The century trilogy – or how to walk through the 20th century being good

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So. Well. Being serious about this, I am trying to pick up writing about some of the stuff I do and read. Well. Read for certain values of read.

Let’s put this behind first – I didn’t actually read the century trilogy, I listened to the audio book. I do that a lot, these days. When your way to work doubles, all of a sudden, you have to find a way to spend your time.

And a way to still enjoy books.

Go figure.

So, I picked up the century trilogy by Ken Follett. Or, more precisely, I made my parents give them to me for christmas. It worked, and off I was.

Why I wanted to read it in the first place?

I guess it was kind of twofold. First, I do have a soft spot for historical novels. Hang on. Scratch that. I do have a soft spot for well researched historical novels. Think Kazuo Ishiguro, Robert Harris (yeah. I know. Very different people). Not Iny Lorentz.

Second reason – those who know me better know I’m a sucker for good lines, and I simply adored the “Fall of the giants” title for the first of the books (and even more the german one which is “Sturz der Titanen”, actually translating as “Fall of the titans”), which is such a poignant description that kind of sums everthing up that made the first world war the end of an era.

But I digress.

From here on, there be spoilers.

The content

The ambition of the century trilogy is to give a sort of kaleidoscope of the main shifts and changes of the 20th century as seen through the eyes of five interlinked families. The three books “Fall of the Titans”, “Winter of the world” and “Edge of Eternity” (which in german carries the completely different title translating as “children of freedom”) cover the ground of the first world war, second world war and times between the end of the second world war and the fall of the Berlin Wall respectively. By choosing two families from Wales (one noble, one common), one from Germany/Austria, one from Russia and one from the USA, and having them intermarry, emigrate and immigrate, meet additional people to be brought into the family tree, bringing in their own connections and meet time and again throughout the turns of the century, Follett manages to cover a lot of ground with respect to historical events. The focus is clearly on Europe and the US, other parts of the world are barely skimmed, and only in framework of how it affected Europe or US.

All families are, to some extent, political or at least ambitions, which allows them to move close to the key events of the century, be it Verdun, the Russian Revolution or the murder of JFK.

Indeed, that’s what can be said of the plot, for there is no real plot as such. History provides the narrative and the greater framework of things, and the voyage of the characters is, more or less, the voyage of history.

The composition

Here, I’d first and foremost have to applaud the composition as such. This is really well done. The way the families are set up and intermingled does feel natural, also the way of how they occasionally meet here and there and get, everyone in their own way, involved into the chief events of the century.

Follett places his people really well, taking into account the social and political frameworks of the respective countries and this allows them to move with the flow of history, showing the occurrences through the eyes of his protagonists.

The composition of the text should also to be applauded. Changing viewpoints so drastically throughout the novel takes some careful composing, and Follett did well at composing the story such, that he stuck long enough with one viewpoint to draw the reader (or listener…) in, while switching often enough to allow the reader to keep a good connection to all the characters and their respective situations. He managed time, narrative and development well on a global scale.

The story itself was gripping – although I can’t quite pinpoint what made it so – and I enjoyed the books on a global scale.

The history

It feels well researched. I say that at a second glance.

I felt a bit bugged at the shallowness of it during the “Fall of the Giants”, but that was until I realized that in parallel, I am (at glacial speed) reading Christopher Clarke’s “Sleepwalkers”, which, in its essence, is of course a history book, not a novel, and the comparison is truly unfair. Once I realized that, I could better appreciate the work Follett had done on getting his historical facts and figures in order, which is globally very well done. It does seem biased some times (and has received quite some criticism in that respect) – after reading this book there’s no mistake whatsoever on Follet’s political views – but that is something that is excusable in my book. It is a novel, not a history book, and thus entitled to author’s opinion. He’s not writing the next “sleepwalkers” (ok, he was earlier, I think). He’s writing a story. And for that, it seems fine.

I do know that the actual historical facts are not always completely correctly displayed… but to me that didn’t really take away from the narrative. Probably mostly because I didn’t nerd enough to actually do my research there.

The style is flowing, easy going and well to understand even in the morning over a cup of tea on the way to work, it’s flowing easily and naturally, although I could have done with a little more poetry.

The narrative

I’m a bit at loss what to write here, because there… isn’t really any. The purpose of the book is to give Follett’s view of 20th century history through the eyes of a set of well selected protagonists. The personal stories and lives of the protagonists evolve in parallel, but there is no underlying plot, no family story to which the history proves the background narrative.

Indeed, it is a sequence of scenarios, with the clear goal of placing a character into this or that historical situation, and the character and its development will follow.

I suppose that is what Follett intended. It doesn’t add up to that much tension, obviously, on the other hand, the history of the century itself is gripping enough to keep going.

The characters

Now, that’s the biggest can of worms.

When it comes to characters, there’s light and shadow (more shadow than light, I’m afraid….).
The characters were good when they were nuanced and felt realistic, worked within their time and were nuanced in their motives.

I did like Ethel Williams, who, to me, showed the right mixture of sass and roots in the time she was living in, playing the system best that she could. The moment where she bargains with Fitzwilliam is indeed one of the (lamentably few) great character moments of the book.

Same for Grigory Peshkov, who, all things considered, feels like a quite well-rounded character to me. He’s moral and good, but not to the sticky-sweet point of some of the other characters, and he’s more of an involuntary hero than anything else.

Jasper Murray was another good example, a man of, say, gray morals, ultimately selfish but with bouts of decency streaked in.

I could have done with a few more characters like that…

Reading the century trilogy, I had a revelation. I have read both the highly lauded “pillars of the world” and “World without end” by the same author, and it never really stuck with me. The history was interesting, the narrative okay, but somehow I didn’t feel as dragged into the story as I usually expect to be. At that point I couldn’t really pinpoint it, but now, indeed, I can.

Many of the characters feel anachronistic.

Don’t get me wrong. I like a good feminist story, and yes, I clearly am a sucker for strong female roles in a narrative. But in a book that does put some emphasis of historical correctness, or at least Follett’s view on history, the characters are too modern for my taste. And unlike historical inaccuracies in a narrative itself, that one really bothers me.

Yes, give me souffragettes, give me rebels. Give me visionaries male and female alike, give me people that see beyound what people of their time would. But let them be rooted in their time. You don’t make them great by just ignoring the obstacle, you make them great by letting them outgrow the obstacles. In this narrative, we usually don’t see the people overcome the obstacle. Like, out of their own. So very often circumstances remove the obstacles for them. That doesn’t make up for much of a sympathetic tale.

I missed that. Like, a lot.

I cannot help comparing Maude, the Welsh noble daughter and Souffragette to Sybil, Mary or Lady Isobel of Downton Abbey (only to give a few examples where I thought it was much better done), and the comparison isn’t favourable. All of them are feminist figures, in a way, but Sybil or Isobel feel much more rooted in their time for me (although – yes. Historical accuracy of Downton Abbey is also a thing of debate). They stretch the boundaries of the given, each in their own way, but they don’t ignore them as in Follett’s narrative more often than not they do. To be fair, Maude became much more realistic in “Winter of the World”, when she was in Germany.

Also, on a similar note, all of the characters that Ken Follett devised as (morally) good seem to be gifted with the strange gift of foresight. Or they all have a magic cristal balls in their drawing room. All of them did see the problems of a particular situation coming early on, and of course in line with history that would prove them right.

This is most striking in the russian part of the narrative, where I simply cannot conceive how this relatively open-minded, reform-oriented, humanist family, who rose close to the ranks of power in Russia, could have survived in Stalinist Russia is completely beyound me. I do get it – to some extent – for the Chruschtschow era, but Stalin? Really? Also, we never learn how they – especially Wolodja – actually rose to power, except for the laurels of the father, who did indeed do courageous things in the russian revolution. That’s kind of grating because he and his son go against the system quite often; but we never see them actually working for the system. Probably because Follett wanted to spare his good characters the seedier details of Stalinist Russia, but that feels kind of cheap.

The “good” characters are often extremely good. Saints, almost. At least in parts. George Jakes is probably the most annoying one of the lot (by a mile actually). Seriously – the arc is interesting in itself because I didn’t know so much about the freedom ride and corresponding events, but the character is moral and good almost to the point of stupidity. Gah. Boring.

In contrast to this, all characters not perceived as “good” usually get payback one way or the other, by getting caught up in one of the many scandals of the century (Cam Dewar), find an early death (Boy Fitzherbert) or end up lonely one way or the other (Lord Fitzherbert, Lev Peshkov).

A few escape that fate by way of redemption (Daisy Peshkov, chiefly, to some extent also Cam Dewar), but generally, there’s a lot of karma of the “you get what you deserve” variety inside that book.

And that felt too black and white for me.

A word on politics

The century trilogy is not only a historical novel, it does give a (quite left leaning) political view on the turns of the century. Now that in itself is absolutely not a bad thing, but even to me who is in morals and views, I think, quite close to Follett’s it felt… grating. I don’t like that being slammed into my face with the subtlety of a sledge hammer over the course of three books, thank you very much.

It’s totally fair to sprout your political views into a novel you are writing. That’s what part of being an author means. An author isn’t a journalist, a novel isn’t an article, it’s not even a commentary. It is a story of the author’s making, and if he choses to assign it to a certain policy, that is all good and well. If that’s what he has to say, that’s what he should say.

I just take the right, if it feels that unbiased and blatant, to be personally a little bored and annoyed by it.

Strange, actually, because most of the things he probably considers correct (or highlights as correct) in the narrative, I could agree to, but the simple brute force of hammering his point home is quite enough to get me off balance.

A summary of the above

Not too bad, not too glorious. I find myself basing my judgment on what the book is supposed to be.

  • As a chronicle of the 20th century it is globally a good book

  • As a family history, it can stand as well

  • As a story with believable characters telling the narrative of protagonists, I am afraid, it is not quite up to what I would like…

Call the doctor – mind control is on

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Call the doctor! Mind control is on.

Gedankenkontrolle mit Skalarwellen.

(scroll down for english version)

So schnell kanns gehen, und schon findet sich das nächste interessante Aluhut-Geschwurbel auf meinem Schreibtisch.

Heute auf der Speisekarte – Skalarwellen und Gedankenkontrolle.

Wenn man sich durch die finstereren Seiten des Internets klickt findet man da eine Menge beunruhigender Sachen. Skalarwellen, erzeugt durch Handys und elektronische Gerätschaften, die dazu verwendet werden, unsere Gedanken und unser Verhalten zu kontrollieren.

Eine schnelle Google-Suche bringt eine Menge dieser Quellen zutage – nehmt diese hier mal als eine von vielen, ich bin sicher, mit ein bisschen Enthusiasmus finden sich noch ein paar mehr.

Also schauen wir uns das ganze doch mal an.

Konzentration bitte – das hier wird dauern…

Zunächst und zuvorderst mal:

Was sind Skalarwellen?

Der obere Artikel schweigt sich über den direkten Sachbezug aus, was mit den ominösen Skalarwellen gemeint ist, aber da die obige Quelle sich auf Nicola Tesla bezieht, führt eine kurze Recherche relativ schnell zu den Theorien von Professor Konstantin Meyl, der an der Fachhochschule Furtwangen im Fachbereich Elektrotechnik lehrt.

Hier werden als Skalarwellen Wellen bezeichnet, die im Gegensatz zu normalen elektromagnetischen Wellen keine transversalen, sondern vielmehr rein elektrische (ohne den Magnetismus) longitudinale Wellen sind.

Wir befinden uns also im Bereich der Elektrotechnik. Mein Lieblingsthema. Super. Fand ich schon im Studium ganz toll.

Na gut. Es hilft ja nix. Fangen wir an.

Und zwar hiermit:

Was sind longitudinale und transversale Wellen?

Wellen können grundsätzlich in zwei verschiedene Typen eingeteilt werden.

Die Ausbreitungsgeschwindigkeit ist die Richtung, in die sich eine Welle bewegt.

Die Schwingungsrichtung ist die Richtung, in der sich die periodische Bewegung, die eine Welle ausmacht, bewegt.

Bei einer Welle, die sich auf einen Strand aufläuft, ist die Ausbreitungsrichtung also „Richtung Strand“, während die Schwingungsrichtung „senkrecht zur Wasseroberfläche ist“.

Longitudinalwellen sind Wellen, bei denen die Schwingungsrichtung parallel zur Ausbreitungsrichtung verläuft:

300px-podelna_vlna

(Quelle: Wikipedia)

Ein Beispiel ist hier die Ausbreitung von Schall in Luft.

Transversalwellen sind Wellen, bei denen die Schwingungsrichtung senkrecht zur Ausbreitung verläuft.

300px-pricna_vlna

(Quelle: Wikipedia)

Um mich hier um die elektromagnetischen Wellen zu drücken, um die es sowieso im Rest des Artikels geht, nenne ich hier mal als Beispiel Wasserwellen in einem stillen See (also ohne Strömung)

Hiermit kommen wir zum nächsten Schritt

Was ist eine elektromagnetische Welle?

Eine elektromagnetische Welle ist eine Welle, die durch eine Schwingung eines elektrischen und dazugehörigen magnetischen Feldes entsteht.

Zu elektromagnetischen Wellen gehören Funk- und Radiowellen ebenso wie zum Beispiel Licht.

In der überwiegenden Zahl der Fälle ist eine elektromagnetische Welle eine reine Transversalwelle (also: Schwingungsrichtung senkrecht zur Ausbreitungsrichtung), bei der elektrisches und magnetisches Feld senkrecht zueinander schwingen.

220px-electromagneticwave3dfromside

(Quelle: Wikipedia)

Elektrisches und magnetisches Feld bedingen einander und rufen einander hervor.

Mathematisch ergibt sich die Beschreibung der elektromagnetischen Wellen aus den Maxwellgleichungen, die in der heutigen Wissenschaft als die fundamentalen Gleichungen der Elektrodynamik bekannt sind.

Detailliertere Betrachtungen der Maxwell-Gleichungen zeigen jedoch, dass die Maxwellgleichungen selbst je nach Rahmenbedingungen durchaus sowohl longitudinale als auch transversale Lösungen erlauben – die allgemein bekannte Beschreibung elektromagnetischer Wellen als reine Transversalwellen ist in der real beobachteten Welt der Normalfall – Longitudinalwellen sind jedoch, bei entsprechender Grundvoraussetzung, auch in den klassischen Maxwellgleichungen nicht verboten.

Das bekannteste Beispiel findet sich in Plasmen, wo eine große Zahl freier Ladungsträger auftritt.

Das ist relativ wichtig, weil hier durchaus schon in der heute bekannten Physik unter sehr bestimmten Umständen die Möglichkeit zu longitudinalen Wellen gegeben ist.

Konstantin Meyl und seine Theorie

Konstantin Meyl wird landläufig als der „Entdecker“ der Skalarwellen bezeichnet.

Der Professor am Fachbereich für Leistungselektronik der Hochschule Furtwangen nimmt für sich in Anspruch, eine neue Formulierung der Grundgleichungen der Elektrodynamik gefunden zu haben, aus der unter anderem die Existenz von Skalarwellen unmittelbar hervor gehe.

Skalarwellen sind nur ein Teil seiner insgesamt ziemlich abgedrehten Theorien, die unter anderem versuchen, eine vollkommene Dualität zwischen elektrischen und magnetischen Feldern herzustellen.

Er behauptet, die Maxwellgleichungen seien nur Spezialfälle der fundamentalen Gleichungen

E=v x B

und

H = v x D

und nimmt diese beiden Gleichungen als Grundlage für alle weiteren Überlegungen.

Aus Skalarwellen zieht er unter anderem die Schlussfolgerungen:

  • Skalarwellen sind reine elektrische (oder magnetische) Wellen
  • Skalarwellen erlauben eine Rückwirkung vom Empfänger auf den Sender
  • Skalarwellen erlauben eine Ausbreitungsgeschwindigkeit schneller als Licht
  • Skalarwellen erlauben eine verlustfreie Übertragung von Sender zu Empfänger, wenn sich beide in Resonanz befinden (dies ist übrigens keine direkte Schlussfolgerung aus dem longitudinalen Charakter!)
  • Wenn sich die Skalarwelle jetzt in Resonanz mit einem biologischen Empfänger befindet, würde dort also eine vollständige Übertragung stattfinden
  • Bisherige Abschirmungen funktionieren nicht oder nicht so gut auf transversalen Wellen
  • Es ist möglich, durch eine resonante Abschirmung Skalarwellen selektiert abzusaugen.

Rezeption der Theorie

Ich will mich hier jetzt nicht in die absoluten Tiefen der Meylschen Theorien verlieren. Es gibt allerdings eine Reihe von Arbeiten die sich kritisch mit seinen Theorien auseinandersetzen (inklusive an seiner eigenen Alma Mater). Ich versuche mich hier auf Links zu beschränken, deren Urheber ich ziemlich zweifelsfrei zuordnen kann – gefunden habe ich noch deutlich mehr.

http://www.mathematik.tu-darmstadt.de/~bruhn/Skalar_oder_Longitudinal.htm

http://www.mathematik.tu-darmstadt.de/%7Ebruhn/NET-Journal-Kommentar.doc

http://www.df0sa.de/cms/upload/ov_intern/dokumente/Betrachtung_Theorien_Meyl_NL_01-04d1.pdf

http://webuser.hs-furtwangen.de/~kuehlke/comments/skalarwellen_spekulation.htm

Ich selbst habe mich mal durch Teile seiner Theorien durchgelesen, und wenn ich ehrlich bin, kommt mir das ganze ein bisschen vor wie die schönen Beweise dass 1=-1 oder 1=2 ist

Da wird lustig hin und her gerechnet, an einer Stelle eine nicht erlaubte Operation eingeführt, und schwupps haben wir ein neues Ergebnis, das der Anschauung absolut widerspricht. Den Fehler darin zu finden ist aber tatsächlich nicht immer so einfach (ich gebe zu im Beispiel habe ich an dem 1=-1 grade auch eine Weile herumgeknackt).

Am Ende läuft es auf ein paar grundlegende Gedanken heraus, die ich aus den Artikeln, die ich gelesen habe, zusammenfasse:

  • Meyl baut in seine Herleitungen immer wieder im Rahmen der Vektoranalysis unzulässige Operationen ein. Das ist insbesondere deshalb eher unschön, weil seine Rechnung mehr oder weniger alles ist, was er an Nachweis hat.
  • Er deklariert Vereinfachungen zu allgemeinen Fällen und vergisst unterwegs bisweilen welche Annahmen er schon getroffen hat
  • Er widerspricht sich gerne und häufig. Mit ein bisschen Spitzfindigkeit kann man den transversalen Charakter einer elektromagnetischen Welle sogar direkt aus den Meylschen Fundamentalgleichungen ableiten.

Fazit – die Theorie Meyls zeigt eine Reihe von Widersprüchen und mindestens mal exotischen mathematischen Operationen, die die Schlussfolgerungen infrage stellen.

Meyl und die Experimente

Im Gegensatz zur Theorie der Skalarwellen, über die es eine große Bandbreite verschieden aufgenommener Literatur gibt, wird über den experimentellen Nachweis deutlich weniger geredet. Prinzipiell finde ich zwei experimentelle Auseinandersetzungen mit Skalarwellen (in direkter oder indirekter Form.

  1. Nikola Tesla:

Meyl behauptet sehr gern, die Skalarwellen basierten auf historischen Experimenten und Nachweisen, die bereits Nikola Tesla um 1900 durchgeführt hat.

Tesla hat in der Tat darüber spekuliert, das damals landläufig als Äther bezeichnete, theoretische Medium das als Ausbreitungsmedium für Licht (und somit elektromagnetische Wellen) dienen sollte, zu nutzen, um die Transmission von elektromagnetischen Wellen zu verstärken. (Heutzutage ist das theoretische Konstrukt des Äthers von der Wissenschaft als unzutreffend verworfen – elektromagnetische Wellen benötigen kein Trägermaterial)

Gleichzeitig postulierte er, dass ein Sender und Empfänger, die in perfekter Resonanz zueinander sind, auf diese Weise eine Übertragungseffizienz von 100% erreichen sollte.

Tesla stellte eine Reihe von Experimenten an, um diese These nachzuweisen und reichte auch einige Patente zu diesem Thema ein (e.g. https://www.google.com/patents/US645576?hl=de).

Es ist allerdings kein belastbarer experimenteller Beweis vorhanden, dass eine derartig effiziente resonante Übertragung gelungen sein soll. Als relativ gesichert kann angenommen werden, dass Tesla eine Fernübertragung gelungen ist, er selbst sieht nach entsprechenden Experimenten jedoch den Grund für diese Übertragung in der elektrostatischen Aufladung der Erde.

Diese elektrostatische Aufladung der Erde ist auch heute gut nachgewiesen und ist eine deutlich wahrscheinlichere Erklärung für Teslas Experimente. Von einer Übertragungseffizienz von 100% ist nirgendwo die Rede.

Hierzu sollte auch noch gesagt werden: Teslas Experimente waren im allgemeinen der Erkenntnis der Wissenschaft zu seiner Zeit deutlich voraus. Mit anderen Worten, für viele Dinge die er zu erreichen versuchte, fehlten ihm die theoretischen Grundlagen und eine systematische, korrekt aufgebaute Theorie der Elektrizität, die in etwa gleichzeitig mit seinen Experimenten entwickelt wurde. Von longitudinalen Wellen spricht Tesla übrigens nicht.

  1. Meyls Experimentierbaukästen

Konstantin Meyl vertreibt auf seiner Seite eine Reihe von Experimentierbaukästen, für eine bemerkenswerte Menge Geld mit der sich der Nachweis von Skalarwellen „ganz einfach“ vollführen lässt. Ich habe mir diese Experimentierbaukästen nicht näher angeschaut (so viel Geld will ich der Sache dann doch nicht widmen), aber keine seriöse Publikation oder Zweitmeinung gefunden, die Ergebnisse und Schlussfolgerungen Meyls bestätigen.

Und das wars tatsächlich schon.

Ganz ehrlich gesprochen ist mir das als experimenteller Nachweis für eine bahnbrechende Theorie ein bisschen dünn. Natürlich gibt es eine Reihe von Theorien die noch nicht, oder erst sehr viel später experimentell nachgewiesen wurden (Higgs-Boson, Stringtheorie

…) aber hier gibt es einen fundamentalen Unterschied:

All diese Theorien beantworten eine bislang ungeklärte Frage der Physik:

Die Stringtheorie ist im Rahmen des Versuches zu sehen, die vier großen Wechselwirkungen der Physik (starke, schwache, Gravitation, elektromagnetisch) zu einer geschlossenen Beschreibung zusammen zu fassen.

Das Higgs-Boson wurde aus der Symmetrie des Standardmodells der Teilchenphysik postuliert und mittlerweile mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit experimentell nachgewiesen

Bei Meyls Theorie ist das allerdings anders. Sie addressiert weder ein bis heute ungeklärtes experimentelles Phänomen (den Nachweis eines Phänomens, das nur durch seine, nicht aber durch die klassische Elektrodynamik erklärt werden kann, ist Meyl bisher schuldig geblieben), noch löst sie eine theoretische Kontroverse auf.

Sie stellt schlicht und ergreifend eine Rechnerei und Umformulierung dar, deren Ursprung allein im Gutdünken des Erfinders zu liegen scheint.

Das ist nach wissenschaftlicher Praxis für eine ernstzunehmende Theorie leider ein bisschen dünn.

Ein bisschen gesunder Menschenverstand zwischendrin:

Fassen wir also mal zusammen:

Meyl formuliert die Gleichungen der Elektrodynamik um und behauptet, eine ganz neue Theorie gefunden zu haben

Diese Theorie löst eine ganze Menge Probleme, spielt aber gleichzeitig sehr leicht in die menschliche Technologieangst.

Diese Theorie wird in einer Zahl von Büchern, aber so weit ich das recherchieren konnte in keiner einzigen Zeitung veröffentlicht, die einer „Peer Review“ unterliegt, also einer Beurteilung durch wissenschaftliche Kollegen auf dem gleichen Fachgebiet.

Es gibt von verschiedener Seite signifikante Kritik an Meyls Methoden, die zu entkräften ihm nicht gelingt.

Die historischen Referenzen, die er angibt, sind freundlich gesagt nicht eindeutig.

Es gelingt weder ihm noch jemand anderem ein bestätigter experimenteller Nachweis der sich nicht durch andere, klassisch bekannte Phänomene erklären lässt.

Es gibt allerdings unglaublich teure Experimentiersets und Abschirmvorrichtungen die Meyl (oder jemand in seinem Namen – die Homepage verlinkt das nur) vertreibt.

Kommt das nur mir seltsam vor…?

Aber vielleicht will die Wissenschaft das nur nicht hören?

Dazu mal ein paar Worte zum Thema „die Wissenschaft“ von jemandem, der da mal gearbeitet hat.

Erstens: Es gibt „die Wissenschaft“ nicht. Wenn etwas sicher ist, dann der Streit unter Wissenschaftlern über nicht tausendprozentig gesicherte und nachgewiesene Dinge. Die Wissenschaft als eine homogene Gruppe zu sehen ist einfach so nicht richtig.

Zweitens: Mag sein dass Theoretiker ihre Theorien nicht gerne widerlegt sehen – aber es gibt nichts spannenderes für einen Experimentator, als eine neue, tolle Theorie tatsächlich bewiesen zu sehen.

Drittens: Die meisten Forscher, gerade in den Naturwissenschaften, sind in ihrer Forschung doch noch zu einem großen Teil frei. Dass keiner von ihnen sich jemals hingesetzt und den gar nicht so komplexen Aufbau nachgebaut hat ist ein recht deutlicher Hinweis darauf dass das keiner ernstgenommen hat. Dass das Gros der Forscher sich einer solchen Theorie nicht widmen wollte – geschenkt. Aber dass wirklich niemand etwas dazu publiziert hat, ist doch schon relativ deutlich.

Viertens: Noch mal. Wenn Meyl recht hätte, dann gäbe es neben den lästigen Mobilfunkstrahlen eine ganze Menge wirtschaftlich unglaublich interessanter Konsequenzen. Da wäre eine Menge Geld mit zu machen. Ich persönlich würde ja vermuten – wenn man mit einem schon vor hundert Jahren experimentell realisierten Aufbau eine Menge Kohle machen könnte, hätte das irgendwer irgendwann mal versucht.

Außer Meyl mit seinen Baukästen, meine ich…

Aber was wäre wenn….?

Nun gut. Setzen wir der Diskussion willen mal den Aluhut auf und schauen wo wir damit hinkommen.

Gehen wir also davon aus, die Meylschen Skalarwellen wären real.

Können wir dann mit Handys Gedanken beeinflussen?

Okay, hier wird’s interessant. Der Gedanke ist ja: Ein Sender sendet ein Signal aus, das sich dann in Resonanz mit dem menschlichen Gehirn bringt und irgend etwas bewirkt. Gedankenkontrolle, oder wegen mir Schädigung.

Interessanter Gedanke. An derlei Dingen wird tatsächlich geforscht, mit ganz normal klassischen transversalen Wellen.(https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elektroenzephalografie, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain-Computer-Interface)

Tatsächlich gibt es schon Geräte, mit deren Hilfe beispielsweise gelähmte Menschen mit ihrer Aussenwelt kommunizieren können. Umgekehrt – Beeinflussung von Gedanken mittels elektromagnetischer Wellen wird zwar seit den Achtzigern immer wieder versucht, es gibt auch kommerzielle Geräte, die bestimmte Effekte angeblich hervorrufen, auch hier ist das Ergebnis aber sehr unspezifisch, umstritten und wissenschaftlich unsauber dokumentiert.

Für einen sehr sensitiven Effekt müssen Geräte immer auf die jeweilige Person angepasst werden. Es gibt nicht eine Frequenz, die bei allen Menschen dasselbe auslöst. Dementsprechend – bei kommerziell erworbenen Handys oder anderen elektronischen Geräten ist eine Gedankenkontrolle da wohl eher nicht möglich.

Wenn jemand allerdings vor dem Kauf eines Geräts von dir ein detailliertes Elektroenzephalogramm verlangt, würde ich vielleicht mißtrauisch werden…

Fazit:

Das ganze Thema strotzt vor dem was ich als „gefährliches Halbwissen“ bezeichnen würde. Nicht ganz falsch, aber auch sicherlich nicht richtig. Viele halb verstandene Dinge, zusammengemengt zu einer Geschichte an der am Ende nicht mehr so viel stimmt.

Ich würde mir jetzt erstmal keine Sorgen wegen hypothetischer, mathematisch falsch hergeleiteter, experimentell nicht nachgewiesener Wellen machen, die im Zweifel am Gehirn auch nicht viel ausrichten könnten, wenn sie denn existieren würden was sie wohl eher nicht tun.

Die gute Nachricht ist aber: FALLS sie existieren, könnte ein Aluhut vielleicht tatsächlich helfen…

 


Call the doctor! Mind control is on.

Mind control with scalar waves

This is how things go – and there’s the next alumium hat story on my desk.

Today’s menu: Scalar waves and mind controls

If you wander through the dark realms of the internet, you will find any number of disquieting things. Skalar waves, created by cell phones and electronic devices, are used to control our thoughts and behaviour.

A quick google search brings out any number of sources – take this one as one of many, I am sure, with some enthusiasm, you will find some more.

(I have to apologize, by the way. This article was first written in german, so most of the references are german, and I did not find good english references for all of my points…)

So lets look at it in more detail.

Brace yourself. We’ll be here for a while.

What are scalar waves?

Many of the articles do not quite quote the origin of the story (and this article in english even gets the origin of things terribly wrong but never mind… go to the german one for something slightly more coherent, though not any more right…), but since the articles quote Nicola Tesla, a short research quickly leads to the theories of Professor Konstantin Meyl, a teacher in the department of electrotec at the university of Furtwangen.

Here scalar waves are waves that, in contrary to normal electromagnetic waves, are no transversal, but rather pure electric (without magnetic) longitudinal waves.

So. Electrotec. My favourite topic. Great. Loved it at university already.

Well. What can be done? Let’s get rolling.

What are longitudinal and transversal waves?

Waves can be distinguished into two different fundamental types:

The direction of the travel of the wave needs to be looked at in comparison to the direction of the oscillation of the wave.

Take the example of a wave hitting a beach. The direction of travel is „towards the beach“, while the direction of oscillation is „perpendicular to the water surface“.

Longitudinal waves are waves where the oscillation is parallel to the direction of travel:

300px-podelna_vlna

(Source= Wikipedia)

An example would be the propagation of sound in air.

Transversal waves are waves where the oscillation is perpendicular to the direction of travel.

300px-pricna_vlna

(Source= Wikipedia)

To avoid the electromagnetic waves (about which I’ll be speaking for the rest of this) I’ll give the example of water waves in a still pond.

So, lets go to the next step

What is an electromagnetic wave?

An electromagnetic wave is a wave that consists of oscillations of an electric and a corresponding magnetic field.

Examples are radio waves as well as light.

In the overwhelming amount of cases, an electromagnetic wave is a pure transversal wave (so oscillation perpendicular to propagation), where electric and magnetic fields oscillate perpendicularly to each other.

220px-electromagneticwave3dfromside

(Source: Wikipedia)

Electric and magnetic field are connected and bring forth each other.

Mathematically, electromagnetic waves are described via the Maxwell Equations, which are known today as the fundamental equations of electrodynamics.

More detailled work on the Maxwell Equations, however, show, that the equations themselves allow longitudinal and transversal solutions depending on the boundary conditions – the known observation of electromagnetic waves as pure transversal waves is the normal case in our everyday world – longitudinal waves, however, are not forbidden by Maxwell if the boundary conditions are chosen correctly.

The best known examples can be found in plasma, where there are many free charge carriers.

That’s quite important, since also today’s physics allows longitudinal waves under certain conditions.

Konstantin Meyl and his theory

Konstantin Meyl is often called the „discoverer“ of the scalar waves.

The professor in the department of power electronics at the Hochschule Furtwangen claims to have found a new formulation of the fundamental equations of electrodynamics, that also immediately leads to the presence of scalar waves.

Scalar waves are only a part of his quite freaky theories, which, among other things, try to establish a full duality between electric and magnetic fields.

He claims, Maxwell’s equations to be only special cases of the more fundamental equations

E=v x B

and

H = v x D

and takes these as a starting point for all deductions.

According to him, scalar waves have among others the following consequences:

  • Scalar waves are pure electric (or magnetic) waves
  • Scalar waves allow backtalk from receiver to sender
  • Scalar waves allow progression faster than the speed of light
  • Scalar waves allow 100% efficiency of transmission from sender to receiver (by the way, this is not a direct consequence of the longitudinal character)
  • If a scalar wave now is in resonance with a biological receiver, there would be a perfect transmisson.
  • Nowadays’ shielding doesn’t work or doesn’t work that well on scalar waves
  • It is possible to suck up scalar waves by resonant shielding.

Reception of the theory

I don’t want to go into the ultimate depths of the theories of Meyl. However, there are a number of works that critically examine the theories (including at his own university). I try to restrict myself to links where I can assign the originator without doubt – I did find quite some more:

http://www.mathematik.tu-darmstadt.de/~bruhn/Skalar_oder_Longitudinal.htm

http://www.mathematik.tu-darmstadt.de/%7Ebruhn/NET-Journal-Kommentar.doc

http://www.df0sa.de/cms/upload/ov_intern/dokumente/Betrachtung_Theorien_Meyl_NL_01-04d1.pdf

http://webuser.hs-furtwangen.de/~kuehlke/comments/skalarwellen_spekulation.htm

I have read through parts of his theory and, to be honest, it seems to me a little like the funny proofs of 1=-1 or 1=2.

You calculate from here to there, make a non allowed operation in one step and huzzah – here we have a new result that defies the understanding. To find the mistake is not always easy (I’ll admit I took a moment for getting the 1=-1 thing).

In the end, it boils down to a few fundamental thoughts that I summarize from the articles I read

  • Meyl consistently uses operations that are not allowed in the framework of vector analysis. This is especially nasty, since calculations are more or less all the proof he has.
  • He declares special cases to general cases and occasionally forgets the approximations he has done
  • He contradicts himself often and with apparent pleasure. With a bit of nastiness, we can even deduct the transversal character of an electromagnetic wave from Meyl’s fundamental equations.

As a summary:

Meyl’s theory shows a number of contradictions and at least exotic mathematic operations that put in question his conclusions.

Meyl and the experiments

In contrast to the scalar wave theory, where there is a lot of varying literature, the experimental proof is much less talked about. In principle I find two experimental works with respect to scalar waves (directly or indirectly):

  1. Nikola Tesla:

Meyl likes to say, that the scalar waves are based on historic experiments made by Nikola Tesla around 1900.

Indeed, Tesla speculated that what then was called Aether (a theoretic medium postulated as the medium light travels in) could be used to enhance the transmission of electromagnetic waves. (Today, science has discarded the theoretical construct of aether as incorrect – there is no carrier medium for electromagnetic waves).

At the same time, he postulated that a sender and receiver, in perfect resonance to each other, should allow a transmission efficiency of 100%.

Tesla made a number of experiments to prove this thesis and handed in a few patents as well.(e.g. https://www.google.com/patents/US645576?hl=de).

However, he did not achieve a reliable experimental proof that such a resonant transmission was done. It can be said with relative certainty that Tesla managed some sort of transmission, but he himself later thought, this was due to electrostatic charge of the earth.

This electrostatic charge is well documented today and a much more likely explanation for Tesla’s results. However, in this context, nobody speaks of a transmission efficiency of 100%.

One word to the side: Tesla’s experiments were in parts ahead of the state of knowledge of science in his days. In other words, for many things he tried to achieve, he did not have the basics or a systematically constructed theory of electricity, which was developed somewhat in parallel to his experiments. By the way, Tesla does not speak of longitudinal waves.

  1. Meyls Experiments

Konstantin Meyl sells on his website a number of experimental sets for a significant amount of money (http://www.k-meyl.de/xt_shop/index.php?cat=c5_Sets—Geraete.html&XTCsid=6c4b21b179e310c6407426ed4c36a405) with which the proof of scalar waves can be done „very easily“. I have not looked at them in detail (that’s too much money for me for such a ruse), but I found no serious publication or second opinion confirming Meyl’s conclusion.

And that’s it.

To be honest, to me that’s a little thin as experimental proof for a groundbreaking theory.

Of course there are a number of theories not yet, or much later proven experimentally (Higgs Boson, String theory), but there’s a fundamental difference.

All of those theories answer a physics question previously unsolved.

String theory is a good candidate for the attempt to combine the four big interactions of physics (strong, weak, gravity, electromagnetic) to one theory.

The Higgs Boson was postulated from the symmetry of the standard model of particle physics and today is most probably proven experimentally

With Meyl, it’s diffferent, though. He neither addresses an unsolved experimental issues (up to this day, he owes us to show a phenomenom that cannot be explained via classic electrodynamic), nor does he solve a theoretical controversy.

He simply calculates and reformulates, the origin of this being simply the will of the discoverer.

That, taking into account good scientific practice, is too little for a theory that wants to be taken seriously.

In between all the physics, a bit of common sense:

Let’s summarize:

Meyl reformulates electrodynamics and claims to have found a new theory.

This theory solves a number of problems (energy conservation…), however, easily plays into man’s fear of technology.

The theory is published in a number of books, but as far as I can see, not in a single newspaper under „peer review“, thus under review by scientists in teh same field.

There is significant criticism about Meyl’s method, that he doesn’t succeed to dispell.

The historic references he gives are, friendly spoken, not clear.

Neither he nor others give experimental evidence that cannot be explained by other physics phenomena.

However, there are very expensive experimental sets and shielding devices which Meyl (or someone in his name) sells.

Am I the only one who thinks that’s odd…?

But maybe the scientific community just doesn’t want too hear?

A few words on science by a former scientist.

First: There is no such thing as „the scientific community“. If something is a given, then that scientists will quarrel, as long as something is not totally and absolutely fixed and proven. Scientists are not a homogeneous group.

Second: Maybe theoreticians don’t want to see their theories disproven – but experimentalists love nothing if not to disprove a theoretician.

Third: Most researchers, especially in sciences, are still relatively free in their research. That none of them ever sat down to reconstruct a not-so-complex setup is a good hint it’s not worth it. I wouldn’t say anything if a majority ignored it, but that no one took it up is quite a sign.

Fourth: Again. If Meyl were right, then, apart from the nasty mobile radiation, there would be a number of economically very interesting consequences. You could make buckets of money with that. Personally I’d expect – if you could make buckets of money on a setup more than 100 years old, someone would have tried.

Except for Meyl, of course.

But what if….?

All right. For argument’s sake. Let’s put on the aluminium hat and see where this goes.

Let’s assume scalar waves exist.

Can then cell phones influence our thoughts?

Okay. This is interesting. The thought apparently is: A sender sends a signal that is in resonance with the human brain and does something. Mind control. Damage.

Interesting thought. Indeed, there is research done in this field, with normal, classic, transversal waves.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroencephalography

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain%E2%80%93computer_interface

Indeed, today, there are devices with which paralyzed people can communicate with their surroundings. On the other hand – it has been tried since the eighties to influence thoughts with electromagnetic waves, but results are unspecific, inconclusive and scientifically badly documented.

For a very sensitive effect, the devices have to be adapted to the persn. There is not one frequency that does the same in all humans. So – if you buy electronic devices or cell phones, mind control is probably not possible.

However, if someone wants a detailled electroencephalogrammetry of you when you want to buy a cell phone – I’d probably get suspicious…

As a conclusion

The whole topic is full of what I’d call „dangerous half knowledge“. Not quite wrong, but certainly not right. Many half understood things, mixed to a story that in the end is wrong.

So I wouldn’t worry about hypothetic, mathematically wrongly deduced, experimentally not proven waves that, in case of doubt, wouldn’t do much to your brain, if they existed – which they probably don’t.

Good news though: IF they exist, an aluminium hat might help indeed…

Myths of the internet – the problem with reboiling water

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A word on the side

It’s been a long long time since I wrote something here and I kind of already filed off this experiment as an idea that didn’t really fly, but I have been writing so many geeky postings on FB lately that I did decide to relaunch this one and see if I still feel like continuing.

Anyhow what triggered this was the amount of nerdy, sciency discussions that I have been leading of late – concerning science stuff, theories or surprising absence of factism – and I spent so much time looking up stuff that I thought I might as well put the information somewhere, since I have made the effort.

Also, I decided to link this to FB, since this was where I was having most of the discussions, and it has been an open discussion anyhow if I place my assorted ramblings there, for that’s probably the network that I have spent most time on…

So now, coming to what brought me to writing today.

A friend of mine had been stumbling over an article of the „aluminium hat“ category. So, an item where people are afraid of something that seems to be fairly standard, because of a seemingly sciency factoid that turns something simple into something lethal.

 

 

Aluminium hats and reboilt water

In this case – boiling water that has been boilt before.

The origin of it was a german article – for those of you who read german – that was sent to me by a friend of mine.

It is linked to an article in english, which – no surprise – is on a site that sells water softeners and filters.

Let’s start with recalling the key points of this genius line of argument:

  1. Reboiled water loses its oxygen content through evaporating dissolved oxygen molecules, thus curbing the brewing effect. Therefore reboilt water has less oxygen than boilt water.
  2. Leaving water to sit and then reboiling it can increase the concentration of  certain chemicals such as: arsenic, flouride and nitrates.
  3. The increase in concentration of calcium via reboiling can have a severely damaging effect, leading to: arthritis, gallstones, kidney stones and hardening of arteries.
  4. Leaving water to stand in our kettle, which runs the risk of rusting the metal element. I don’t think any of us need a doctorate to determine that drinking rusty water doesn’t taste nice and isn’t that healthy!

(Of course, the site continues to reassure that if you buy their filters and use them to purify the water, you can reboil it as often as you want…)

Now, let’s continue to look at it in a sort of consolidated manner:

 

The thing with the oxygen.

Yes, it’s true. Liquid water contains some amount of dissolved oxygen. The usual concentration in natural water is something between 14 mg/l (at 0°) and… well. 0 mg/l obviously, in boiling water.

In natural water, the oxygen content depends on a number of oxygen producing and oxygen destroying processes. The chief ones usually are

  1. saturation value of oxygen in the water: that one says how much oxygen can get into the water at all. It is, almost singularly, depending on temperature (salt content etc being secondary effects). The higher the temperature, the less oxygen there will be in the water. Same, by the way, goes for other gases.
  2. size of the water surface vs its volume: Oxygen enters the water mostly via the atmosphere, therefore the larger the surface is, the larger the area for interaction. And the more oxygen will enter the water.
  3. turbulence of air and water, especially at the surface: Turbulence in air will bring fresh oxygen to the boundary regions to the water surface. Turbulence of water will transport oxygen-rich water to lower regions, transporting water with low oxygen levels to the surface. Also, turbulence improves the surface-to-volume-ratio (see size of water surface)
  4. photosynthesis of water plants: photosynthesis creates oxygen out of light and CO2
  5. breathing of animals and plants: Obvious for animals, but yes, plants also use breathing as an energy source, although during daytime it is vastly overpowered by the process of photosynthesis.

Obviously, when talking about boiled water, I sincerely hope we only have to deal with point 1-3, unless you have a serious contamination in your plumming!

So what happens when you boil the water?

First thing – yep, the article is right. The oxygen leaves the water. The higher the temperature gets, the more oxygen is dispelled, and thus indeed the boilt water has less oxygen than the unboilt one.

Now, that’s bad news, but the good news isn’t far behind.

Once the boiling stops, the water cools, the oxygen seeps back in. It’ll take time, and a bit of stirring (turbulence, you remember?) wouldn’t go amiss, but eventually, you’ll have some oxygen back.

It takes some waiting,though. But within a few hours, you should be ok.

And even if you won’t – there isn’t really that much advantage of oxygen in water.

There is a general myth that oxygen helps release the taste in tea leaves – but, seriously? I mean, we have just established that in boiling water all oxygen is more or less gone from the water, so that doesn’t make that much sense, does it?

I’d worry about the oxygen content of water if I were a fish – there’s really a critical concentration below which fish get into real trouble (one of the reasons why global warming actually in itself can lead to fish death) – but I wouldn’t worry so much about it as a human being. The oxygen is much less in concentration than anything that you breathe in; and on top of it, we all know that we don’t so much like to have too much gas in our digestive organs.

I think you get the picture…

In short, oxygen in drinking water isn’t dangerous, but lack of oxygen in drinking water isn’t really a problem at all. (Otherwise, why recommend hot beverages if you’re feeling bad?)

So, no panic on that front, but let’s move to the next one

 

Arsenic, fluorites, nitrites – scary stuff

Yeah, that does sound scary. Especially arsenic is really dangerous stuff, and no one would want that in their drinking water, but also the unhealthy aspects of the other two are fairly well documented.

So yes, I wouldn’t want to drink water with a lot of any of those in it, and UNICEF did recognize arsenic in drinking water as a major issue in some areas of the world.

All three (arsenic, fluorite and nitrite compounts) enter the water via the groundwater. In some areas, due to the composition of the layers of the earth crust where the groundwater is assembled, a higher concentration of those is reached, simply because they are water soluble and have been near the soil that contained these materials for a long time. It is actually something quite natural, although, unfortunately, it is also something that’s not too good for mankind.

Now, what about the reboilt water?

First, take a look at the molecule for arsenic acid (which is one of the compounds you’d expect in drinking water):

248px-arsenate-svg

There’s a lot of H’s and O’s for sure, but in the very center, crucial to the molecule, there is arsenic.

And that’s the point we have to remember. To get arsenic compounds in water, you have to have arsenic. If you want more arsenic compounds, you need to get more arsenic.

So. Where could ‘more arsenic’ come from in boiling – or reboilt – water?

  • either it was in the water to start with. Then we are in the realm of the groundwater considerations as quoted above. Clearly though, reboiling doesn’t put the water near those arsenic soils again – so there should be no additional arsenic atoms that way.
  • Can arsenic be created by boiling? Clearly not. When we boil something non-radioactive under the conditions of reasonable pressure, temperature, etc, what usually would happen, at most, is chemistry. Molecules could form, but to turn one atom into another, that’s not chemistry, that’s nuclear fission or fusion (depending if you go to heavier or less heavy atoms). If you can get that to work in boiling water, thus turning any atom related to water into an arsenic atom – congratulations. You defied the laws of science as we know it today and are probably in for a nobel prize.
  • Can arsenic come from the air? Hopefully not, unless you have some really high arsenic concentration in the air. Even more difficult, given that at room temperature, arsenic is in solid state
  • Can arsenic come from the pot we are boiling stuff in? Hopefully not. Word of advise: Don’t buy a pot that contains an arsenic coating. Or a fluoride coating. Or nitrite coating. If you don’t do that, you should be ok.

So no truth at all to the myth?

As many myths, this one contains a grain of truth as well.

Let’s imagine, we already have arsenic contaminated water. Now, if we start boiling the water, some of it will evaporate. The arsenic acid, however, will not evaporate so easily. So, while the number of arsenic acid molecules will remain constant, the amount of water molecules, in correspondence, will decrease. Therefore, the concentration of arsenic, in total, will increase.

Now, this is not singularly a factor of reboiling water. In fact, that one will happen every time that you have evaporating water, so keeping water boiling for a long time is just as, if not more dangerous than reboiling. This only depends on how much water evaporates – so, all things considered, cooking yourself a nice pot of rice (where the water is constantly kept boiling until it has all been sucked up by the rice) is a much more dangerous thing than reboiling water.

Let’s keep perspective here.

That having been said, it’s good to know (and keep in mind) that there are some areas in the world where arsenic poisoning of water is a real thing. So if you’re in any of those areas, I’d try to get some general information on how to avoid too much arsenic uptake by drinking water.

Too much calcium?

OK, let’s for once get down and run some numbers, shall we?

Let’s say, we have your everyday munich tap water. That’s fairly calcium rich, having 83mg/l of calcium.

The 83mg/l are an average value, the variation is between 72 mg/l and 83mg/l

Now we heat up 1 liter of water (including 83mg of calcium) to 100°C and start boiling. The amount of water that will evaporate is given by m=E/H. E being the energy that is placed into the system, H being the vaporization (so the amount of heat needed to evaporate one mol of a compound). For water at 100°C, that’s 40kJ/mol.

Now we neglect the fact that the water already evaporates below 100°C, and subsequently also neglect that not all the heat energy will be used to evaporate, but some will be used to keep the water on temperature. Let’s say we have an average water boiler that gives 1000W, but since they are not 100% efficient, lets assume 50% efficiency, which leaves us with 500W to evaporate the water.

Say the water boils for a minute (which is already fairly generous using a water boiler)

Then we have m = (500 W*60s)/(40kJ)mol = 30kJ/40kJ mol = 0,75mol

One mol of water is 18 g, so 0,75 mol is 13,5g, equals 13,5 ml.

That means we have lost 13,5/1000=1.35% of water. We now only have 0,9865l of water – but still 83 mg of calcium. Rule of 3 tells us we now have 84,1 mg/l of calcium. That’s still very well within the local and temporal variation of above.

It’s only a rough calculation (quite conservative though), and it doesn’t even consider that some of the calcium will actually remain in your water boiler – as anyone living in Munich can tell you :-).

The natural color of the inside a stainless steel water boiler over here is clearly white.

So. Really, really, once you run the numbers there is no need whatsoever to panic.

 

Last but not least – the rusting kettle

OK. Let’s make this very short.

I don’t know about underdeveloped countries, if there are still some iron kettles around.

In the first world – use stainless steel pots. Or porcellain. Or whatever. Not unprotected iron. Common sense, really, in all honesty.

 

All things summed up

OK. I just took five pages to prove that reboiling water is ok.

I’m a hero, really.

Well. What don’t you do for a good and unsolicited rant…

Wake up, sweet prince

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As many other (especially European) geeks and nerds, I have been an avid follower of the happenings around the Rosetta mission and the first thing to ever (sort of) land on a comet in a more or less controlled manner.

For those, who’ve been living on the moon, or who are not into this kind of nerd thing (hang on, what are you doing here, then…? 😉 ), if you want to know I can only recommend to watch the ESA videos on the subject, because they are cute beyond measure.

The start of the mission

On the road…

Getting impatient

Passing time on the way

Preparing to land

Being a nerd of the space kind, occasionally, I followed the comet landing by the tweets of @ESA_Rosetta and @Philae2014, which basically were almost too cute to be legal, and the overload of cuteness and immature personalization of actually soulless objects and space ships got me to the drawing board (something which doesn’t really happen often…).

So here’s my interpretation of what happened when Philae actually tried to touch down onto the comet 67P, and actually made a triple landing instead of one:

Little Philae1

ESA, of course, interprets it differently (Probably a PR thing…)

So, now Philae is sleeping, and I hope his dreams are peaceful ones. Or absurd ones…. Like the one that I imagined the other day

Little Philae 2

So, that’s how far the story got… with lots of science and groundbreaking technology in the process, and it would be a shame, wouldn’t it, if Philae just continued his sleep, never to wake up again to bring us an exciting continuation of its adventures.

So, I softly call:

Wake up, sweet prince

The wind-elf’s new dress – part two

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So, finally, although the actual dress is long done, here follows the rest of the account on how spirit tries to make an elven dress.

The first steps for the planning and the underdress were here.

And now I go to sew the coat that goes with it.
Again, the style guide and inspiration was this beauty of a dress here.

Although I am pretty sure I will never pull off something even half as professional

Originally I planned to adapt and use this cut here (the female part, obviously)

It had all the requirements I was going for: a relatively voluminous skirt, a bodice that looks as if it could fit to my not-really-androgynous shape, the general flair and fluff that I was looking for, but fortunately, before I started cutting, I realized about two things:

The cut probably wouldn’t work well with the closing which I had envisaged (which would be for the coat to be closed in front) – both the waistband and the fact that the skirt has a closed front clearly point against that. So, despite having bought that cut explicitly for the dress, I started sifting through my old patterns to find something feasible and finally stumbled upon this top:

Seems ridiculous at first, but if one alters the neckline, uses completely different arms and of course elongates the top to a real skirt, well…

Then it’s a different cut altogether. But bodice and shape, that’s the key, and so I set out to work.

The lining was supposed to be simple dark-white cotton (Ikea Bomull; the weapon of choice for the sewing LARPer…), and the outside a beautiful dark violet velvet.

I worked with the cut where I could and used imagination and guesswork when the cut didn’t get me anywhere.

For the neckline, as a starting point, I simply elongated the shoulder line and then added a higher neck (as can be seen in the picture), which later mostly fell victim to my optimization measures.

Elongating the skirt was an easy thing, simply continuing in a straight line from where the cut ended towards the intended length, continuing the cut in that way by simply adding length and volume (again, see cut picture)

working with the cut

The arms were supposed to be leaf-like half arms, filled with embroidered silk, so that they may open upon movement like some sort of flower and reveal the silk underneath. I didn’t really have an idea on how to do it, but I guessed right: Basically one does two arms per arm, one of which is shaped as it usually would be (“normal”), while the other one is connected there where the seam of the normal arm is, and instead opens at the top

arms

Having cut everything, I set to work and, by way of what seems to be my usual habit, took some time to get the fitting done. First the lining, then the overcoat.

lining and overcoat

The arms proved to be a challenge. Tip: sew in steps.

I first sewed the upper part of the arms (the normal part, both lining and velvet part) into the overcoat, then added the inverse part, then fixed the lining to the whole assembly. It was a challenge for the sewing machine in the end, but that step-wise procedure made for a cleaner seam (and better fixation) than if I had tried to connect it all in one go.

Now for the eternal question of fixation:

Usually, there’s four ways that I do fixations

  • Close fit, so that no additional fixation is needed. Doesn’t work with all dresses, not with all fabrics, and sometimes I mess up. Turned out pretty quickly: The dress is too tight, the fabric too rigid for that.
  • Knobs: Can be great for a close fit, but is always a hit-and-miss with me. Sometimes it turns out great, sometimes horrible, and once the holes are done, there’s little one can do to correct. Call me a coward.
  • Threads and holes: The classic. Was also my first idea for this dress, although I opted not for holes (tedious in the thick velvet) but for loops. Turns out equally quickly: It looks pretty awful. So, no option

Bad example

  • Eternal fallback option that served me well in the past: Hooks and loops. I always keep a small stack of them, and for whatever reason, I seem to be getting along really well with that technique.

That finally does the trick. Obviously the neckline needs work and the dress is still too long, but the arms are coming along nicely and the shape and fit seems to have worked out quite nicely.

getting there

I cleaned that up, and then set to decoration. I had early on decided on using silver-white edging and embroidery in white wool, although I decided on the motive only relatively late.

embroidery

It finally turned out to be a bird taking flight (It’s supposed to be a wild goose, but I will admit freely it does not come off too well) – character heritage again – and I’m actually quite happy about it.

So, all together, embroidery done, underdress and overcoat, here’s the thing the wind-elf’s new dress:

Overall money spent (overdress only):

Thanks to the relatively expensive fabric probably 150 Euros

Work hours: Again, scrambled bits and pieces everywhere… the fabric was better to manage than the underdress, but there was more to be done, so I would say, same order of magnitude: 20 hours

complete

The kingsman – A fun ride with a few grains of salt into the bargain

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It’s been a few days, but there’s no reason not to still do it.

So, I went to the cinema and watched “kingsman”.

Again, it had come well recommended, but I wasn’t really all that sure what to expect. Marvel-and-DC-type of movie – part unrealistic but fun action, part darkness, part comedy? Austin-Powers-type of movie – spy story that no one in their right minds can ever take serious? James-Bond-style – a little on the short side for humor, but good action and unrealistic scenarios?

I wasn’t sure.

Having watched the movie, I’m still not really.

Probably, it’s a little of both.

But let’s start in a more consistent manner.

The good

All things considered, the movie was really entertaining. Well paced, interesting, a good, funny ride with a lot of nice turns.

Jack Davenport in the beginning was a really nice surprise – I have a soft spot for him since watching the extra scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean and totally NOT writing a long fanfiction about him – although, of course, it was a sad thing to see him killed of so quickly.

Colin Firth was obviously born to play roles like these – no surprises there for me – and he unsurprisingly pulls it of convincingly – although I totally loved him freaking out in the church; now that was a pretty unusual moment. On the other side… it does remind one of him and Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones… of sorts.. but I digress.

I liked the classy scenes, and the clash between the upper class society and the young lower class boy. Interesting dynamics without drifting too much into the cliché. I like that Eggsy doesn’t lose his edge until the end.

Another thing I liked was that he didn’t end up with the other kingsman, Roxy. That would have been really cheesy, and they didn’t make it, which is something I totally appreciate.

It doesn’t always have to be romance. Roxy was cool in her own right. (Obviously, also Roxy belongs onto the list of things that I really liked)

A lot of the details were truly enjoyable – the Swedish princess was a fun twist, I laughed my head off when the swedish prime minister turned on her in a second saying “I’m a republican”. The razor-protheses-sidekick of the main villain made up for some really good and original fight scenes.

The pacing was great, the acting was on the whole on the good side (outstanding exceptions see above) and the setting of scenes was enjoyable.

Which leads me to the bad

I could point out this detail, or that, but let’s sum it up:

I’m still, after watching it, not sure what sort of movie “kingsman” wants to be. I’ve detected hints of “the avengers” (the old series, not the new movies) in the mixture of class and technical gimmicks; scenes one might rather find in Austin Powers – thinking of the ending with the swedish princess, as well as the exploding heads fireworks (in totally unrelated news – what the hell was that??!) and just about every superhero movie there is (the villain and his sidekick were absolutely Marvel/DC villain material…). In other areas (chiefly the training of the kingsmen, but also all interactions with Merlin), however, the movie was much more serious; closer to Mission Impossible or the (admittedly at times subtly self-deprecating) James Bond series.

All of these are amusing in their own right, but put together it feels a little too much and too inconsistent for a single movie. It made the story unpredictable, I’ll admit, but it was a little annoying in the way of how to respond and “feel the flow” of the movie.

A genre-mix is fine, but this was a little too much for me.

I could quote more, but this is probably what it boils down to.

All in all it was an enjoyable ride with some grating aspects, but don’t let that fool you.

All things considered, it’s still worth your while.

“I love to wave to those opportunities as they fly by” – more on Sleepy Hollow

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OK, I was prepared to be an individualist.

For all I’ve read, for all I’ve seen, I was dead set on keeping an open mind and not letting myself be influenced by the fact that people say that the second season has… *cough* its weaknesses.

Well, as an individualist, I still see the weaknesses. Drats.

7 episodes in, I already regret that I haven’t written an intermediate review before, because to me, this season, as far as I see it, is already divided in 2 different parts.

OK, so I’ll just divide my review and take that into account.

Part 1, or “The strange foresight of Spirit”: Episode 1-5

In my last review, which treated the second half of the first season, I was missing filler episodes and backgrounds, and funnily, in the first episodes of season 2, I am getting what I’ve been looking for.

Some more information on purgatory in the first (and up until now most brilliant) episode of the season, and then a few filler episode that allow me to catch my breath and learn a little more about characters and the world that Sleepy Hollow is set in.

I’m actually somewhat glad for this – again, I’m probably at odds with most of the fandom – but the little respite is actually a welcome thing, and it helps me to get a better feeling for the world that they are trying to build.

Or so I hoped.

I’m not sure the filler episode is doing what filler episodes actually should do – build up the world and the framespace for bigger events to come. I detect a few minor inconsistencies, and also ideas where I think it should have been detailed a bit better.

The series continues with its huge list of things that are connected to the actual main characters (Ichabod’s wannabe love, Katrina’s circle, the hints towards Jenny’s and Abbie’s mother, the son of Joe Corbin’s); and while this is always good for personal drama, I am feeling this is moving a bit too fast. I would have actually liked to see – if you make it a monster-of-the-day-thing – a little more episodes like “Go, where I send thee”, where (although, granted, Ichabod has crossed this in the past, but lightly only..) the actual monster is not intimately connected to the main characters.

Why?

Because there’s only so often you can do that and keep things realistic. I have a feeling this is blowing off steam too quickly. All the great things we could have done… The potential of the weeping lady as something more of a long-term-thing… the possibility of Moloch/Henry building up an army of those that are, by willingness (Weeping lady) or circumstance (Joe Corbin’s son) opposed to the witnesses…

There have been hints of that in the first season with Andy, but now I see little of that.

Still, in these first episodes there was definitely more light than shadow.

Things I liked:

  • The first episode – although I do think one could have spent some more time in getting all the characters out of their respective predicaments, it was realistically done and the plot was driven and interesting. Lots of Ichabbie and I really liked the purgatory scenes.
  • John Noble as Henry. Nuff said
  • Hawley: I know he’s not so much of a fandom favourite, and while I do share the feeling he’s kind of taking over the role of Jenny (a dynamic which I don’t like), as a character and in his interaction with the rest of the crowd I really do like him. He has sass, he is sceptic, he refuses to just jump the “save the world”-bandwagon, in short, he has a bit of an Han Solo quality to him. The rogue pirate, not such a bad heart, but not easy to get to at all.
  • The deal between Henry and Irving. In the last episodes I’m getting the feeling that the writers don’t really know what to do with that (we will see later on), but the original idea of Henry making himself Irving’s lawyer is gold, in fact. We’ll see how this continues
  • Abbie and Ichabod dynamics – never gets old.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Missed opportunities – see above, there’s lots of things that one could have dragged out more to draw more on it. Not a problem yet, but I see at some point in time the show running out of blasts from the past to use to keep tension up. If this is really “planned for 5 (or was it 7) seasons” in a Babylon-5-planned-for-5-seasons-way, then, well, it’s blowing off its steam a little too fast for my taste.
  • Jenny and Irving getting pushed to the sidelines. I like Hawley (see things I like) but I don’t like him “replacing the gang”.
  • Abraham – the horseman isn’t only vanishing, I have no idea at all what he’s up to these days. How does he fit with Moloch? How does he fit with Henry? How is that tying into apocalypse? How does he interact with Katrina? We don’t really see any of it…

Part 2 or “I really wish I didn’t have to say this”: Episodes 5-7

OK, I took a break after Episode 7 to regain my steam. I would have so loved to be wrong.

But especially episodes 6 and 7 (and in parts 5) made me really understand why some people were so angry about the development of the season.

Like I said in the beginning – I was prepared to be open minded. It’s a reflex of mine; if something or someone is really hated upon, I usually tend to take the opposite position, just because receiving an almost irrational amount of opposition makes me think that that person/thing is probably unfairly judged.

So when it came to Katrina who – if one’s connection to the fandom is mainly reading tumblr – is viciously disliked, I was all prepared to find out the storyline about her isn’t quite that bad.

Well.

Hm. Well.

OK, I’ll give up and rant to my heart’s desire before have a go at rationality:

What`s up with that? Seriously. Demon baby is your introduction to have Katrina get into the team witness? You can’t be serious.

Also – she’s supposed to be a powerful witch. Coven leader for a while. Looking at the way she interacted in the past, she had this beautiful, ethereal, knowing quality to her, a radiant confidence that made her role not only believable but actually great. I really liked her initial scenes with Ichabod in the first season, both in the past and in purgatory; the wise witch woman came across splendidly. I was looking forward to having some of that, but heavens, where is that Katrina now…? Yes, she’s lost her certainty with all the mess with Henry, but still, I miss that quality about her. She’s supposed to have grit, isn’t she? Well, I don’t see it.

Also, if I have to see another episode that ends with Henry apologizing to Moloch for his failure and then doing some new alchimagic thingy or other that’ll bring on the next bad of the season I’ll scream. Or fall asleep. Or both.

Come on… even if it is that way, to pull the same storytelling trick three times in a row in three subsequent episodes is either a running gag or bad setting. I tend to the second, because it doesn’t feel like a gag.

Also: What’s up with Abraham??? Again?? We see him once or twice enraged when Katrina is missing, but only when it’s convenient for the story, and in the mean time, what does he do? Also, as long as she is with him, what does he do? Does he try playing house in that enchanted cabin? All good and well, but we don’t see any of it. How does Katrina cope in that? Who has which plan? Guys, you’re missing out on great plots here.

Also: Irving??? Jenny??? Where the hell are they…?

Enough of a rant. Attempt at rationality.
If one takes back a step and looks at it, the season has a lot of really potentially good ideas.

  • Katrina and her conflicts: I understand that Katrina isn’t liked so much because she gets in the way of the stellar dynamics between Ichabod and Abbie, but still, from a pure story teller’s point of view, one could do great things with her.
  • Katrina the witch: With all that she obviously knows about the apocalypse, life, magic, the fabric of the world and much more, Katrina could be a valuable asset to “Team Witness”. Like Ichabod and his teachings by Benjamin Franklin, her spells and sorceries could bring a new level to the conflicts. Being a magic lover I could think of many plots that would only be possible by adding magic also on the side of the Witness team, and Katrina could be the door to that.
  • Katrina and Ichabod (and Abbie): Man, there’s conflict potential. Obviously Ichabod is very, very steady in his affections (and this fits the character) but equally obviously there is something about Abbie that is hard to ignore for him. I am actually – again probably opposing most of the fandom – much in favor of the scene where he sides with Katrina instead of Abbie when the vote comes down once; but not as a standalone thing, but as a bigger thing to be explored. Torn loyalties is a big topic here, and at some point in time these personal issues would have to be explored and resolved. There is lots of potential for character development that can go every which way.
  • Katrina and Abraham: Again, actually not such a bad idea. I actually liked the thing of giving the headless horseman a face (not necessarily in a literal sense of the word, although I do understand that it’s easier for acting, so I will even forgive them the little trick of the “head seeing necklace”….). His interaction could bring up lots of interesting questions. What are his motivations beyond Katrina? Can a horseman be redeemed (interesting question also in view of Henry!!)? What makes a person evil?
  • Katrina and Ichabod and Henry: The Crane Family Drama…there could be lots of interesting questions here as well. Katrina and Ichabod being (initially?) obviously on the good side, having a son like Henry is quite obviously conflict potential. Does one stay on the good side? Are loyalties to blood stronger? Can he be redeemed? The questions are skimmed, but… well..
  • Magic as a force of god or devil: This is one of the things that I haven’t fully understood yet. What is the source of magic in this world? Nature? God? Devil? All of it in little bits and pieces? Is what Henry does comparable to what Katrina does? Does the use of magic make one evil, ultimately, as some of the things we see (the Four who Speak as One being part of the Sisterhood of the radiant heart, and still not being very nice when we finally meet them…) seem to suggest? Also: Is magic a gift or a learning or both?
  • The pact between Irving and Henry: Glorious turn of events in the first place. Someone as steadfast and strong as Irving (who definitely has more grit than Andy) involuntarily in the clutches of the Horseman… nice potential.

Funnily, the series explores none of that… really… at this point. This is the starting point, and it’s already partly obsolete at the end of season 7 (Katrina leaving from Abraham seemingly “just like that”, Irving vanishing off-screen, the Crane Family Drama being static as can be…). The feeling sticks that things are run over before they are actually given a life; situations that one could explore and draw interest and character development from just pop up and vanish again within one episode.

It feels a bit random, and I’ve said it before, several times, that I think this story is moving to fast and passing on development and storyline for cheap shocking at some point in time. It was there in season 1, but not that bad, but here it becomes really grating.

There is a great set of characters that really, really stands out in the way of individuality as opposed to most other things I’ve seen, a very promising setting that is incredibly original. The framework is all there, but it feels a little as if the authors are somewhat helpless as to what to do with it.

Well. I’m only seven episodes in. I may be unfair at this point.

I’ll keep on watching and tell you if it turns better or not.

For now, so long, I remain

Spirit

Spirit does Mass Effect – At the end of the road

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… there’s the rest of the adventure to be had.

After a refreshingly short period of time (yes, I mean that!!) I finished Mass Effect 1 and am ready to plunge myself into the next challenge that Bioware has in store for me.

But first things first: The wrapup.

Me being a die-hard Bioware fan (except for the Witcher games, I have never enjoyed anything as much as the Bioware products when it comes to computer games), I liked it very much.

Since I am not very good at keeping my reviews spoiler-free, read at your own risk:

The story

Gripping, interesting, with quite a few surprises and well-paced. I mentioned the brevity of the game, and I mean this in a totally positive way because, being a casual gamer with not quite that much time on my hands, I am so much in favor of many level-grinding quests before I can again get to the juicy stuff of the next plot twist. (Probably one of the myriard reasons why I never warmed to Skyrim – maybe one day I will write a post on nothing but a Skyrim rant, but this is not the day…) The ratio between filler quests, background quests and main quests was really a bonus for me here.

The story in itself was a classic hero story in a way, but I liked the mixture of SciFi elements with ancient mysteries and lots of story background. Having Shepard start out as an accomplished warrior already was a refreshing twist that I already appreciated when I started out. I liked the role of humans as “rookies” in the galactic interplay; the reactions to them were as realistic as their strivings for a greater role, and both ambition and conservatism led to things both good and bad. I like the way Shepard slipped between those lines, trying to make her (in my case) way.

The story was well mixed with the world (some more on that later on), each quest bringing some new knowledge, so at the end one felt pretty well informed about the surroundings one was moving in.

The reapers story is in a few ways a very standard story (old race comes back in cycles to destroy… Babylon 5, anyone?) but I like the twist that it’s machines, not organic races, that this time pose the threat. There’s lots of potential to go around with the Geth as a servant race (I loved the Quarians, by the way!), the ancient Protheans as the ones who lost; as well as their ultimate motivation which as of now remains a mystery to me, leaves still much to be discussed and has me craving more.

The world

Two words.

I like.

There’s an interesting mix of races; each of them with their own properties and some with really interesting ideas. I have difficulties to find one who stands out – maybe the Quanians; I really loved those Space Gypsies and hope to see more of them. Generally, I fell in love with some of the minor races, such as the Hanar or the Elcor; two races that seem to have very interesting concepts behind. The society, the strong influence of companies, falls in line with motives often used in science fiction, and that’s fine with me, as these things go. It makes sense, overall, although I cannot understand why no one ever really took the effort to try and find out about all this technology that they are using.

But then, the Protheans tried and we know what happened with them.

Well. That’s the main reason, anyhow, why my overly righteous Shepard started scanning the keepers like mad in an uncharacteristic bout of rebellion, as soon as she learned who actually had built the Citadel.

So world building: I’m sure we’ll see more of it but for now, well done!

The characters

I have already ranted on them and my love for them (and after a while of consideration I decided to romance Kaidan, not Liara, although the idea was interesting in itself), but here’s a small grain of salt to go with that soup: They could have been a little more fleshed out. They were interesting, but the dialogues in which one has learnt about them were relatively limited.

OK, granted, I’ve just come off Inquisition, and that’s an unfair comparison if there ever was one, but also if I compare it to DA Origins, the characters felt a little shallow.

Well. I hope I will see more of them.

So in general – good ideas, but a lot of missed opportunities.

The gameplay

I’m the worst judge in the world of that, given that I am always in so much trouble learning how to even operate the game, but after I got used to it it was fine. The fights were well manageable with a bit of practice, which, for the better gamers is probably a downside, but for me, who’s mainly in for the story and lacks the patience to try out which skill goes best with what, that was fine, totally.

The Mako was kind of annoying; if that thing has a physics engine, it knew little of it, and the control was a bit frizzy. Of course, one could always chose to ignore it and just roll over everything, but well. I don’t know. It annoyed the physicist in me. Just a little.

Oh and one more thing. I’d have preferred to have three companions with me, not two. Chosing was always so hard…

Well… so much for that.

And now, for something completely different

ME2

A rollercoaster ride – Sleepy Hollow, season 1

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Woah, what a ride.

Seriously, what a ride!

Yep, I finished the first season of Sleepy Hollow, and it truly has me baffled. That’s a way to go for a season finale.

But let’s take back a step and start from the beginning.

I know I’m tremendously late to jump on the bandwagon, and I’m pretty sure I will regret this, but on the other hand, better late than never.

Whoever said that the first season of Sleepy Hollow is a glorious thing was right. Although… although a thing or two worries me as well. I will get to that in a moment.

But first let me get rolling.

Spoilers, of course. You haven’t seen season 1, you probably don’t want to read this.

The Plot

First things first: Sleepy Hollow has a lot of really great ideas.

While the idea of someone out of their time being trapped in the modern world has been done before (Kate and Leopold, Doctor Who (which basically does nothing but draw on that idea ), diverse episodes of Star Trek and Babylon 5 to just name a few…) I’ve never seen it done quite as convincingly before. Or as consequently.

I like the mythology concept, the strong biblical nuances, that in this story, for some reason, feel more accurate than in other stories that draw heavily on biblical motives (such as for example National Treasure, although that’s probably a bad example for anything, but it’s the first thing that springs to mind , Buffy, or Supernatural ). It’s not zealous, but I feel it’s done with a little more effort and respect for religious concepts than the previously mentioned, and that in my book is a thumbs up.

Also the idea of making the headless horseman a rider of the apocalypse – cool thinking and storytelling there. The whole “hell comes to sleepy hollow” does have notions of Sunnydale, but well, I don’t mind, and the motives that Sleepy Hollow is using are really kind of new to me. So that’s good.

The idea of mixing the war of independence with the supernatural is really ludicrous, innovative and nice, creating an American kind of mythology without having to draw on any European precedent too much. I would like to see a little more connection with the American natives mythology (there was one hint at it, but it pretty much disappeared into the void again…), but I appreciate that the mysterious stuff is this time not coming from stuffy old Europe (and that’s a european girl talking…)

And then the pace. Oh heavens. I’ve heard the goal was to stay away as much as possible from filler episodes, (and the only filler episode I could think about is the one on Roanoke) and if that was the intention, kudos, you’ve done it. The pace is as fast as I’ve ever seen for a season 1 of any series and it leaves barely any time to breath. Way to get me hooked, folks.

But here’s unfortunately, also the grain of salt in my otherwise enthusiastic review. As much as I love the plot, as much as I appreciate the ideas the writers have thrown in, to me the pace feels a bit off at times. I’ll try to explain what I mean:

The authors are moving incredibly fast when it comes to revealing the secrets of the protagonists. The whole plot around the two Mills girls and what they saw in the woods – it was a great arc, I’ll admit, but that was such a pivotal thing for both their characters and their relationship and it’s now all in the open. End of season 1. Same for Jenny’s being obsessed with a demon. All of these things are fine in their own right, but my worry is a little – how do you go on? I see only three possibilities. One is that we continue on and on to reveal the terror of the Mills’ girls’ past (which will grow old at some point in time). Two could be that the focus moves to the personal dramas of other protagonists (which would take away spotlight from the Mills girls as a whole, which would be a shame). And three is – change the way of storytelling from revealing evil things from the past towards something else. (I hope it’s three, and I hope it’s good…)

Same with Henry. I loved the sin eater concept and his “maybe I am an angel” attitude; and I would have loved to see him some more in that role before he switches sides; but I’ve barely come to appreciate him and *bam* he’s evil. That blow would have hit harder if it had come later, I guess…

Andy is another example of someone of whom I would have liked to see more before he met his first demise… would have given him more three dimensional qualities; learning about him in parallel to him already being a creepy zombie kind of took a little fun out of it…

(I don’t mind one of those examples, but with Henry, Andy and Corbin that was a little too much for my taste).

Now for the next thing I’ll probably get stoned by half the fandom but here goes: I miss a few filler episodes. Not necessarily for breathing room, but because I feel that the rules of the world, the mythology behind it, the worldbuilding as such suffers from the pace. How does the limbo work? What are the rules? How is it connected with angels, demons, god, devil? Katrina being there would have been the perfect way to introduce this more, but I’m still pretty much in the dark there. How does she contact Ichabod? The sin eater concept – is there one? Are there many? How does the concept work? I would have liked a few more episodes on that before you take away that concept from my hands again, although I suspect we will learn more of Henry’s gift in season 2. As for witchcraft in general, I guess season 2 will help a little more as well, but well.

I think you get my drift.

Maybe it’s me having basically binge watched the series – that’s quite possible. But it feels a little like the pace of a movie being pushed into a series; and while a movie pace is fast and enjoyable and exciting, it sometimes lacks the depth I love about series watching.

But it’s only season 1. There’s still lots of room for more.

Phew. Having gotten that off my chest, I can get to the really great stuff:

The characters

Seriously, I have rarely seen such a great ensemble of threedimensional, interesting characters, loveable, yet with lots of rough edges. Their interplay is glorious, and quite seriously, I could spend a whole episode just watching them sort out the various issues that they have between them… They are truly the best thing about the show and I will give each and everyone here the credit that is due.

Abbie Mills:

A wonderful main character, an interesting mixture of a guarded, but warm heart. She’s got a tough shell, that one, lots of courage, and yet, much of that is the sort of bravado that hides quite a lot underneath. It’s glorious to see her slipping more deeply into the rollercoaster ride that is Sleepy Hollow. She deals with it in true Abbian way, marching forward in a mixture of righteousness, stubbornness and plain, old courage, taking the strange role fate has cast in her direction pretty much in her stride, just because she quickly realizes that she doesn’t really have a choice. And yet, in her interactions with the people she cares about (Jenny above all, but also Ichabod of course, as well as Corbin and to a lesser extent Andy Brooks) there we see another side of her – fiercely protective, terrified at times, vulnerable more often than she would have it, and yet, she’s never dominated by that. “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

That’s Nelson Mandela. But that’s clearly also the story of Abbie in Sleepy Hollow

Ichabod Crane:

I may have mentioned before that Tom Mison is eye candy, but to reduce him to that would really mean doing him a vast injustice. Because Ichabod Crane, fish-out-of-the-water; guy-distinctively-not-in-his-own-time is great in his own right. I have mentioned is body language before, and that’s really something he has down to an art; a portrayal of a man of that era, especially in contrast with the so much more relaxed, so much more informal time he’s landed in. He deals well, despite all things, but every time I do have the feeling he’s doing quite a little too well to be real, he sorts out some confused rant, messes up some social convention or just plain and simple shows how much remembers what he lost and how much that hurts, and then I’m on track again. He’s desperately trying to hold it together, and I can see some notion of “let’s keep going, because if I stop I may realize what actually is going on”. I wonder what happens as soon as he has to stop for some reason…

I’ve heard saying that Crane and Abbie are magical when together on the screen, and I absolutely second, third and fourth that (although that is probably not proper English) – the chemistry and interaction is amazing and among the best things I’ve seen on TV in a while…

I also like how he slowly opens up to others of that time, and still, Abbie seems to remain his anchor. Oh, and on the same note, I like that it’s platonic (for now?). A good, deep, true friendship trumps a shabby romance any day.

Jenny Mills:

The slightly-more-mad, slightly-more-ruthless, slightly-more-generally-pissed Mills sister. I can clearly see the shared family traits – the loyalty, the courage, the capability to do what it takes. And the smart talking. Oh the banter between the Mills’ sisters is just glorious. I love her sarcasm and attitude, the way she hides her good qualities under all that snark and badass anger. She’s just as much in over her head as Abby is, and she deals differently, and yet just as well. More of the type “lone wolf” than her sister, more outside than inside the system, but still. She’ll do what Abbie can’t or won’t, and we can all be glad she’s there.

I’d like to see more on screen with her and Ichabod; I think there’s potential for fun in abundance.

Also – good interaction with Irving…. I wonder what will come of that.

 

Frank Irving

Number two in the ranking of righteousness composed of Ichabod-Frank-Abbie-Jenny; and somehow a missing part in the chemistry. I wonder what will happen now that he’s probably out of the game, but he is a great and likeable character, with still a lot of potential to develop. I love the way he interacts with his family, and I was honestly surprised at how quickly he took to believing Abbie and Ichabod without question about all the strange things going on in Sleepy Hollow.

Almost a bit too quick to believe, at first glance, but all in all it fits and everyone can be glad he is around. He provides the sceptic voice of reason at times, and he should have his “oh no I have to ask, but I really, really rather wouldn’t”-look patented. More of that, and drag him deeper into witness business!

Macey

Seriously, I am running out of superlatives here, but whoever cooked up the character of Macey deserves an award. A totally non-victim handicapped little girl; proud and strong and at peace with herself, embracing life, just a kid but hard to scare (you will forgive the quote…)Please, please more of her. Please make her move to Sleepy Hollow, for whatever reason, and give us more.

Henry Parish

Wow, what a surprise. Wow, what an incredible creep. All the credits to John Noble, he totally, absolutely, utterly had me fooled. What a transformation in the final minutes of the season finale. Maybe one should have seen it coming (but I usually suck at plot divination), but I most certainly didn’t…

I loved him when he was a sin eater (actually, would have liked to see more of him – but more on that later), totally bought into “I do what I do because I can’t help it and I kind of hate it and it has made me a very strange man” and loved the cold cruelty and burning rage when he revealed himself to his parents. Superb acting.

Katrina Crane

Etheral and layered, a woman of secrets. I cannot help but feel that there is quite a lot that she kept from her dear husband, and her motive of just protecting him rings a bit thin to me. For now, she felt a little as being the plot giver, showing up when information was needed, but I have no clear view on her yet when she’s not locked away in limbo and fearing for her husband.

The scenes in the past show her to be proud, quite a minx actually. A self-conscious, independent and proud woman, with all the good and the bad that it entails.

I loved the moment of girlish joy when she was free from limbo (picking up the earth – hah, witches are magicians of the earth – “is this really real?”), and I look forward to season two (yes, I’ve read indications that it’s worse and she gets the worst of it, but I do try to keep an open mind!). She’s fighting an uphill battle, to be sure. To come between the dynamic duo of Abbie and Ichabod will be a challenge to say the least.

We will see.

All in all (because one is expected to provide a summary, I guess): I look forward to season 2, to learn about mysteries old and new (Abraham, Henry, Katrina, more of the Mills Girls, lots on Irving and please, please, Macey!), and I add my plea to that of so many others:

Having watched season 1, having seen the potential…

Please, give us season 3

A friendly face along the way – Spirit still does mass effect

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So now I’m a specter. An agent of the citadel, equipped with an authority I would have never dreamed of. Oh. And I have my own ship. Bit of a bummer that my old captain had to go to allow that, but well. The life if a soldier, I guess.

A few gaming evenings later, I have kind of adapted to the gameplay and even the steering of the landing vehicle isn’t so much of an annoyance any more. OK, granted, the physics engine (or not) of that thing still beats me – it somehow never quite reacts as I expect it to, but I can manage – yet on the whole I have found my pace in the game.

I also, I think, have found all of my potential companions (if the picture when I take on a mission is anything to go on…) and quite a number of worlds, inhabited and uninhabited.

But let’s stay on the companions for a moment, since this is what is really somewhat Bioware’s trademark – the great companions to share your adventure with.

Kaidan Alenko: The companion that has been with me for the longest time, basically since the beginning. One of the two human companions, and clearly meant to be the sympathetic one (Ashley having more rough edges). I like the biotics concept and the way how it’s both good and bad. Comes softly, sometimes temper shines through, but clearly more of a still water. Well. They run deep, they say. I’ll see if that holds true.

Ashley Williams: The other human, but definitely with more grit. Opinionated, strong, a good female character, I would say. A bit on the pro-earth side, though, I’m not sure yet how much that drives into the racist direction. Interesting facet though, and definitely adds to the color of the world. I wonder if she and Kaidan ever get into heated arguments. I could picture it.

Urdnot Wrex: My first thought, after having shared a few moments with him was “ah, here we have the muscle”. Well. Turns out we don’t. Or at least not only that. Apart from the fact that the concept of the krogans, just like the concept of many of the other races, is intriguing indeed, there is much more to that particular mercenary than meets the eye. A still water again, or better, a truth hidden behind an armor, a gun and a very war-like attitude. Definitely a character with potential.

Garrus Vakarian: Ah, the righteous police officer. Up to now, he’s the character that’s most prone to cliché, but I like him none the less. Seems to know very well what he wants, that one, and seems to be a good solid pillar that a confused Shepard can rely on once things turn to the rough side.

Liara T’Soni: My, she’s just a kid. No matter how old she really is, she’s just a kid. Good that she doesn’t seem to have a streak of her antagonistic mother in her. Her enthusiasm, and even her face, remind me a little of Dagna from Dragon Age origins; and she’s endearing in her own way, but also the kind of kid you somewhat wanna make keep to her room, because you just know she’s gonna be trouble

Tali’Zora na Rayya: My favourite, plain and simple. Space gypsies? I mean, how cool is that? I love the concept of the fleet, and everything that goes with it, and I love it to pieces. Very innovative, and the way she discovers the world throughout the game is fun indeed.

And so that’s the crowd. One might give a honorable mention to Joker, whose sass and attitude I really appreciate.

So again, Bioware does what Bioware does best – creating fabulous characters in a great world to play with.

So game on.