actually, using social justice warrior reasoning—or more specifically, feminist reasoning, it’s trivial.

[8:54] You see, you don’t judge work by its content, you judge it by, say, the number of black people in the work. So, when it comes down to the new Star Wars trailer, FullMcIntosh tweets this, and Anita retweets it: “3 faces in the Star Wars trailer are those of a black man, white woman, and Latino man piloting an X-Wing. That matters more than you may think” (radicalbytes) and, “Let’s take time to consider that the first trailer for the biggest most anticipated movie of the decade features zero white dudes” (radicalbytes).

[9:27] Thunderf00t: Now, for me, I really didn’t care about the gender profile of the film. I just sat there scratching my head like, ‘Hang on. Aren’t all the stormtroopers meant to be clones of Jango Fett?’

[9:37] Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones: “Your clones are very impressive. You must be very proud.”

[9:40] Thunderf00t: So, w-why is the stromtrooper black? And why is this woman so small that she can ride on RoboCop 2’s shoulder cannon? And then FullMcIntosh thinks that this guy is a Latino and not some white dude. Personally, I’m surprised that they didn’t tweet how the only woman in the trailer was wearing Islamic-type garb and was therefore promoting the idea that women must cover up their faces to avoid being raped or something.

[10:07] Nah, for me, I found the spoof trailers ripping one Abram’s use of lens flare and the, ‘it’s a new Star Wars movie means you gotta have a new novelty light saber type stuff’, far more relevant, and far more entertaining. Yeah, I know, Anita. Come on, tell us how Abrams’ friends and supporters should be able to flag ALL of this media as ‘harassing Abrams’.

[10:30] But whatever. You get the point. In social justice warrior terms, you judge if a work is sexist or racist by the number of minorities in it.

[10:39] Let’s look at Anita Sarkeeian’s ONLY creation. You know, the proposed videogame which is gonna show us how to free ourselves from the stereotypes, clichés, and tropes in computer games by essentially a verbatim retelling of Prince of Persia: “The player must lead the game protagonist out of the dungeon and into a tower. Doing so requires bypassing traps and fighting hostile swordsman” (

[11:07] Apart from it’s a woman in the leading role—which is totally not a man with boobs trope—‘cos, you know it’s only a sexist trope when men do it. Yeah. Let’s see. ‘No black people, not even a stereotypical person of color, let alone one which is a very interesting character that’s NOT beholden to stereotypes. Therefore, RACISM.’

[11:28] And for those who think that’s harsh, let’s check out Anita’s criticism of “True Blood”:

[11:33] “Beyond True Blood’s Sensationalism”: “-no other black men and no other queer men on the main cast. So, he’s really all we get in terms of alternative sexuality and as far as black male masculinity.”

“We see Lafayette working in the kitchen of Merlotte’s but on the side he’s also a prostitute, and he runs his own porn website, and he’s a drug dealer. I mean, really, could there be any other stereotypes thrown in here?”

“He is every stereotype about black queer men all rolled into one pretty package and it constantly infuriates me because we don’t want to reinforce these stereotypes. We want to dispel them and break them down and make very interesting complicated textured characters that are beyond stereotypes—but NO. True Blood can’t do that.”

[12:20] Thunderf00t: ‘Let’s see, no gay people. Check. Homophobic. No trans-people. Check. Transphobic. Only white people in the entire game. Check. Normalizing white supremacy.’

[12:35] Now, I wonder if FullMcIntosh will tweet about this outrageous racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, in this game concept? I mean, he was quite happy to break down a one minute or so trailer with only three people in it along ethnic and gender lines. I wonder if he’ll do the same with Anita’s game concept? Which, apart from the man-with-boobs lead role, ALL of the characters are white dudes.

[13:02] ‘Yes, this regressive, all-white casting must stop. We need righteous people like McIntosh to lead us in condemning writers of this white supremacist crap. People like Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathan McIntosh’. Oh.

[13:22] But let’s keep going. Let’s see. ‘Promotes violence against men. Check. Man-hating and promoting domestic violence. Normalizes the concept that the only way to deal with men, is through violence, institutionalizing feminist supremacy theory’. Oh, and of course, let’s give it the Bechdel test:

[13:44] “The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies”: “The Bechdel test, or the Mo Movie Measure, is a type of litmus test to assess the presence of women in movies.”

“When I call it a systemic problem, what I mean by this is that it’s not just a few people here and there that don’t like women, or don’t want women’s stories told, but rather that the entire industry is built upon creating films and movies that cater to and that are about men.”

“Next time you go to the movies, just ask yourself these few questions: are there two or more women in it, and do they have names? Do they talk to each other? And do they talk to each other about something other than a man?”

[14:18] Thunderf00t: Yes, Anita’s game concept would fail EVERY SINGLE element of the Bechdel test, a test which notably films like The Bikini Carwash Company would pass with flying colors.

[14:31] And yes, this is the same, um, ‘test’ which Sweden has decided to introduce as a film rating in a bid for gender equality ( ‘Cos, you know, where there was a load more films like the Bikini Carwash Company that would sure be one hell of a step toward gender equality.

[14:50] But let’s see, ‘The lead character is neither fat, or disabled. Well, that’s fat-shaming and ableism! Has she no empathy for the special snowflakes on Tumblr with headmates and otherkin?’

[15:04] ‘The lead character is not a dribbling retard, programming the audience through media exposure that dribbling retards cannot, say, break out of jail and achieve things. Dribble-shaming! And retardaphobia.’

[15:19] ‘The main character is heteronormatively beautiful, a purposeful effort to institute game mechanics that undermine the confidence of ugly women. And this is done exclusively to promote and maintain the, uh, privileges that this girls’ club of normatively beautiful women think that they’re entitled to.’

[15:40] Thunderf00t: And what’s with the giant eye-to-head ratio? Did Anita sit there and say, ‘No, I don’t want the women in this game to look like adults. We need to pedomorphize them to give them this really big eye-to-head ratio because we need to normalize and institutionalize pedomorphic sexualization of women in this game while simultaneously portraying the men with appropriate adult proportions, implicitly encouraging the ageist and discriminatory concepts that young, beautiful women are more sexually valuable then old, wrinkly, ugly ones.’

[16:15] ‘And let’s be real, this whole game from start to finish is just one superficial excuse to indulge in armor porn. The lead character is wealthy, normalizing the narrative that rich people can do whatever they want without consequences. And seriously, what message is this game sending our children? That all you need to do to become a rich, happy, white woman is violently assault and kill a load of men. Is that not the narrative that this videogame is promoting? Have you not read this book about how games become reality and influence our behavior? Should

we not prosecute these people for the murders that they are responsible for? Or at least prevent them from spreading this narrative of hate speech at a minimum. Should we not institute structural reform that will prevent them from proposing these hateful things?’

[17:13] Sarkeesian: “And creating structural change means people have to follow those structures.”

[17:16] Thunderf00t: ‘‘Cos once we’ve ejected these sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, fat-shaming, retard-shaming, dribble-shaming, white supremacist bigots—then we can finally have an open and more FREE form of gaming, a more INCLUSIVE gaming community where finally, once and for all, no one will EVER be offended.

[17:41] Hitchens: “If someone tells me that I’ve hurt their feelings, I say, ‘Well, I’m still waiting to hear what your point is.’”

“I’m very depressed how in this country you can be told, ‘That’s offensive!’ as if those two words constitute an argument or a comment. Not to me, they don’t. And I’m not running for anything, so I don’t have to pretend to like people when I don’t.”

$10 000 dollars to encourage rational video makers! Your help needed.

January 4, 2013

We recently had David Silverman on The Magic Sandwich show, and I agree completely with him that above all, the conference scene should be FUN!

Fun like this!

I have great memories of our group singing of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ at the end of that conference!  Telling ya, we have GOT to adopt that as our anthem!

Kinda difficult to have fun like that with the killjoy PC police telling you ‘your tshirt is too offensive‘ or ‘creates a sexualized environmental‘ or that  ‘fake jewelry is against the conference code‘.

We are responsible adults thank you, and do not need to be treated like children!


…..anyway, I digress.  However much fun conferences might be, they are effectively still a side show compared to the potential reach of the internet.  Lets keep it real: the internet is a place where religions come to die!

-New media is a game changer in a way that conferences never were, and likely never will be!

In this sense, I see it as vital that we maintain a strong internet presence on viral media.  Regrettably the secular/ rationalist community has a problem on youtube at the moment.  Established players have been slowly drifting away, and because the barriers to entry are so high, there are not being replaced!  To be honest, this is to me a far bigger issue than pretty much anything that is happening on the conference scene.

The way I see it we want people making good videos on a semi-regular basis.  But how to encourage this?

Well I actually care about this a lot!, and so I am going to put basically all of the donations I received from last year into a fund to encourage this ($10 000).

So how best to do this?  Well this is where I want your help, for many minds are better than one, and I have essentially no experience at doing this sort of thing.

So far my rough ideas looks like this:

The first thing is of course, while I will supply the prize money, I should detach myself from the judging.  So far Eugenie Scott, Elisabeth Cornwell and ZOMGitscriss have suggested that they would be willing to help out with the judging.  If you have any other names you would like to suggest, please leave them below.

I was thinking about three categories:

1) Merit grants.  This is basically giving money to established people who have contributed much for little reward.  Its just a small way for the community to say thank you for all you’ve done! I also think this would create a lot of good will among our established video makers.

2) Equipment grants.  This is for folks are happy to spend their time making videos, but think that its a bit much to have to spend their own money to make videos for other people to watch for free.  The solution is simple, buy them what they need, HD webcam, microphone, green-screen, etc. and everybody wins!

3) A video competition.  Youtube is becoming an increasingly competitive attention economy, and what is really needed is people who are making competativley good media on a semi-regular basis.  So I suggest that people get to submit their three best videos made over a period of 3 months with the winners taking home cash prizes, and getting their work featured on my channel etc.  We do our best as a community to bring new blood in that are making good videos on a semi-regular videos.

So what do you think?  Good ideas? How best to partition up the prize money?

That is, if you had $10 000 dollars to spend to invigorate the secular presence on youtube, how would you spend it?

RE: Youtube starts banning ‘religiously offensive’ videos

February 27, 2012

   To be honest when I first got the take down notices, about 6 of them in an hour or so (4 content inappropriate with no chance of appeal, and two privacy complaints) I thought,

‘another harassing and minor annoyance in running the channel.  A quick email to YT should sort it out.’

   I was then simply stunned when youtube claimed these videos had been reviewed by professional and impartial moderators and were removed for either hate speech or privacy violation.  The more so as some of these videos constituted some of the milder things I’ve said about religion.  The bottom line was, if this really was the new bar for hate speech, not only would it in an instant render the Thunderf00t channel unviable, it would render virtually every rationalist channel unviable.  Youtubes actions were simply unintelligible.  Indeed if someone had told me these were youtube actions, I simply wouldn’t have believed them.  But there were the words on the screen in black and white.

   I had no option but to make the video “Youtube starts banning ‘religiously offensive’ videos“.  There were simply no other alternatives.  A fairly high stakes game given that youtube could easily have said my action violated the terms of service and just killed the account.  But then again, if the words I had in black and white on the screen were correct, then channel was already dead, and the only thing left to do was give a good accounting of itself before the inevitable banhammer.

    By coincidence this happened about one week after the Hamza Kashgari incident.

Kashgari made about 3 vanilla tweets mildly critical of Islam only to find himself in fear for his life.  He fled Saudi, only to be arrested in Malaysia.  There he was deported back to Saudi with no due process to face a potential death sentence over three tweets.  That’s fucked up beyond ALL recognition.  But it really underscores the problem that religions find arbitrary things offensive.  Given this simple observation, having a clause in the Terms of Service about not offending religions is simply incoherent.

   If youtube really is willing to give religion this latitude of freedom, and to further scale what they consider ‘hate speech’ by how offended people are, then youtube would inevitably find itself in thrall to the Imams.  Many of them find anything that is not Islam offensive beyond comprehension, as was demonstrated by the Imam crying over the three tweets of Kashgari calling them ‘the worst thing he’d ever read’.

   So it was that I wrote potentially my last email to youtube asking them to apply whatever policy they had uniformly, which, taking ‘The Best emotional PORN‘ as the benchmark, would mean either about 7/10 of my videos would be hate speech, and they should delete them and ban my account, or reinstate the videos (which are vanilla compared to some of the videos on my channel).

The BEST emotional PORN, the new bar for ‘hate speech’,  Really?

   Thankfully, some 48 hrs later, with over 17000 thumbs up, well over a thousand mirrors and ~160k hits Youtube had a change of heart over what constituted hate speech.

   Now I have mixed feelings about this.  The Churchill quote about ‘The United States will always do the right thing…. once all other options have been exhausted’ kept coming to mind.

   Sure Youtube had done the right thing, and had the humility and plasticity to correct their previous mistake (a fairly honorable and humble act), but only once all other options had been exhausted.  You then look at what other options youtube had on the table (banhammer, ignore or stick to original judgment), and this is BY FAR the most dignified thing they could have done.

   So all things considered, I think this is as happy an outcome as could have been hoped for.  For the strong response of the community (and yes, it was the communal action that made this possible, for I as an individual had tried to take this to a sensible resolution and failed (I have the gut feeling it was not my email that swung the balance here)) ensured that free speech is maintained on this forum.

Many Thanks to all who made this outcome possible!

Stagnation on youtube

November 11, 2011

A brief intro:

This time a decade ago, no one had even heard of youtube, nor did the bandwidth really exist for the project.  The emergence of Youtube was unforeseen by, well lets be real, everyone.  Microsoft was left standing, as was Google.  The access of users to cheap video editing equipment, and further simultaneously given access to the vast array of various uploaded media clips led to an explosion of creativity.

     However as time progressed, expectedly those who did well acquired a disproportionate amount of the traffic.  Now, I don’t have the figures, but a comparative handful of users provide the significant lions share of the traffic.  This has had two detrimental effects on youtube.

1)      The forum has lost a significant portion of its vibrancy, in that it used to be that you could come back to youtube in a week or twos time and everything would be different.  This is not true anymore.  You come back in months time and it’s pretty much the exact same people doing exactly the same thing.  It’s no longer really youtube, but the ‘same old-same old’tube.

2)      The barriers to entry are now essentially prohibitively high.  As a few get a large amount of the traffic, the barriers to entry are huge compared to what they were when youtube was relatively a flat and fair forum.  Indeed almost the only way to now establish yourself on youtube is with the help of someone who is already established, or to have an existing audience for whom you start making videos, or to simply have a truck full of cash to throw at the problem.

    So is there a solution to this?  Is there a way that youtube can regain it’s vibrancy?  Well that’s where many minds are better than one and I ask for your take on this.

    The following is my suggestion:  One way to do this which is arguably dead before it starts is by biasing the YT search algorithms against established players.  Now YT will not want to do that on several levels.  Firstly ‘established players’ are the ‘cash cows’, they are the ‘known commodities’ that people come to youtube for.  Secondly of course, those partner would be pretty unhappy having put all that work into establishing a channel merely for YT to come along and decide ‘bad luck fellas, but YT needs more variety’.   It would also send a lousy message about the relationship between media producers and youtube.  Finally of course, who is likely to fill this gap?  Lamentably imitation is easier than innovation and for every youtube ‘celebrity’ there are probably 10 wannabe clones.  Even if youtube were to tweak its search engine, would it really help?

     Maybe a more viable alternative is to create a second ‘pool’ of users.  A ‘youtube hatchery’ so to speak that allows small channels to grow free of the competition of the bigger players (a different front page).  Limit the hatchery to users with less than 10k subscribers or so, and have a separate front page for them.  The environment would allow people to establish themselves on a smaller forum before competing in the full YT forum where currently they get almost no attention.

     Other than that, it looks to me like youtube has matured and hardened into its adult form, never to see significant changes again, or if it does, it will be more akin to glacial speeds!

Thunderf00t vs The Mountain Lion

August 13, 2011

The sun was fully down and the full moon just risen (12 Aug 2011) when I was up by the tripod some 10 meters from the car.  The camera was running a timelapse near dusk, but the battery was low so I was just changing it.   It was there that I heard a  twig break nearby on the far side of the clearing. Instantly that was out of the ordinary, and got my attention REAL fast. I can hear nothing else, and that makes me even more nervous:- no creature ambling through the brush, the night hunters are at work. I have no torch on me, and no weapon (normally I carry both a torch and a big ass knife, which in the event of you not being killed outright is enough to put some pretty respectable sized holes in a cat). But I have neither. I have the camera, and now that I think about it, I should have grabbed the tripod too, but I didn’t. Keeping myself fixed towards where the sound was I made my way cautiously back to the car, brandishing the 2000 dollar camera n lens as just a big metal lump (strange how the value of objects can be changed by merely the snapping of a twig in a clearing on a  quiet night up). On getting back to the car, I quickly rummaged around and got a knife, and flashlight. I panned it around the clearing to see two bright green sapphire eyes looking back at me from behind a log. It had come up on me from where I first heard it on the far side of the clearing. It could only have been about 10 meters. Then behind it I saw a second pair of eyes, as green as the first, but smaller, and further off. Green eyes are cats eyes, and from the separation and the distance I could tell this was a big cat. After watching me for a few seconds I saw it turn off into the trees. I didn’t like that at all: all the time I could see it, I knew what the score was. A big cat out of sight, thats more of a worry.
I fumbled around for a video camera, but by that time they eyes had gone and again I was ‘alone in the quiet’. After that I was reluctant to leave the car. Mountain lions are ambush hunters, and the car was awkwardly positioned such that getting out was ‘vunerable’. I slept the night away, and in the morning went looking for tracks. Turns out there was a deer path that went along side the opening, and sure enough, there were mountain lion tracks there, further they tracked up towards the tripod.

Wednesday 20th July 2011, Ray Comfort, Round 2!

July 22, 2011

Wednesday 20th July 2011, The Ray Comfort Interview.

I guess of forgot to say that prior to heading up towards Mnt Wilson, I capped off a couple of emails, the first to Eugenie Scott, the second to Ray Comfort.  In the morning I was awakened early by a National Forest Ranger tapping on my window.  The first thought when this happens is of course ‘here we go!’.  I was just pulled in a large siding overlooking LA and there was by this time quite a lot of traffic on the road.  Turns out he was just giving me a heads up that if I wanted to do this sort of thing, that I needed a permit from the rangers station for ‘bird watching’ or something.  Either way I think he was just checking me out to see what sort of bum I was, and when it became clear this wasn’t a permanenty-type thing, that he would just let me go on my way.

View of LA coming down from Mnt Wislon

View of LA coming down from Mnt Wislon

Headed down to the nearest Starbux the GPS could find and to see what was going on.  Turns out Ray was interested, and whats more was interested in doing something ASAP.  Part of me ground my teeth at the prospect of driving across LA again, but thems are the breaks.  So almost no sooner had I arrived was I packing up again.  The drive across LA was probably easier in the busy morning than in the quieter dark.  Being able to see things I think helps a lot.  Not sure what time I met up with Ray, as I’ve lost my watch, and when I told Ray about this, he promptly undid his watch and gave it to me.  A very kind gesture to be sure, and the intent was clear.  Unfortunately when I get a watch, a barometer is probably going to be the primary feature.  I can tell quite well how many hours of light there are left in the day just by looking.  I have no such equal intuition about altitude (important if you are in the mountains).   We got some chairs and headed out into the car lot, and had about a 45 min discussion on morality.  We then headed back inside and I spent the next hour or so unsuccessfully trying to synchronize the files with one of the guys from Ray ministry.  During that time we had quite a long chat on ‘prepositional apologetics’.   I gave the obvious answer, which is, if you need to presuppose ANYTHING, then you can’t say for certain if anything is absolutely certain.  We then had lunch, and the conversation of lunch was probably more throughtful than the earlier discussion we had.  After lunch it was back to battling with the computers.  Eventually we got things working and I said my goodbyes and was out shortly before 2ish.  Driving across town was a miserable burden, made worse by the fact that I was feeling terribly fatigued.  Couldn’t figure out why though till I made it back to the starbux and saw myself in the mirror.  For the 40 min discussion with Ray, my pasty limey form had been under full sunlight`  I was mildly sunburned over virtually all my exposed skin, and this was doubtless related to my fatigue and headache.  I put my feet up and went to sleep for about an hour in the car, and woke up feeling much refreshed.  After that I had choices to make.  Mr Deity is in the coast area, and I tried a couple of times (unsuccessively) to contact him.  Decided to head up the coast towards San Francisco, hopefully to bump into Eugenie Scott enroute.  There was also the couple (L n H) who had put me up in Las Vegas, and I was meant to drop by and say ‘Hi’ to, but by this time I was a spent force, and was just looking for somewhere quiet to spend the night.  Headed out to the NW of LA and found a place just short of Filmore and just pulled over into a quiet and secluded siding and went to sleep.


Potassium explodes without Hydrogens help

June 20, 2011

Thus far almost all the stuff I’ve done on the alkali metals has been on ~250 mg quantities.

Self preservation says, “Start Small!”, and with good reason, the reactions of alkali metals with water are known to scale in treacherous fashions.

In the first instance I went for 1.6 g of potassium and 3.5g of sodium.

Note here there is not the slightest hint of green gas with the potassium!

Now the potassiums the one I’m going to focus on for the moment, simply as when this is played back at about 1/100ths speed it becomes clear that the hydrogen burning plays essentially no part in the violence of this reaction.

Fascinatingly the explosion appears to go in two stages here!

So potassium, molecular weight ~40, so 1.6 g is 0.04moles. 2moles of potassium gives a mole of H2 , so this reaction will produce about half a liter of hydrogen.  Just for scale the jug is about 3 liters.  It’s also fascinating to see the ‘springiness’ around this generated gas.

Why is Potassium gas Green?

June 18, 2011

So my interest was really spiked here when I found that when reacting with water, potassium gives off a green gas!

While the green of potassium gas has been known about for over a century, being found in Encyclopedia Britianica articles as far back as 1911, the origin of that green color is proving a little more elusive.

If you know what you are doing it’s relatively easy to observe.  250 mg of potassium is ‘the right’ scale to work with.  Much smaller and it’s all over before you get a chance to do anything, much bigger and you run into problems with the metal exploding, or the hazards of hydrogen build-up.  All you need is a heavy glass vessel of about the dimensions of a wine glass.  Insert a burning acetone taper through a small hole in the top of the vessel and to burn out all the oxygen, and then drop in your potassium.  The green color is easily visible.

I’m tempted to propose it’s due to the solvated electron, which is a hot research topic at the moment as it’s part of the principal mechanism by which radiation damage happens to DNA.  It’s known to be stable and blue in liquid ammonia, but survives only picosecond in water.

A bead of Sodium Potassium alloy in anhydrous liquid ammonia. The blue colouration is due to the presence of solvated electrons

It’s an interesting suggestion, but I think the observation that you get the green color when there is no water around pretty much kills this idea.

So how do you get a green gas.  Well the only other metallic gaseous vapor I’ve seen was mercury which I once boiled to test the calibration on a thermocouple.  That has no color at all that I can remember.

Well as you will recall virtually all the gases are colorless, e.g. all the Noble gases (helium, argon etc) and all the first period gases (nitrogen, oxygen, and mostly fluorine).  However the heavier halogens have colored vapors that get more heavily colored as you go down the group.  Chlorine, light green, bromine, brown etc.

Chlorine (left) and bromine (right).

The reason these gases have these colors is the same reason the sky is blue, Rayleigh scattering.  That’s related to the polarizability of the molecule.  This is a very different mechanism from the electronic transitions that give the classical flame colors of the alkali metals!

It’s well known that all the alkali metals have stable bound states as diatomic molecules, similar in electronic configuration to hydrogen.  IF K2 had a similar polarizability to Cl2, it may well be green like chlorine!  Regrettably finding the polarizability K2 is not as easy as it sounds.  A significant difference between H2 and K2 is the bond energy.  H2 has a bond energy of about 400kJ/mol, while K2 has a bond energy of ~50kJ/mol.  For reference, the hydrogen bond, the thing that holds water together as a liquid, has a bond energy of ~20kJ/mol.  If you heat any bound state and eventually the species will gain enough energy to separate and become individual species.  With water this happens at about 100 oC (boiling, ~400 K).  For hydrogen it’s about 3000 K.  You can actually do the real calculations, it’s just I’m too lazy at the moment, and so I’m just going to do a linear extrapolation between these two.  That gives K2 breaking up at about 2-300 oC.

Well that would fit nicely with green gas being evolved at lower temperature, but as the temperature rises, the diatomic species break up, and the relevant polarizability of the molecule, and hence the Rayleigh scattering, and hence the color is lost.

Great, so if this is a working hypothesis, then the diatomic metals should match their corresponding halogen right?  The bummer is sodium.  Sodium gives off a blue vapor when it boils.  Fluorine is almost colorless.  ARSE!

The game is not over yet!

I’ve decided I need to see sodium vapor for myself, but how to do it with only the junk I have to hand!  What I really need is a nice small sealed silica tube that can take temperatures over a thousand degrees C.  Hmmmm, thinking, thinking…..