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        • Answers to Questions Posed in RT Podcast #421

          3 days ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          It's time for our regular segment in which @Gafgarian (AKA Jeremiah Palmer) provides answers to the burning questions left unanswered in each episode of the Rooster Teeth Podcast. Read on to get closure for She Wants the Tea – #421.


          Would AirPods try to sync to any iPhone around them if they are already synced?

          Say what you want about Apple's pricey wireless headphones, but no one can deny that they are a slick piece of technology. With all of Apple's arguable missteps over the last few years with the iPhone 7 and the latest MacBook Pro, I think I am with Burnie in thinking that the AirPods are the best piece of tech to come out of Cupertino in quite a bit. One of the reasons their tech is so easily admired is because it is smart.

          One such bit of intelligence is that there is a maximum proximity to a device required to attempt pairing. This means that pairing the AirPods isn't just about Bluetooth range; it is also about being close enough to the device for pairing to actually make sense. Additionally, if a set of AirPods is already synced with an iPhone, the user must press and hold the pair button on their case to reinitiate the pairing sequence. However, pairing with an iPhone will also instantly pair them with any other iCloud-enabled device, such as your Apple Watch or Mac, without you having to do anything at all. From there, the handoff of the audio is as simple as changing the relevant output settings on the device to point to the AirPods.

          What is the monetary equivalent for 300k miles on American Airlines?

          Airlines, in general, tend to be very quiet on the monetary value of the miles and rewards programs. This is likely for legal reasons but also because the air of uncertainty means that consumers are more prone to arbitrarily assign a greater value than is likely accurate. In truth, American Airlines’ (and all airline mileage programs’) values are dependent on several factors that can change on a daily, or in some cases minute-by-minute, basis. These factors can include the current state of the air travel market, the expected passenger load for a particular flight or route, the origin and destination airports, and more. Since these mileage exchange rates are controlled by the airlines themselves, there is a bottom line cost that they are willing to allow for the exchange. With the exception of the rare fixed value points, which are points worth an established or predetermined dollar value, point values can accurately be described as being equal to exactly what you would be willing to pay for a ticket at the time of cashing them in. In other words, if you are looking for a specific route and intend to fly a specific class with your miles, then that will drastically affect the current value of your points. Your willingness to be more flexible with flight times, routes, and seat assignments naturally adds more value to your points because it allows you to, theoretically, gravitate toward a better use of them. A popular series of articles on this very subject gave birth to the below diagram, which I believe provides an accurate rendering of the valuation of mileage points at any point in time.


          Using this diagram as a guide, we can use Gus's 300K miles as a reference point for valuation and see if we can come to a rough idea of the how the valuation of these points is not just a simple division problem of ticket cost over miles traveled, but rather a possibly telling example of our own differences of opinion concerning value.

          As background, there are a few facts we need to establish as baselines. First, we are all now @gus. Restrain your sudden urge to drop everything and just head home and turn your phone off for the next few days. Secondly, we are going to assume that we are all just basic American Airlines rewards members. This tier awards 5 points per every dollar spent on tickets. This means that our 300K miles is equivalent to roughly $60,000 spent on air travel. In reality, point specials and a higher member status likely reduces this dollar amount somewhat, but in order to have a stable baseline, lets just say $60,000 is the initial "value" of our 300K points. Lastly, there is some variable that could be introduced around redeemable miles being accrued based on mileage flown versus purchased but, again, in the interest of creating a baseline valuation as well as the fact that as of 2016 American Airlines has modified their accrual program to be based fully off of the amount spent, we are going to ignore that as well.

          Now that we are all in agreement that an easy base valuation of our accrued miles is roughly $60,000, we can review the hypothetical cost of trips and base our mileage valuation off of our willingness to spend that kind of "equivalent" money. For example, let's assume a flight from Austin to LA would run you 50K miles or $500. Based on our previous calculation, your per-mile value should be around 20 cents per mile, but some quick math tells us that this trip from Austin to LA would reduce the value of those 50K miles to a mere penny. This is a 95% loss in valuation! Now let's take an international flight as an example. Let's say you, as Gus, need to waste some time "reviewing" the London venue for RTX. Let's assume that your flight from Austin to London can cost you $2,000 or 100K miles. The same quick math now tells us that this updated valuation is around 2 cents per mile. While significantly better than your trip to LA, it is still a far cry from the accrual valuation. While unsurprising, it is still crazy just how much of a loss we take on the redemption of the miles.

          With these two valuation examples we can move on to the point of all of these details to decide what our own valuations are. Ultimately, your valuation of these tickets may be very different from the real Cheese Master and it is completely dependent on whether you would take the trip if miles weren't in the picture. Essentially, if you are okay paying $2,000 for the trip from Austin to London, then you can confidently say that the value of your miles is roughly 2 cents per mile. On the other hand, if you are just as willing to take the $500 trip from Austin to LA, then your miles are actually worth only 1 cent. Personally, I know from planning a trip to RTX Austin that a flight from NYC to Austin will run me, on average, around $400. Given that it is a domestic flight, we can estimate a mileage valuation of slightly below a penny. Knowing what I know now, I would almost want to save my mileage for other uses like class upgrades, long international flights, or a bid to be the first to fly in a brand new plane.

          Since we all should have a good idea of the economics behind airline rewards programs, I'm interested to know which way you would go. Would you take them all because it is better than spending cold hard cash or are you a mile hoarder?

          Does Project Red actually contribute to AIDS research?

          It does. Per the licensing agreement, products and brands leveraging the Project Red brand are required to give up to 50% of their profits to Project Red. However, it should be pointed out that not only does the exact amount of contribution differ based on the brand and company contributing due to differences in license agreements, but that Project Red is not a non-profit organization. Instead, they are often pointed to as an example of ethical consumerism since they are claiming to combine humanitarian efforts with running a profitable business. Despite criticisms around this model, they claim to have raised $465 million and affected over 90 million people. Additional criticisms of the business have pointed to the fact that many of their largest brands tend to spend far more in advertising their "Red" products than those products actually generate for the Global Fund. Those critics are quick to point to the idea that had companies like Apple, Gap, or Nike just donated their advertising budget outright, the fund would be in a much better place.

          Does Susan G. Komen charity contribute at all?

          First, anyone who has an interest, or intention, in contributing to a charity, I recommend they spend some time on Charity Navigator. This site does a fantastic job of breaking down thousands of nonprofit organizations to essentially vet and rank them on various financial criteria. Using this site we can quickly see that the Susan G. Komen foundation does not actually look that bad at the moment. However, it is important to point out that this ranking is what the current state of the charitable foundation. The rumors surrounding the Komen foundation's possible corruption are actually a few years old and, while the organization has begun to finally drop some of the negative stigma around their name, it is obviously not completely behind them.

          The reason for this reputation stems largely from the organization's original founder, Nancy Goodman Brinker, who in 2012 announced that she would be stepping down as CEO, only to be kept in the position and suddenly claim a $684K annual salary. Additional controversy quickly followed as reports about ties to various pharmaceutical companies and government lobbyists further tainted the non-profit's image. As of 2015, Brinker had stepped down to a purely advisory and unpaid role, with the new CEO, Judith A. Salerno, claiming a much more modest $200K salary.

          What does "allow it" mean?

          There is some debate on this and it apparently depends on what part of London you happen to hail from, but, for the most part, this would be used as a synonym to "just leave it alone" or "don't worry about it."

          Slang from every state?

          There have actually been several articles written on this subject and, naturally, not all of them agree. However, this one from Slate is definitely one of the more comprehensive, and it also comes with a nifty infographic. While it may not always be considered "slang," it is probably the most relevant interpretation of the question asked on the podcast. For the record, Nebraska would be "runza" which is apparently a pastry of some sort? I've never heard of it.


          Do you agree with the choice for your state's word?

          Where are horses from?

          Fossil evidence suggests that the ancestors of the modern horse evolved in North America and traveled to other parts of the world via land bridges which existed at the time. Despite this concentration, geological shifts and a changing planet actually killed all of the North and South American horses off near the end of the Pleistocene epoch. It would take roughly 14,000 years before horses would be once again seen on this continent when Columbus made landfall with horses on board.

          Interestingly, because of this narrow descendant line, every thoroughbred horse can be traced back to only three Arabian stallions that continued the line by mating with European mares.

          Where are cats from?

          Originally thought to have originated specifically in ancient Egypt because of the obvious affinity for the creatures, recent archaeological and DNA evidence has tracked all domesticated cats to the Felis silvestris, also known as the wildcat. This smaller species of feline has existed for millennia across much of the Near East. While it is difficult to lock down Egypt as the Near East territory which saw the final evolution of "Fluffy," it is certain that the wildcat's own domestication began around 7500 BCE in various parts of the fertile crescent as man began to rely more on farming, rather than hunting, as a source of food. The domestication of the wildcat was initially intended to control the rodent population in and around the fields and food stores of the farmers. However, the domesticated cat quickly became somewhat of a status symbol, i.e., if you had a cat, that meant you had grain to protect and therefore either had money to buy it or land to grow it, both of which meant you were definitely "well off." It was this status symbol, and their connection to the gods of that time, that led noble Egyptian households to mummify their feline friends.

          Michael chugging BBQ sauce?

          Watch it here.

          Hamburger roulette video?

          Watch it here.

          Can you breathe in your dishwasher and would it work as a shower?

          We know from previous answer posts that a dishwasher’s water temperature is typically somewhere around 120 degrees or, on the “sanitize” setting, as high as 150 degrees. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), prolonged exposure of 120-degree water and less than five minutes under 140-degree water will lead to third-degree burns. Additionally, anyone who has ever taken a vacation and forgotten to run the load of dirty dishes will tell you that while dishwashers may not be 100% airtight, they do tend to have a pretty strong seal. However, assuming that you were able to ensure that enough breathable oxygen were available, as well as a way to vent your exhaled carbon dioxide, you could limit the water to a reasonable 105-degrees, and you managed to remove all of the racks and shelving without damaging the water sprayers, then… sure.

          Since this is the internet and it is filled with people of… questionable... intelligence who are typically motivated by alcohol, here is a DIY video.

          Note: In honor of Philly D guest starring on MDB, “Don’t Be Stupid, Stupid!” Do not try this at home.

          Are you allowed to send photos of the inside of cargo space on airlines as ground crew?

          This is largely left up to the discretion of the airlines, as the FAA is more concerned with pictures taken inside the actual terminals. However, most of the airlines I was able to review have a consistent "no photos of employee-only areas." This would include the inside of a plane's cargo area, in and around the plane, as well as any behind the scenes employee lounges.

          American luchador Mexican wrestler posing as Trump supporter?

          American luchador Sam Adonis has spent the last several months carrying a Trump-adorned American Flag to the ring for his Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling matches. When Reuters interviewed him, he made it clear that while he is not a direct Trump supporter, he does enjoy the fact that, for the moment at least, Trump's controversial presidency IS putting a bit more money in the young luchador's pocket.


        • Fan Art Friday #60: RT Logo by gem_scheltema

          1 week ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          It’s time for our weekly look at the best Rooster Teeth fan art from our community, curated by the fine folks at BIGBITE!

          This week’s featured artist is Georgia Martin, AKA @gem_scheltema, for this Rooster Teeth logo made out of Double Gold RT Box… boxes.  


          Georgia lives in the eastern Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia, and enjoys reviewing Double Gold RT Boxes each month. To create this piece, she calculated the size she wanted the logo to be, then created a template on regular paper. Next, she took several RT Boxes and figured out where she wanted parts of them to reside on the logo, then cut the pieces out of the boxes and joined them together. The end result is almost 80 cm (about 31 inches) wide and just over 50 cm (about 20 inches) tall. When all was said and done, this project took roughly 18 hours to complete.


          Want a chance to be featured in future Fan Art Fridays? Head over to the Fan Art Friday thread in the Art forum to find out how!

        • Outsiders #1: Sleep Paralysis

          1 week ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          By @charlesaustin

          Outsiders is a series that explores uncommon conditions, unseen subcultures, and unusual interests.


          When Burnie Burns was about 10 years old, he awoke in the night, paralyzed and haunted by the feeling that some shadowy figure was watching him from outside his peripheral vision. This weird sensation has stuck with him throughout his life, happening once or twice a year. But maybe the weirdest thing about it is that it’s not weird at all.

          Burnie’s condition is known as sleep paralysis. It’s thought to affect 6–8% of people on a recurring basis, and as many as 60% of people will experience it at one point in their lives. In the simplest terms, it’s a result of waking up while your body is still in a REM sleep cycle. When you’re sleeping, this paralysis stops you from kicking and thrashing during dreams; when you wake up in this state, the fact that you can’t move or speak often leads to panic and terror. Despite the alarming sensations, though, sleep paralysis is really no stranger than sleepwalking and is likely as old as sleep itself.


          Descriptions of the condition exist across cultures and centuries. The painting above, Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare, is widely interpreted to be a depiction of sleep paralysis hallucinations. This painting dates to 1781. A few decades earlier, in 1755, the famous lexicographer Samuel Johnson published his Dictionary of the English Language, which included the first-ever definition of the word “nightmare.” In this original coinage, the word didn’t describe a bad dream as we think of it today, but a malevolent spirit. A “mare” or “mara,” as Johnson defined it, was a spirit that, in mythology, “was related to torment or suffocate sleepers. ... A morbid oppression in the night resembling the pressure of weight upon the breast.” In a linguistic sense, sleep paralysis is the original nightmare.

          So English speakers have recognized the condition since at least the 1700s, if only through the lens of folklore and descriptions of odd experiences. The story is similar across the world, and countless cultures each have their own folkloric culprits. In Europe, some people experience sleep paralysis as a female horse pinning them down. The Mesopotamian Incubus and Succubus pin their subjects down and, sometimes, have sex with them. Likewise the Apuku in Surinam. The Japanese have the kanashibari, the Ethiopians the zar, the Italians the pandafeche, and the Inuit the sensation of aqtuqsinniq.

          But just because so many cultures have ways of describing the same phenomenon doesn’t mean they all view it the same way. There’s research to show that cultural ideas about sleep paralysis can shape how people report their experiences of it. In Egypt, where the condition is viewed with dread, half of subjects in a study reported a fear of death from sleep paralysis. In Denmark, where the condition is viewed with less unease, the number was only 17%. But what’s even more interesting is that Egyptians reported having episodes three times as frequently. Culture, then, may even shape our how often we experience episodes, or at least what we determine to be one.

          Our experience of sleep paralysis, then, doesn’t just tell us about how our bodies and brains work. The way we interpret it says something about ourselves. The loss of control, the hallucinations, this is the vivid stuff of culture. There aren’t many paintings inspired by sleep apnea. A herniated disc doesn’t tell us much about who we are. But there’s something more revealing about sleep paralysis.

          What do the experiences of Burnie and other Rooster Teeth staffers say about them? Honestly, mostly that they’re self-aware about the condition and they’ve read up on the literature. Lindsay Jones told me:

          “Researching sleep paralysis really helped me understand my experiences and the experiences of others. It's fascinating that the human brain is capable of conjuring these images and sensations with such strength that they feel real. Even more fascinating is the fact that these experiences are almost identical and span across different cultures and generations.”

          Luis Medina had a similar take. “When I was a kid, I used to think of it as a visit from the ‘Shadow Man,’ a tall figure with a wide-brimmed black hat who would visit me every few years and incapacitate me. It was only in college that I realized this was a shared phenomenon and that other people had even used the same name for this illusionary being.”

          Essentially, these days, neurobiological explanations steer us away from folkloric explanations and toward a shared understanding of the condition. It’s more, “I’m not alone, because other people experience this,” and less, “I’m not alone, because there is literally an Incubus crouched on my body trying to have sex with me.”

          Still, being aware of the condition doesn’t necessarily strip away the terror of it. Lindsay said, “My paralysis includes feeling like you're slowly suffocating. So, every time I experience it, I genuinely fear for my life,” and compared the condition to “[feeling] like you're trapped in a malfunctioning body.”

          Becca’s security-camera footage captured her screams from a sleep-paralysis episode (it gets good around :40).

          Becca Frasier backed up Lindsay’s assertion that it makes you feel like the end is near. She described one particularly bad episode: “I had to lie in my bed, physically paralyzed and frozen in fear, while this mental monster writhed around on top of me. I genuinely thought I was going to die. Finally, I broke through and started screaming.”

          Luis said, “Besides the physical experience of feeling awake in a sleeping body, there's the feeling of dread and anxiousness that comes from being vulnerable. I think the mind gives form to that feeling in order to justify it.”

          There is something paradoxical about an experience that makes you feel terrified and alone, and yet at the same time teaches you that you’re not alone, that you’re experiencing something that’s been consistent throughout human history. (And fun fact: it’s likely that animals experience it too).

          Speaking of not being alone, it was a theme among the Rooster Teeth staff that having loved ones around lessens the terror of an attack. Becca experienced her worst episode while her husband was out of town, adding, “I'm sure the fact that I was alone made me even more vulnerable.”

          As for Burnie, he told me, “I have found the only thing that can break it is when someone touches me. So, I guess I need to continue sleeping with people on a regular basis.”


        • Answers to Questions Posed in RT Podcast #420

          1 week ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          It's time for our regular segment in which @Gafgarian (AKA Jeremiah Palmer) provides answers to the burning questions left unanswered in each episode of the Rooster Teeth Podcast. Read on to get closure for Girls Don’t… Have… Wet… Dreams – #420.


          Is Australia upside down?

          Yep. As in, "I am right side up, Australia is directly beneath me (on the other side of the planet of course), therefore, they are upside down... in relation to me of course." It is that last bit which frustrates the "Flat-Earthers" of the world. But this question isn't about the idiocy of a Flat-Earth theory, it is about antipodes and their relation to you. An antipode is the "direct opposite of something else." In this case, your antipode is the point directly opposite you on the Earth. Here is a handy website that lets you find the antipode for any point on the globe. Let's take Austin, TX as an example.


          The site tells us that the antipode of Austin is actually pretty much right in the middle of the Indian Ocean. This means that if @burnie sent a friend (or @bgibbles) to that exact GPS coordinate to float in the ocean for a bit, Blaine would be floating directly "beneath" Burnie, relative to his position in Austin. By comparison, if @Gavino were to be hanging out in the UK during this time, both Burnie and Blaine would be perpendicular, or "lying on their sides," relative to him. Roughly, the UK isn't an exact 90-degree perpendicular to Austin and the Indian Ocean, but hopefully you get the point.

          If you are still having issues, think about three ants standing on a basketball. Two are sitting at the line intersections along the ball's "equator," directly opposite each other. These two ants are antipodes and are Burnie and Blaine. To Gavin, sitting on top of the ball at its "North Pole," so to speak, both Burnie and Blaine are hanging out on the ball sideways while Gavin is "right side up." Now imagine you are Burnie the ant, Blaine is directly beneath you, upside-down, and Gavin is the sideways one. Blaine the Ant has nearly the same observation but with Burnie as the "gravity-defying-one."

          Perhaps the easiest way to recognize this very real observation, while simultaneously adding to the necessary complexity of the Flat-Earther's flat Earth explanation, is that antipodes that are different north/south hemispheres, which most would be, will also see a "reversed" image of the moon. This concept may be a bit more difficult to comprehend without a graphic, so I've found, and added, on below. Honestly, for some reason, this never even occurred to me but it makes total sense. Since your concept of "right-side-up" is completely relative to you, your concept of what the moon's appearance would also be relative to your vantage point.

          Additionally, the closer you live to the Tropics of Capricorn or Cancer, the more you and your compatriots also living in those areas would agree on the appearance of the moon. This is because these points match the axis tilt of the Earth and essentially cause your position on Earth, relative to the moon's orbit, to be relatively parallel.

          As for the age-old question of "Why don't Australians just fall off if they are upside down?" I would reply, “Why aren't you falling off? You aren't on ‘top’ of the world right now. How can ships sail through the Panama Canal without listing terribly to one side? Why hasn't the ocean's water in the southern hemisphere fallen from the Earth and floated into space yet?”

          I think the idea that this question is for some reason only ever applied to humans in the southern hemisphere is testament to the arrogance of humanity. Let's forget about the MILLIONS of other things that would be affected if gravity just didn't apply below the equator. The point is, they, and everything else "down" there, stays put because the gravity affecting it is from our planet, and while it may seem to constantly pull you "down," this is only relative to you. To the Australian, gravity is actually pulling you "up." Right? LOL.


          Perhaps the most mind-boggling observation, for me, that came from researching this is the realization that as you travel south from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere, the orientation of the phases of the moon have to change as well. Since the moon itself appears “upside-down” relative to my current position, a person standing on the equator would, naturally, have to see the mid-point observations. This causes the moon’s phases to appear perpendicular to the horizon.  Additionally, best I can tell, while the moon phase names have been transferred to the southern hemisphere, they are reversed, appearing right-to-left. Literally blown away by all of this. Am I alone in this?


          How long can a human body hang upside down before you die?

          There doesn't actually seem to be a consensus for this one. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is a general lack of data since there have not been a large amount of deaths, proportionally speaking, caused by hanging upside down, also known as inverse suspension. While the adverse affects on your health are many and include the potential for brain aneurysms, hemorrhaging, and other lovely maladies related to your brain and it essentially "popping" in some way due to the increased blood pressure, most deaths from inverse suspension are usually caused by asphyxiation.

          Doctors believe that the pull of gravity on your internal organs actually ends up compressing your diaphragm over time, making it extremely difficult to breathe. This lower amount of oxygen intake, combined with a poorer blood circulation due to the many systems that are typically aided by gravity to move your blood and its oxygen loaded cells through your body, lead to asphyxiation and death. Another notable cause of death, though with a much more random victim count, is heart failure. Because the circulatory system is now fighting against gravity, the heart is forced to pump harder and faster in order to keep the blood flowing to the extremities. This can quickly lead to undue stress on the organ, causing it to give out. This is especially true in the case of older people or those who already suffer from some form of cardiac stress.

          Regarding the answer specifically, most recorded cases of death put the time at somewhere between 15 and 30 hours, depending on various factors including your age, physical shape, exact position of suspension, height, weight, gender, previous medical conditions, and many more.

          Gavin's shooting star meme?

          As a bonus, the creator, Jordan Bailey, recently released one for Burnie as well. It leverages a quality fail which the entire RT community has come to appreciate by now.

          Is "digitigrade" a real thing?

          It totally is and now we all owe Jessica for teaching us a new word. However, it is important to note that the actual definition of digitigrade refers to the way in which the animal walks, or their locomotion, and not necessarily their leg shape. That said, all digitigrade animals do have the turned-backward "knee." It is much more likely, though, that Jessica was referring to digitigrade posture. This is essentially the same thing and, depending on what your source is, you'd likely see many of the same details; however, the inclusion of the word “posture” typically has a connotation that attaches it to the stance of the animal and somewhat distances its definition from their form of locomotion. For example, the use of digitigrade posture will sometimes be seen among Furries or cosplaying since they obviously can't change their locomotion, but they can make their posture and general look have the appearance of digitigrade locomotion.

          Digitigrade locomotion is called as such because of the focus of the digits during movement. In other words, digitigrade animals will walk on their toes. This movement and posture allows for elevated visibility as well as longer strides, aiding in maneuverability and speed. Humans, by comparison, are plantigrade, or heel-to-toe walkers. This form of locomotion aids us in endurance and balance, but we sacrifice a bit of speed. The third option of unguligrades refers to hoof walkers and are essentially tip-toeing constantly. This gives them a definitive spring in their step, which makes sense given that nearly all unguligrades are prey, rather than predator, and need to be able leap away quickly. However they sacrifice balance for this swiftness. Scientifically speaking, it is all a bit of give and take, with each animal's evolved locomotion form supporting their continued survival in some way.

          What is the biggest single feather?

          The biggest single feather in history was a tail feather from a rare, purposely bred, ornamental chicken breed that was on display during a bird show in Japan in 1972. The bird's tail feather measured 34.75 feet long. However, the longest naturally occurring wild bird feather comes from the tail feathers of the Crested Argus Pheasant, which can reach lengths of nearly 6 feet.

          What is Pétanque?

          Pétanque is a French bowling game that is played by rolling metal balls, or “boules,” toward a smaller wooden ball, or “jack.” Points are awarded to those closest to the jack at the end of the round. This is extremely similar to the English game of Bowls as well as the Italian game of Bocce. All three of which can trace their origination to a very similar game played during the later days of the Roman Empire. There are slight variances between the three, and each have their own respective "fanboy" following who are quick to argue the virtues of their preferred version over the other two, despite the gameplay being nearly identical.

          I for one prefer Bocce, so you can take your Pétanque circles and shove them! :P

          Kegeln is German for Skittles?

          Certainly is! Kegeln, or Kegel, is a nine-pin bowling game that is played in parts of Australia. It is closely related to American 10-pin bowling or the British game of Skittles, which began as an ancient lawn game and has since evolved into a sport with many variations, including a very close relation to the game of Bowls discussed above.

          Is Girl Talk a scientist?

          Girl Talk, also known as Gregg Michael Gillis, was studying biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University with a focus on tissue engineering prior to quitting school – bio-engineering – in mid-2007 to pursue his musical career full time. His albums have won numerous awards, a fact which is made more impressive by the idea that all of the music are mashups of somebody else's work.

          Either way, I find it particularly useful for concentrating on work as the perfect blend of recognizable, but not distracting, background noise. Love it.

          Why are headbutts an issue in the UK?

          The British Board of Film Classification, or BBFC, is far less forgiving when it comes to violence than our own MPAA. While their practices have lightened somewhat in recent years, opting to go the route of bumping up a film's rating as opposed to demanding a scene cut, most production studios still choose to perform the cut anyway in order to preserve the lower rating. There are some parallels to the MPAA's decisions regarding ratings and why they have been applied, particularly involving gore and/or nudity; however, it seems that headbutts are one action which has not been taken so lightly.

          This is because, in the mid-1990s, the BBFC determined that while other actions, like chasing down a rogue Russian working for a traitorous MI6 agent with a tank, can be brushed off with a higher film rating, easily reproducible actions, like a simple headbutt, are wholly unacceptable. Headbutts have not been the only actions that have warranted complete censorship. The internal ruling determined that ANY dangerous action that can easily be imitated by viewers should be censored. This include neck-breaking, curb stomps, ear-claps, and visual/verbal references to suicide. This last point is typically very case-by-case since occasionally a movie comes along that uses suicide as a main plot point. Rarely does this happen with headbutts, though Van Damme is working again, so you never know.

          No shortage of films have gotten the BBFC treatment. Notable films to have suffered this censorship include Kill Bill, Spiderman 2, Shrek 2, and even Mulan, because apparently Disney is more hardcore than the Brits.

          How much does data weigh?

          There was a time when this number fluctuated quite a bit more and with actual disk drives, but this number can still have some variance depending on the quality of the drive. This is because a hard disk's density is measured by the amount of bits of data it can store in a square inch, known as “areal density.” As technology has become more efficient, this number has predictably increased, which naturally makes the actual "weight" of the data lower. However, this method of figuring out the weight is a bit misleading since it is actually the weight of potential data. In truth, with this method, there does not need to be any data on the disk drive at all in order to get to the correct answer. This means that all of the math associated with areal density, for the purposes of this conversation, is not important. For the record, the potential weight of data for modern disk drives is around .5 micrograms, depending on the drive's specs.

          Moving on.

          In order to get to the bottom of this question, we need to know what "data" actually is. Without getting overly technical, I think we are all aware that data is stored in binary, or a sequence of true/false logic gates, that when aggregated give us a translatable data stream. Modern storage solutions like solid-state drives (SSD) store data using a "floating electron gate." What this means is that an electron floats along this toggle, providing either a charged (0), or not-charged (1) state, and therefore providing a storage medium and solution for larger data sets. What this means, for the purposes of our discussion, is that every bit of data is essentially equal to the weight of its electrons.

          This number is determined by various factors, but rough estimates have placed the count as high as 100K in a single bit. A single electron's weight is roughly 9.10938215 × 10−31 kg. Even with these high numbers, a single bit would weigh approximately 400 femtograms, or 0.0000000000004 grams. Obviously this number is infinitesimal when attempting to measure small amounts of data; however, based on these calculations and additional VERY rough estimates, the amount of data stored across the entire internet is probably something like 200 grams. This would be just shy of half a pound and only slightly more than an iPhone.

          How much sushi would give you mercury poisoning?

          This is difficult to say. While it is absolutely true that high and frequent consumption of fish can lead you to become as "mad as a hatter," there are far too many variables involved to attempt an accurate estimate of what would be "too much." What I can tell you is that bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, swordfish, and king mackerel naturally contain some of the highest levels of mercury in the animal kingdom and these numbers can be exponentially higher depending on where the fish are sourced and the potential pollutants there. A 2015 study by the FDA claimed that a daily diet of sushi absolutely does put one at risk of developing mercury poisoning, and if you begin to experience symptoms such as drastic mood swings, paranoia, nervousness, insomnia, headaches, muscle spasms, etc. you should contact your doctor immediately.

          Are wet dreams more "liquidy"?

          They can be. There have actually been very few studies done on the details of nocturnal emissions during the act, for obvious reasons. The difficulty surrounding collecting a viable specimen makes studying the consistency of the ejaculate difficult. However, just based on what we know of the bulbourethral (or Cowper's) and prostate glands, the answer is confidently a "sometimes."

          The Cowper's glands are responsible for roughly 5% of the seminal fluid's makeup. This secretion is a clear, watery liquid that is used for lubrication and cleansing of the urethra. This fluid is sometimes known by the moniker “precum,” or “pre-ejaculate.” Conversely, the prostate gland creates the majority of an ejaculation's volume. It is this milky-white fluid which is typically associated with a male orgasm, and it is this very obvious difference between these two fluids which can occasionally lead to wet dreams being more "liquid" than an... intended emission.

          As the exact causes of nocturnal emissions are still somewhat of a mystery, with no shortage of random theories on the subject, it is difficult to say with any certainty what would cause the higher volume of Cowper's-gland-produced seminal fluid when asleep. This is further compounded by the fact that there is little consistency between the experiences of each man, and, in truth, very little in regards to the experiences of one man from one night to the next.

          Do girls have wet dreams?

          Er.. Yes-ish. If you are going into this question expecting me to tell you that there is documented evidence of a woman squirting during a dream-inspired orgasm, then I can say that, depending on what kind of crises you are willing to allow Google to believe you are going through, you may at least find anecdotal evidence of this. However, I should point out that not only can I not verify this story, I can't even verify that the one telling it is a female. Based on legitimate scientific studies in this area, of which there are even fewer than those regarding a male's nighttime experiences, the consensus is that women do in fact experience wet dreams in the sense that they have an increase in vaginal lubrication that may, or may not, culminate in an orgasm. There is a bit of a divide among the relevant community regarding the necessity of orgasm to constitute a "wet dream" and, since the majority lean toward this requirement, it leads to opinionated discussion about the frequency, or reality, of a female's wet dream. This is because very few women have reported having an orgasm while dreaming; typically, as was mentioned on the podcast, they are awoken prior to the climax and any orgasm from that point cannot be considered as part of a "dream state."

          Google Maps solar panel tool?

          Here it is. Pretty neat little application. Not the most economical option for me personally, and not just because I rent. What about you?

        • Fan Art Friday #59: Slow Mo Guys Poster by AeroJett

          2 weeks ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          It’s time for our weekly look at the best Rooster Teeth fan art from our community, curated by the fine folks at BIGBITE!

          This week’s featured artist is Jett Furr, AKA @AeroJett, for this Slow Mo Guys poster.


          Jett lives in North Carolina, where he works at a fitness center and freelances as a graphic designer and artist on the side. Drawing inspiration from the 25 Airbag Rainbow Explosion video, he made Gavin and Dan’s silhouettes in Illustrator, then painted them, the background, and the Slow Mo Guys logo in Sketchbook Pro.


          Want a chance to be featured in future Fan Art Fridays? Head over to the Fan Art Friday thread in the Art forum to find out how!

        • Martha Stewart Gaming: How to Make a Steam Account

          2 weeks ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          By @charlesaustin


          Hello, I am long-time Rooster Teeth fan and frequent Poppycock contributor Martha Stewart. You probably know me from the TV show Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, which stars Snoop Dogg, a middle-aged celeb even your mom can love, and me, a convicted felon.

          But I do a lot more than cash checks for hanging out with famous rappers. Your parents probably know me from my magazine Martha Stewart Living, where I teach readers how to host a holiday dinner party and other shit like that. But today I would like to announce Martha Stewart Gaming. My new lifestyle magazine will teach gamers exactly how to game, with neat tips on everything from choosing the right scented candle for your gaming experience to using fresh, seasonal ingredients to cook every recipe in Stardew Valley.

          Get a preview of Martha Stewart Gaming with this handy guide to making your very own Steam account.

          Week 1

          • Go to your neighborhood boutique stationery store and buy a custom monogram-print notepad, four fountain pens (one black, one red, and two for backup!), and a 100-count box of envelopes.

          • Go to the post office and purchase a book of Forever stamps.

          • Using your custom monogrammed stationery, write up a list of all your friends.

          • Now write up a list of all of your enemies. Use a red fountain pen, or blood drawn from your index finger.

          • Set aside all of your materials in the top drawer of your IKEA high-gloss white BESTÅ BURS drawer unit.

          Week 2

          • Navigate your web browser to the Steam website.

          • Locate the “Install Steam” button in the top right corner. You’ll want to come back to this half a month from now when it’s time to make your account. Close the browser.

          • Go to your local furniture resale shop and find the nicest antique dining table they have. You will need this for your gaming rig.

          • On your way to the store, hand out scented candles to every stranger you meet. Perhaps they will want to be friends with you on Steam, on the glorious day when you make your account.

          • Find these items for your gaming rig as well: one (1) Razer DeathAdder Chroma USB infrared mouse; one (1) Razer RZ03-01701700-R3U1 BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth USB wired keyboard; one (1) handcrafted open-cutwork linen tablecloth imported from Italy; one (1) festive seasonal centerpiece with candles and fresh seasonal produce.

          • Fill a glass decanter with your favorite bottle of French Merlot. Place it on the table and do not drink it. Assemble your gaming rig in a low-traffic area of your home.

          • Make sure your keyboard works by clicking every key, in this order: ` 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - = q w e r t y u i o p [ ] \ a s d f g h j k l ; ‘ z x c v b n m , . / Please also click the other keys that I can’t get to appear here.


          By the end of Week 2, your gaming rig should look like this, but with a computer.

          Week 3

          • Every morning you wake up this week, visualize gaming with your friends. This will motivate you to follow through with your goals.

          • Retrieve your lists of friends and enemies from Week 1. Using your custom monogrammed stationery, write and mail a letter of intent to every one of your friends and enemies.

          • To your friends, tell them that you would like to request their consent to game with them in two weeks’ time. You will soon be making a Steam account.

          • To your enemies, let them know that you shall crush them in CS: GO without any mercy, and they may consider this their formal warning. Their next warning will be a no-scope headshot.

          • Navigate your web browser to the Steam website. Yes. Soon enough it will be time. But for now, close your web browser.

          Week 4

          • Navigate your web browser to the Steam website. Click “Install Steam” and then “Install Steam Now.” It begins.

          • Make phone calls to your dry cleaner, your gardener, your mailman, your chauffeur, your maid, your dog walker, your nanny, and your Wall Street pals you do insider trading with. Let them know that you are about to install Steam and they are welcome to game with you at any time.

          • On the Steam website, click login, even though you do not have an account.

          • Then click “Join Steam.”

          • Then enter all of the shit that it asks for and click “Create My Account.”

          • Note: When it says “Create My Account,” it means “Create Your Account,” as in you, not as in me, Martha Stewart.

          • Your account should have a clever name that lets people know that you are funnier and smarter but also nerdier than them. For instance my account name is Mothra Stewart.

          • Now that you have a Steam account, you may return to your porn tabs. Do not actually play a game on Steam until every single one of your friends and enemies has responded to the letters you sent. It’s only polite.

        • Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Persona Before You Play Persona 5

          3 weeks ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          By @cbreault


          The acclaimed Japanese RPG series Persona is returning on April 4, which means it’s high time to dive back into a world of high school drama, high school monster breeding, and high school murder. But are you truly prepared? If you haven’t looked at a calendar recently, you might not have noticed that nearly nine years have passed since Persona 4 came out. Summers have come and gone. Your friends have grown old and died. Your once beautiful body has withered and twisted like a rotting branch. You’ve forgotten everything you once knew about playing Persona.  

          Not to worry! If you read our refresher on the core concepts of the Persona series, you’ll hit Persona 5’s Shujin High ready to max out your Confidants and crush the Fusion charts on Day 1.


          A Persona—short for Personal Pokémon—is a mythology-themed pocket monster that the player finds in dungeons and then levels up and cross-breeds into more powerful forms. Unlike Pokémon, which are stupid cartoons for kids, Personas are mature monsters with big dicks, boobs, and vaginas drawn all over them. That link isn’t safe for work—and neither is Persona, pal.


          While other RPGs let you woo characters by complimenting them repeatedly or giving them copper ore 30 times, the Persona games take a more realistic approach, basing relationships on a shared interest in collectible cards. In modern Persona games, you should always take care to equip a Persona with a tarot that matches your companion’s tarot before speaking to them. (If you’re not familiar with tarot, they’re a deck of cards that medieval courtesans made to represent the things that were most likely to kill them, such as The Magician or The Chariot.)

          Dialogue Choices

          We’re all familiar with the dramatic dialogue options of other RPGs, such as Mass Effect’s famous Paragon/Renegade choices and Dragon Age’s Rich Dad/Poor Dad system. Persona doesn’t have any kind of cool dialogue gimmick, so it’s best to play the game without talking to anyone.

          Japanese Hip-hop

          When Biggie said “you never thought that hip-hop would take it this far,” this is exactly what he was talking about: Japanese MC Lotus Juice rapping stuff like “Carrying AK-47, 24/7 / But you've gotta live it persecuted by heaven” over remixed JRPG battle music while high schoolers fight a giant stripper with no face.

          Silent Protagonists

          The protagonist of every Persona game is silent, which means he’s the only teenager who doesn’t have the voice of a 30- to 55-year-old actor trying to get excited about meat bowls.


          At its heart, the Persona series is about learning to accept who you really are. And just as Dale Carnegie’s self-help books recommend, this process begins with the decision to kill all your old friends, blow your brains out with a magic gun, or rip your own face off to reveal a monster. Most of the plot of Persona 4 is just your classmates trying to murder you while justifying their existences with a protracted version of an “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best” tweet. It’s all part of what makes Persona 4 one of the greatest, and truest, RPGs ever made.



          Mara is a divine penis who lives life in the fast lane.

          Japanese High School

          Every Persona game is set within a Japanese high school, which can be quite a culture shock for some players. In Japan, students between the ages of 15 and 18 spend weekdays in a large building where they listen to lectures and take regular written examinations, unlike in America, where we spend those years at home being tutored by our libertarian parents about seasteading and vaper’s rights.

          Japanese History

          Persona’s teachers often quiz you about old Japanese authors and Sengoku period generals in your classes, and giving the right answer can boost your Knowledge stat like nobody’s business. Unfortunately, for regular Joes and Janes from Truck Country, USA, these questions can be real stumpers.

          But there’s good news: using the Internet, you can “cheat” your way to being the smartest freshman at Shujin High. Just log on to and place an order for both volumes of Sources of Japanese Tradition, Keene’s Seeds in the Heart, and Takekoshi’s The Economic Aspects of the History of the Civilization of Japan. After a few weeks of tough yet rewarding study, you’ll be ready for an epic gaming experience.

          Chaos Emeralds

          In their rush to fuse the most powerful Personas and bed every woman they meet, many gamers forget to collect all seven Chaos Emeralds. If you don’t find them all before November, you’ll get the Bad Ending, in which your character watches helplessly as Dr. Robotnik forces Big the Cat to drink hemlock. Keep your eyes peeled for bonus stages, and you’ll be sure to foil Robotnik’s schemes!

        • Fan Art Friday #58: RWBY Characters by TheFigureInTheCorner

          3 weeks ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          It’s time for our weekly look at the best Rooster Teeth fan art from our community, curated by the fine folks at BIGBITE!

          This week’s featured artist is Marcus, AKA @TheFigureInTheCorner, for this illustration of nearly every RWBY character.


          Marcus lives in southeast Michigan, where he’s a junior in high school (that’s Grade 11 for you non-Americans) and an artist by hobby. One day he wondered how many characters were in RWBY, and got the idea to try and draw them all. He knows he didn’t get every single one, but he got pretty close – there are 93 characters total in this image if you include the Grimm.

          This illustration was created in Paint Tool SAI and took about 48 hours over the span of two weeks.


          Want a chance to be featured in future Fan Art Fridays? Head over to the Fan Art Friday thread in the Art forum to find out how!

        • Answers to Questions Posed in RT Podcast #419

          3 weeks ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          It's time for our regular segment in which @Gafgarian (AKA Jeremiah Palmer) provides answers to the burning questions left unanswered in each episode of the Rooster Teeth Podcast. Read on to get closure for When the Ball Drops – #419.


          Are the Tesla Model 3 preorders running behind?

          Perhaps not. Despite the relative quiet from Musk's factory on the subject and a steady decline in stock value over the last year (largely because of the silence), reports as recently as last week say that we may see the Model 3 sooner than later – perhaps much sooner. Concerns over the potential missed delivery date of mid-2018 have been exacerbated over the last few months because of two missed deadlines which Tesla has remained mum on as well. Those are the December 31, 2016 and March 1, 2017 self-assigned due dates for a delivery of a "beta prototype" and "completed beta," respectively. In addition to not having anything to show investors, Musk's team also seemed to have completely ignored these deliverables, opting instead to just not say anything.

          It should be noted that with both the Model S and Model X, Tesla also missed these so-called "prototype" deadlines, choosing to instead show off their test model months later. In both of these cases, they were able to claim that they "succeeded" in providing the test model as promised, despite not delivering on any of the incremental stages between. This left many investors in the dark during the production of those models, and, while both were ultimately released later than intended, the overall opinion of investors remained positive enough to trigger future investment in the Model 3.

          As time has passed since the record-breaking pre-orders associated with the Model 3 and little information has come from Tesla, investors have predictably gotten nervous, causing some to dump their investment. However, a recent Forbes articles has led some to feel that a few may have preemptively jumped ship. According to anonymous sources within Tesla that were privy to a private investor call, Musk may have made the surprising executive decision to skip the "Beta Prototype" phase completely. Musk reportedly stated, "...release candidates should be ready for driving internally within two weeks." This means that the standard release cycle of pre-alpha, alpha, beta, release candidate, pre-production, and finally production may have been internally usurped. While apparently skipping over the beta stages of development and going straight to release candidates has served to further fray some nerves, Musk elaborated on the subject a bit by pointing out that lessons learned from previous Tesla iterations have allowed them to walk into this production with more preparation. Pointing out that, "The Model 3 has 1.5 kilometers of wiring. The Model S has 3 kilometers of wiring, so we simplified the wiring system considerably." Production details like these have been further streamlined allowing for better scalability of the model's production.

          What does all of this mean? Possibly nothing. Ultimately, the company's track records say a lot about their opinions on the importance of a timely delivery. At this point I think that Tesla is going to do what Tesla thinks is best for the business, product, and the consumer. If this means @gus waits a year for his Model 3 then that is just what he signed up for. Given previous knowledge of their past delivery schedules, it would be foolish to "bank" on the idea that you will be driving your Model 3 by this time next year. In this case, "hoping for the best but preparing for the worst" seems key, and a year or more from now, when you are $30k+ poorer and a brand new Model 3 pulls into your driveway, you can be just as surprised as the Tesla investors are.

          The forced perspective of Cinderella's Castle?

          Fair warning to those who don't want some of the magic of Disney spoiled, you may want to keep scrolling. I know that discussing the truths of Disney can sometimes be compared to discussing other "magical" truths and I'll not be responsible for any of that nonsense. So, those of you are still sporting your Mouseketeer hats from back when you had to pay for Disney on TV, be warned, you may want to keep scrolling.


          We learned a little bit about this in a previous Podcast Answers post on the Disney lore, but to elaborate, Disney is absolute not a rookie when it comes to the integration of forced perspective. Both Disneyland and Disney World have leveraged the power of forced perspective since their original inception and design. Various attractions take advantage of this optical illusion in order to make the visitor feel smaller, larger, closer, farther, etc. Notable uses of this method include the walls in the "growing room" of the Haunted Mansion, and the slightly elongated bricks, windows, and door frames of Main Street USA so the walk to Cinderella's Castle feels much longer than the walk out of the park in the other direction. The buildings of Main Street USA are built with a forced perspective vertically as well since most of them do not have functional upper floors. This makes the buildings appear taller than they actually are, which, at various angles from within the park, allow the rest of the scenery beyond Main Street USA to be visible.

          As @bgibbles suggested, the castles are no exception to the use of forced perspective with every castle throughout the various Disney parks taking advantage of it in some way. Again, as mentioned by Blaine, the primary reason for this, at least in Florida, is due to a height requirement by the FAA which states that any structure taller than 200 feet must be equipped with a flashing red light to warn approaching aircraft. The desire to not have a flashing red light, combined with the desire to make the castles look immense, led the Disney Imagineers to rely on the powers of forced perspective. By shrinking the bricks as they ascend the towers and making the iconic top spire half of its actual scaled size, the impression of the top of the castle being much further away from you on the ground is easily conveyed. The actual height of Cinderella's Florida home is only 189 feet and it is still the second tallest castle of all Disney parks, eclipsed only by the Enchanted Storybook Castle in Shanghai, China; and even then by a mere 8 foot difference.

          Perhaps one of the greatest uses of forced perspective in all of Disney, however, is that of Beast's castle. Revealed to the public in early 2012, the looming presence of Beast's cursed home on the hill was a welcome addition to the FantasyLand expansion. With the added ability to eat "inside" it at Be Our Guest restaurant, guests were immediately captured by the magic of Disney World's latest destination. I personally was there shortly before Be Our Guest opened and was able to easily make out the looming ramparts of Beast's home. Looking back on it, there is no doubt that I assumed the castle to be a huge structure... I now know that I could not have been more wrong.

          Here is a picture in case you doubted the power of imagination, a bit of training in forced perspective engineering, and some well-placed scenery.


          Why don't dishwashers always run the sanitize setting?

          The short answer is mostly related to energy consumption, but there is also a healthy amount of concern toward melting certain items. Formerly known as the National Sanitation Foundation, NSF International has determined that the temperature required to "sanitize" non-porous dishes is no less than 150 degrees Fahrenheit. A standard dishwasher cycle runs with your hot water at its base temperature. In other words, no additional heating takes place and your dishes are washed in water that is typically around 120 degrees. During a sanitize cycle, a dishwasher will run that water through heating coils prior to the wash cycle beginning. This will temporarily bump the water temperature beyond the 150-degree sanitization point. Naturally this additional step adds time and energy consumption to the process. The exact amount of additional time and energy consumed varies based on the make, model, and age of your dishwasher, but, on average, the full cycle tends to be around 5–18 minutes longer and uses an additional 0.5–1 kilowatt hour.

          This extra time and energy, the possibility of melting anything plastic, and the additional wear to your machine has led most appliance companies to suggest that the use of the sanitization cycle should not be considered a regular use case in most households.

          What is Potassium Permanganate?

          Potassium Permanganate is an antiseptic and is a key ingredient in water purification, various medicines, and, curiously, emergency marking snow. Also known as Condy's Crystals, the normally grayish-black powder can be purchased at most home improvement stores and is also sometimes found at wilderness equipment and camping retailers.

          When combined with various other ingredients, even in small amounts, this versatile powder can have drastically different outcomes. For example, if combined with Glycerine or antifreeze, it will start a chemical fire. The addition of sugar will produce a large amount of smoke and, in the case of Onoway, Alberta, a mixture with water is used for purification purposes. While larger quantities can absolutely be harmful if ingested, a toxic dose would require above a 100 mg per kilogram of body weight concentration, which is much higher than Onoway's mixture. At that concentration, the solution would actually become a more solidified purple-ish soup. If pink, however, it is perfectly safe to consume even if it does look like a watered down slime from Ghostbusters II. That said, the pink solution has been known to cause a few stains on your clothing, so, if your water is pink, maybe hold off on doing the laundry at least.

          What would happen if your balls never dropped before puberty?

          If your balls do not descend by age one, it is recommended that you immediately confer with a urologist and surgeon to discuss options. Most initial treatments will include some type of hormone therapy in order to attempt to artificially "trigger" the natural movement of the testes. By age three, if they still have not dropped, invasive surgery is highly recommended. While undescended testicles through puberty are extremely rare, usually due to an early age diagnosis and treatment if it were an issue, delays in ball "droppage" has been linked to extremely low sperm count and even some forms of testicular cancer though there have been very few studies on the subject to the general rarity of the condition.

          Can you choose your cell phone's area code?

          For the most part, yes. Most cell phone providers will give you the option of choosing whichever area code you prefer, though, depending on which representative is helping you, they may or may not actually ask you. Similarly, most providers also allow you change the area code of your existing phone number. Sprint even goes so far as to offer it through a simple automated form on their website.

          Why are TV show seasons so short these days?

          In the long long ago, the before time if-you-will, TV seasons had more episodes. Most had upwards of 20+ and, in the very early days of television, it wasn't unusual for seasons to be longer still. Lucille Ball and her critically acclaimed 1951 sitcom, I Love Lucy, debuted with a 35-episode first season. It ran from October to June and, because of a scheduling quirk, even released new episodes on Christmas and New Year's Eve. The next few decades of broadcast television saw the average television season length decline considerably, and by the late 1970s, the "standard" 22 episode model had been pretty strongly established. Then came cable TV...

          Initially cable stations stuck to the standard model of shorter episodes and longer seasons; however, when premium cable stations like HBO and Showtime began offering their own original programming, opting for what they deemed to be "quality over quantity," the game began to change. The shorter seasons, with longer episodes and no commercial breaks, allowed for an arguably more impressive scripting process. Additionally, the promise of a limited engagement began to draw well-known names into the story. Perhaps sensing the shift, the standard cable channels began embracing the scripted series, and networks like USA, WB, and TNT all started dropping the 22-episode standard in favor of the more conservative 13 or so.

          As with most things, the major broadcast channels were slow to follow and really have only started to really embrace the shorter season within the last few years. The cable channels quickly noticed another perk beyond the draw of viewers and advertising: the shorter season fit very nicely into a calendar quarter, essentially allowing a channel to base earnings or losses on a show's popularity. Programming for multiple shows became a much easier thing to manage, and show quality was more easily measured due to more severe changes in viewership. According to AMC president, Charlie Collier, planning a show became more about great storytelling and less about filling a predetermined timeslot, and it was evident to the networks and viewers. He stated that, “We would look for the window, no matter the length, where we thought our storytelling could stand out."

          The season lengths continue to dwindle, and while there is some evidence to suggest that dipping under the "8 episode" mark is too few for American audiences, most cable stations have attempted this at one time or another. Reasons vary by channel, but most programming directors point to shorter seasons as a way to finance new possible hits. In other words, if Game of Thrones is limited to a seven-episode season, then some of the money saved can be dedicated to Westworld's $100 million budget. A larger catalog of shows naturally attracts a larger overall audience. This is imperative as streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu continue to cut into the premium original content business. While HBO execs have remained pretty quiet on the subject, it is a pretty common thread that by producing shorter seasons of already established shows they save money on production as well as free up the schedule for other potential hits.

          Another likely factor in the creation of shorter seasons of your favorite shows is changes to the "syndication" model since streaming services became more mainstream. The past formula for syndication required hitting the critical "100-episode" mark in order to lock down distribution. Essentially, once an episode reaches the syndication minimum of 100 episodes, the host network would be able to begin selling older episodes of the show to air as reruns on other channels. This not only potentially drove new viewers back to the still-running show, but also brought additional monies to all those financially involved with its original production. Until a few years ago, syndication was something of a "Holy Grail" pinnacle of television production, and, while it doesn't guarantee continued success, most syndicated shows are able to bring about at least a little bit of extra money for those involved. The elusive 100-episode mark has also been viewed as somewhat of a "hostage" situation in certain cases, most notably with popular shows like Community and My Name is Earl "losing" and being canceled only a few episodes shy of the syndication threshold. With the growing popularity of the streaming services listed above, the idea of "syndication" has shifted dramatically, with Netflix and Amazon both being quick – sometimes after only a few weeks – to pick up even marginally popular new shows for what could be thought of as modern "syndication."

          Perhaps a bit surprisingly, some of the biggest proponents, in general, of these shorter seasons are the shows' production teams! From showrunners to writers and cast and crew, all seem to really prefer the 10-episode arc over the 20-something. Naturally their reasons vary, but whether it is less of a rush through writing and production or the ability to gain a greater understanding of the character, I don't know that I really mind the shorter seasons. Personally, the binge model championed by both Netflix and Amazon is one of my favorite parts about streaming television, and it would be a nightmare to stream a full day's worth of television, especially given that I likely only give a shit about half of those episodes. That said, interested in your thoughts here. Do you all prefer the streaming binge model, the shorter seasons, or would you like to see Game of Thrones go the way of General Hospital and give us a new episode every day as long as each was accompanied by at least one gratuitous nude person?

          P.S. For those wondering about the differences between British television and American television, the point I made in the last paragraph is really a good explainer on that as well. To hear the BBC writer/producers explain it, "British TV is about writing a great story and American TV is about selling a great product." I'm not sure how true that actually is, but I do know that BBC One only has adverts between shows, and the writing staff is typically MUCH smaller for British shows. Those are the facts; I leave you to your own conclusions...

          How do they pick people for jury duty?

          Great question! Unfortunately there is not really a short answer for this, as each state has some variances in their selection process as well the rules surrounding exemptions, qualifications, pay, level of involvement, etc. At the federal level, your qualification for being selected is that you are a registered voter and/or you have a driver's license or state-issued ID in that particular district. In attempts to ensure a fairly randomized selection, your name will be removed from the pool if you have served in the last two years; however, it should be noted that this will likely not disqualify you from serving as a state juror for your local county, and it is not unusual for some to be called multiple times in their lifetime. A study by the National Center for State Courts determined that while 32 million potential jurors may be summoned for jury duty in a year, the average service is only around 8 million, so it is very possible for you to get summoned for jury duty but not actually "called," which would cause your name to be dropped back into the pool.

          In addition to the legal qualifications for jury duty, there are few options at your disposal to excuse yourself from serving. Aside from current incarceration, military service, and medical emergency, there are precious few additional resources at your disposal to get out of serving. If you have no interest in serving, you are much better off attending the summons as requested and, during selection, ensuring that you are disqualifying yourself. Obviously, I am not suggesting you lie, but, in most cases, being fully honest will disqualify you anyway.

          As someone who has served as a juror twice, I highly recommend approaching it with an honest curiosity and openness. It obviously isn't an experience that is for everyone, but it could quite literally be an experience that you may never have another chance to be a part of. Despite a somewhat "uncomfortable" experience due to the content of the last case I sat on, I would absolutely participate if I were once again chosen.

          In my research, I stumbled across this interactive test created by the NY Times where you can see if you would be selected as a juror for a particular case and why, or why not. Be sure to comment below with your result.

          I was not chosen because apparently the plaintiff was "scared of how biased I would be in favor of the defendant."

          What is the American equivalent of "dogging"?

          Best I can tell, there is no "American equivalent" excepting the more formalized bucket of "exhibitionism." I suppose that the concept of "parking" is similar, though neither exhibitionism or parking really capture what "dogging" is all about. For those not in the know, Urban Dictionary tells me that dogging is the British slang term for engaging in public sex while others, typically strangers, watch. Roughly a decade ago, the internet blew up with various articles stemming from "insider reports" on what is apparently quite the craze in British society. While dodging (read "getting distracted by") several websites dedicated to a more visual appreciation for the pastime, I was able to glean that it has progressively become more of a mainstream act in America as well, with "dogging" forums and impromptu meetups becoming a relatively normal site in several popular parks within major cities.

          I, personally, was a bit surprised to learn how much this is apparently a thing, and now I don't know if I should feel disappointingly old and out-of-touch or strangely okay that I've never had to witness/participate in this...

        • Answers to Questions Posed in RT Podcast #418

          3 weeks ago

          Rooster Teeth Poppycock

          It's time for our regular segment in which @Gafgarian (AKA Jeremiah Palmer) provides answers to the burning questions left unanswered in each episode of the Rooster Teeth Podcast. Read on to get closure for Burnie the Paranoid – #418.


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          Are identical twins "Natural Clones"?

          As most answers for the Podcast questions, this answer largely depends on your own thoughts on what a "clone" actually is. If we were to split semantic "hairs," then the quick-and-easy answer would be no. This is because if you clone a plant or an animal, you would refer to the original as the clone's parent. Since a twin would be a "clone" of a sibling, they would not be considered a clone under the standard connotation of the word. However, another piece of a clone's definition is that it contains identical DNA, which, in the case of twins, is the case.

          If we were to really dive into the science of both options, we would learn a few important points that may help us to decide on the best solution to this answer. For identical twins, their DNA is nearly the same, their blood type is always the same, but their fingerprints are ALWAYS different. This is because fingerprints are determined by a number of in-utero factors. While twins' DNA is nearly identical because they share the same genetic blueprint, their growth as two separate embryos which compete over nutrients and position within the womb leads them to have different experiences during gestation. That said, comparing twins' fingerprints will usually find several similarities. This is because the basic characteristics of fingerprint patterns are genetically defined; however, especially near the end of the first trimester, factors such as the aforementioned womb position, as well as hormone levels, blood pressure, and nutrition can cause very real differences between prints. Prior to modern genetic testing, the similar fingerprint markers were actually used to determine whether a set of twins were truly identical or just very similar looking fraternals.

          This difference in fingerprints would exist whether these twins were naturally taken to term and birthed or if they were separated and birthed years apart, as in Gavin's proposed "natural cloning" experiment. There is strong evidence to suggest that even a fully artificial – and controlled – gestation and birth would lead to these fingerprint differences. Short of a "time-loop" copy of your previous self, reproducing an exact clone (including fingerprints) of another human being will likely never be fully attainable.

          This leads us to the next important part of this question, which regards which point one would be determined to be a "clone" of another. Do they need to be an exact copy, down to the fingerprint? Merriam-Webster has a few different definitions of "clone"; surprisingly, none of these seem to mandate an exact replica of another being. All variations of the first definition require "genetically identical cells" and the second definition is only, "one that appears to be a copy of an original form." The statement of the "appearance" of a copy means that, depending on who you may ask, the inconsistencies around fingerprints may not be a relevant clarification. In regards to the first definition, in the case of an artificial clone or a twin, their genetic material is identical, despite slight differences in their fingerprints or other characteristics which may be influenced by intrauterine hormone levels or their environment during growth.

          All of this information leads me to conclude that Gavin may actually be right about this. Given the relative ambiguity of the definition of a "clone," the reality is that, depending on your own interpretation, thinking of twins as "natural clones" may not be that difficult. That said, I'm really curious about the opinions of the community on this one. This question, specifically, was one of those that I occasionally answer which completely changes my opinions on something as I investigate it more. Definitely entered into this one with the idea that Gavin was nuts... perhaps not so much.

          Learn Spanish - Spell "SOCKS"!

          Why does Zelda: Breath of the Wild have weapon degradation?

          Breath of the Wild director Eiji Aonuma has stated that, when considering the addition of weapon degradation in the latest entry in the Zelda franchise, the team was hoping that it would encourage players to approach battling in a more tactical way. By making every weapon capable of breaking after repeated use, they naturally diminish the importance of having the best weapon available and bump up the importance of collecting, repairing, and thinking in between battles.

          During a 2016 interview with Gamnesia, Aonuma said the game "...encourages the player to carefully use their weapons and not swing it every which way however they want. We also believe that by leading the player to go grab weapons from enemies and increases the amount of battles they have to go to and gives the battles a lot more intent, and it worked out really great. So that's why it's in there."

          Does airplane mode kill the Bluetooth controller connection on the Switch?

          Similar to your phone, toggling "Airplane Mode" on the Switch WILL disable your device's Bluetooth connection, which means the Joy Cons will also cease working, assuming they aren't docked to the system. However, also like your phone, you do have the ability to manually toggle back on both Bluetooth and WiFi, despite Airplane Mode being enabled. The functionality of Airplane Mode is just an easy way to shut down both connectivity options at once.

          Was Wormtongue a wizard?

          According to the Middle-Earth Encyclopedia, there were only ever five known Istari, or wizards, in Middle-Earth lore. Grima Wormtongue was not counted among these. However, with the help of Saruman the White and an unknown influence, he was able to successfully "invade the mind" of the great King Theoden of Rohan. Much of this pivotal storyline should be familiar to those who have seen Peter Jackson's adaptation of the Two Towers; however, there are some additional bits of information which make Wormtongue's involvement in the War of the Ring even more interesting.

          Chief among these is the fact that it was he, not Gollum, that pointed the Nazgul toward the Shire. The curious moviegoer may have wondered about the Nazguls' ability to locate the Baggins' residence when the only two words uttered by Gollum where "shire" and "Baggins." In Tolkien's Unfinished Tales: The Hunt for the Ring, we learn that, when traveling from Isengard to Edoras, Grima was beset by the Nine Ringwraiths and, in fear, told them all he had learned from Saruman about the ring and Bilbo, its owner at the time. This information included the exact location of the relatively unknown Shire and the Hole of Bag End, of which Saruman was aware due to previous conversations with Gandalf about the "incident with the dragon."

          Additionally, for those among who desire to rival @Chris in LOTR fanaticism, Grima's tale doesn't end locked in Saruman's tower, guarded by angry trees. Instead, he and Saruman are released, after Gandalf destroys Saruman's staff and much convincing on the part of Saruman toward Treebeard the Ent. Eventually, they found their way to the Shire and choose to invade it. After initially winning control of Bag End, Saruman is overthrown by Frodo and restless Hobbits in the Battle of Bywater. As Saruman is exiled from Bag End and the Shire, he blames Grima for misfortune and beats him, not for the first time. Apparently this was one lash too many and Grima, in a vengeful rage, slit Saruman's throat. Wormtongue was quickly dispatched by a group of nearby Hobbit archers. It was his and Saruman's death which officially closed the War of the Ring's story.

          Is it illegal to collect emails via a retail transaction receipt?

          While I was unable to find any sort of federal regulation blocking this act, several states have added laws to their books to prevent this sort of thing. Most notably was a lawsuit brought upon Nordstrom in 2013 in a California court which alleged that the collection of email addresses during a purchase with the intent to send marketing emails should fall under California's 1974 Song-Beverly Credit Card Act which made it illegal to require consumers to provide their zip code for credit card transactions. This suit alleged that email addresses constituted personally identifiable information (PII) and should not be a requirement of retail purchase. Furthermore, the suit meant to clarify that using email addresses collected for the purpose of electronically sending a copy of a receipt to a consumer, to build an email list for a marketing campaign went beyond questionable business ethics.

          As a result of this lawsuit, California law was amended to clarify a proper process of email collection that clearly defines the retailer's intention. This "clearly defined" process requires a retailer to wait until after the transaction has completed and the receipt delivered to the customer, via email or physically, before again requesting their email for marketing reasons.

          While this hasn't set a precedent of clarifying whether a person's email is technically PII, it still has been a step in that direction. Opponents of the ruling, namely retailers, claim that the CAN-SPAM act, discussed below, has governed these transactions sufficiently for over a decade while the rest of us have found our own way to combat the spam. Personally, I have an email address exclusively for receipts and signups that I couldn’t care less about. I haven't checked it in probably five years and I can't imagine what kind of nonsense lives in there.

          What does it take 7 days to unsubscribe from a mailing list?

          It doesn't. Or at least it shouldn't, if someone has built their notification service in any reasonable sort of way. However, several marketing campaigns are actually run through third-party emailer services, such as Mailchimp, and while they do have automated unsubscribe lists, it could, depending on the size of the operation, take time for an actual human to verify removal. There is, in many cases, a requirement for a human approval, or acknowledgement, of an unsubscribe list which will determine the actual removal from future promotional materials that are manually triggered by the company. Assuming the company is leveraging the same email service for the next marketing campaign, a service like Mailchimp should take care of the heavy lifting and easily clean up the new list based on the most recent unsubscribe list's content.

          The reason for the seemingly arbitrary "7 day" message is anyone's guess, but it is likely related to the CAN-SPAM Act compliance. The CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act was enacted in 2003 and provides the guidelines for keeping email marketing campaigns on the "up-and-up." According to the CAN-SPAM Act, all unsubscribe requests must be honored within 10 business days. Given this knowledge, as well as the idea that email marketing campaigns are typically scheduled/planned well in advance, it is likely the "7 day" message is given as a buffer to allow time for the unsubscribe list to be confirmed and implemented without having to worry about rushing to block already scheduled marketing campaigns from sending.

          Did Hugh Jackman ever wear the yellow spandex Wolverine suit?

          No, he hasn't. This has been despite a pretty strongly divided fanbase on the subject with most, especially those claiming to be the "comic faithful," pretty upset about Wolverine's lack of yellow and blue spandex over the years. The X-Men franchise has passed through the hands of many directors over the years, and throughout the commentary and interviews, questions about the iconic mutants' costumes, or lack thereof, have been a pretty regular occurrence. Interestingly, the answers seem to be strangely similar, to the point that the conspiracy theorists among you may even go so far as to say that something sinister may be afoot. The common response to the oft-asked question is typically along the lines of "staying true to the story" or "the real [character] would never wear that, could you imagine?"

          Frequently dismissed as just one of those things that get lost when making the jump from the arguably over-the-top "camp" of comic books to the dramatic tales of the silver screen, the loss of the iconic outfits has been more than a way to distance themselves from the colorful world of comics for many. The video below actually does a great job of arguing the point for the inclusion of the over-the-top color and camp of the comic realm. Unfortunately, it does ignore one very important observation when it comes to comic adaptations to film: that there are far more movie fans than comic fans. If the point of movie-making is to sell tickets, it is arguably a much tougher sell to those who have never picked up a comic if your lead character is a hunky Aussie in yellow spandex... or perhaps not?

          Are wolverines and badgers similar?

          While both animals are of the Mustelidae (commonly known as the Weasel) family, tend to live in colder climates, and have gained a reputation for ferocity over the years, there are a few very real differences between them. First, the wolverine is easily twice the size of a badger. At 80 pounds, it is stockier, almost bear-like; with thicker fur, a significantly longer lifespan, larger teeth, a broader diet; and is generally more clever hunter. The badger, for its part, excels in other areas, namely its ability to climb, dig, and swim, in which it frequently participates as a means of survival and hunting. Other differences include the solitary nature of the wolverine when compared to pack mentality of the badger, as well as their den preferences which, for the badger, are typically underground tunnels known as "setts" and, for the wolverine, are usually a simple hole habitat.

          Your turn... who would win?


          Is Logan canon?

          Without going into spoiler territory, according to the writer/director James Mangold, "In a way, all these stories connect. But to say, at least from the perspective of this character where we find him ... he feels like those movies are are slightly aggrandized versions of their own past. But I hope you're never sure which it is we're saying – is it that Logan has gotten so disappointed in his life and in the direction that mankind has taken that he can no longer see the past realistically? Or is it that the past has been exaggerated?" Conversely, in a separate interview, Hugh Jackman stated, "It’s a standalone movie in many ways. It’s not really beholden to timelines and storylines in the other movies."

          While these two points may seem to contradict each other, later interviews with the two of them confirmed that Logan is officially canon. To clarify Jackman's point, the two said that the goal was to allow the audience to make up their own interpretation of the original films in relation to Logan's storyline, leaving the implication on the table that the previous entries in the story may have been exaggerated at times.

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