I’ve done another music

Hey look, another cover! I guess I have a lot of time to hang out and play music over the holidays.

I guess this is a music blog now.

If you have a suggestion for other songs I could cover, let me know in a comment or email or whisper campaign (technically speaking, “stop posting covers” is a legitimate suggestion).


I’ve done a music

I was messing around on the piano and was enjoying playing this song by Ezra Furman, who did much of the soundtrack for the series “Sex Education”.

is this a music blog now?

About the mosaic: either my face would be too captivating and would cause widespread panic and jealousy or I’m just shy. You pick.


The Mystic Ivan does a listicle: the 13 best gifts to buy this season

Dear readers,

The festive season is upon us, Saturn is entering it’s Brazilian waxing phase, and my lawsuit to be allowed to use gold doubloon as currency at Walmart is still pending. To celebrate, I’ve put together a list of my 13 favorite gifts to give this holiday. Whether you celebrate Christmas (or like me, celebrate a complex combination of holidays, the burden of which is mostly on my neighbors) there’s something for everyone on this list!

Choking on a candy cane whittled to my likeness,
The Mystic Ivan

1. This flaming skull

What do you get the person who has everything? The answer is this constantly on fire human skull.

2. A Dreidel that never stops spinning until you go insane

This is not a photo of the actual dreidel for obvious reasons, not the least of which is I don’t believe in cameras.

3. Monkey’s Paw where all the unexpected downsides are Christmas themed

Go the extra mile this year and get your ennui-ridden nephew a Christmas-themed Monkey’s Paw. I used it, and now I’m a millionaire (but the twist is all my money is tied up in Christmas toys I can’t sell because they’re imported illegally by a man with a white beard).

4. A candy cane where the red stripes represents the blood of Jesus Christ

Okay, even I can admit this one’s a little strange.

5. A single red balloon that lures children to drown

Batteries not included.

6. A snow globe

I just think they’re neat!

7. Skiing lessons with the ghost of Ingrid Bergman

This one-time deal can be found on Groupon.com.

8. A crystal ball

See how everyone will fail their New Year’s resolutions and call bullshit on your Aunt’s annual holiday letter. I know Thomas didn’t get straight-As, Aunt Kim.

9. A PlayStation 5

Take the hint.

10. A pardon from your state’s governor


11. Wooden clogs

If my memory serves me right, children love a classic wooden clog.

12. A Ped Egg

These things are great and they work on ferrets too. It’s also a good gift to pair with the clogs.

13. Nothing

No gift says more than no gift at all. Please be sure to put away nothing when you’re done using it or reality gets very weird.


Images (in order of appearance):
“fire skull app” by blackpawn is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“IMG_18032012-12-10 The Dreidel Game – bad spin” by niiicedave is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
“Monkey Paw” by nattywoohoo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“Candy Canes” by WELS.net is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
“A floating red balloon” by jcarlosn is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“robin snow globe” by MattX27 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
“Skiing” by Pauljh is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“cat & crystal ball” by Judy ** is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“Close-Up of Sony DualSense Wireless Controller in front of a laying Sony PlayStation 5 Digital Edition on White Background” by verchmarco is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Mississippi governor’s mansion” by lordsutch is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
“File:Carvers of wooden clogs, Holland.jpg” by Albarubescens is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
“IMG_4205” by ScottHernandez is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“Blue sky” by kwc909 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

the devil in the covid-19 vaccine?

In the pacific ocean, in the shallow coastal waters near Hawaii and Midway Island, lives a diminutive species known as the Hawaiian bobtail squid, which has evolved a surprising adaptation to hide from predators. Growing on the squid’s body are colonies of bacteria, known as Vibrio fischeri, which have made a symbiotic pact with the squid. In exchange for a safe place to grow and flourish, the bacteria produce bio-luminescence. This biochemically produced light provides counter-illumination to the squid’s shadow, making it difficult to be detected by predators from underneath.

Hawaiian bobtail squid. By Jamie Foster – Direct email from the author for the purpose of posting the image on Wikimedia/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29613423

In the Christian gospel of Luke, Jesus is quoted as saying “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning”, which is one of the early connections between Satan and falling light. In a separate instance, early Christians drew a connection between Satan and a prophecy in the book of Isaiah, in which a wicked Babylonian king was referred to as “the morning star”, whose own fall from grace was considered allegorical to that of Satan. It was through a theological connection between the Morning Star and the falling light which Jesus saw that one of the names for the planet Venus, “Light-Bringer”, came to refer to the Devil.

By scanned, post-processed, and uploaded by Karl Hahn. Paul Gustave DorΓ©, 1832-1883 (artist); Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321 (creator) – Pantheon Books edition of Divine Comedy, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3646193

The Latin word for “light bringer” is the root of the name of the molecular mechanism by which bacteria illuminate our squid: Lucifer. The molecules that produce the light from Vibrio fischeri (and fireflies too!) are known as luciferin and luciferase. These molecules, by virtue of their luminescent properties, are tremendously useful for biological research and biotech development. The genes that code for these molecules are easy to manipulate and because they cause a reaction that is easily visualized, scientists can use them to examine things like transcriptional activity, cellular energy resources (ATP), and protein degradation.

It turns out that knowing about all of those things I mentioned (and more!) is vital if you are trying to develop a vaccine to combat a global pandemic. That link goes to the website of the biotechnology company, Moderna, who have developed one of the mRNA-based vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

It has been incorrectly stated that the vaccine developed by Moderna contains luciferase which is linked to some satanic entity and is used to track people for a sinister purpose. This has already been largely debunked, but I shall add my voice to the clamor, specifically in regards to the easily disprovable first statement. The claim that the documentation for Moderna’s patents shows that the vaccine contains luciferase is completely false. If you click on that link and go through the eight patent documents listed on their website (ctrl+f is your friend), you will see “luciferase” appears thirteen times across all 1,608 pages of patent documents. The presence of the word alone does not mean that the vaccine contains luciferase.

When patents are filed, especially for complex technologies like vaccines, the filers are required to provide an eye-watering amount of documentation about what exactly they’re patenting, how it works, and most importantly, how they know that it works. This last step means that for complex molecular biology tech like an mRNA vaccine, experimental data on things like protein degradation and gene transcription are vitally important. These are exactly the things for which a visualization technique, like the luciferin-luciferase system I’ve described above, are tremendously useful. Every time that “luciferase” appears in the Moderna patent documents is in reference to how this bioluminescence technique was used to verify certain aspects of the technology; it has simply been used as a tool to create the vaccine. Stating that these patent documents are evidence of luciferase in the vaccine is akin to claiming your birthday cake contains a whisk because the recipe told you to use one.

If I am being generous, I would say that the person who made these claims, Emerald Robinson, was simply misinformed about how luciferase was being used in the development of the vaccine. However, given that the language in the patent documents is fairly plain, the fact that she has quoted them directly in her article, and Ms. Robinson’s background, my inclination is that her motives are more sinister.

In today’s massively information-dense world one can find support for any possible worldview and sometimes being taken in by a lie can make you feel like you’re thinking critically. Moreover, there are people in the world who are aware of this fact and are trying to use it to profit off of you. Sometimes it’s for political power, sometimes for money, and often for both. The fact remains that there are many people invested in telling you what you want to hear and leading you astray.

I’m not asking you to trust me; you should be skeptical of everything you read on the internet. What I am asking you to do is to question everything, especially if it confirms your viewpoint. Asking questions such as: “who wrote this and what is their background?”, “Is this a fact I can verify? Is it an opinion?” and “what hard evidence is being presented?” will go a long way to keeping the wool off your eyes.

It’s tricky times out there and it can be hard to admit when we’re wrong. But if we stay honest and keep our wits about us, I think we stand a chance.


PS – I didn’t touch on whether luciferase in a vaccine could be used to track someone. This is likely pretty impossible, as the luminescence is pretty weak. However, you absolutely can be tracked by whichever device you’re currently using to read this.

PPS – For the love of everything that is good, please go get vaccinated if you are able.

have i broken geometry?

(Spoiler alert: I have not broken geometry)

Suppose you have a square with side-length, L, completely surrounding a circle of radius, R, such that the edge of the circle just touches the inside of the square, like so:

Those of you that remember your geometry will recall that the circumference of the circle – that is the length of the red curve that defines the circle – is given as follows:

C = 2β‹…πœ‹β‹…R

and the perimeter (i.e. length of the curve) of the square can be written as:

P = 4β‹…L = 8β‹…R

since the radius of the circle is half the length of the side of the square. Note: here I am using (and will continue to use) the mathematical meaning of the word “curve”. That means that while the black lines that make up the square are straight segments, they are still defined by a “curve” in the mathematical sense.

Now, suppose you look at the corners of the black curve that makes the square and cut out two little line segments of length, s, in order to rearrange them so that the tips of the corners are now just touching the edge of the circle, like so:

Now we have two curves, a circle and something that is not quite a square. The keen-minded among you might have already noted that even though the black curve is no longer a true square, the perimeter is still exactly the same. All we have done is swap around some horizontal and vertical line segments to make the corners touch the circle without changing their length.

Let’s say that doing this process of rearranging parts of the black curve so that the corners pointing outwards now touch the edge of the circle is an algorithm with one step. Now, let’s count the iterations of this algorithm. By doing this once, as above, we have N=1.

Suppose we iterate the algorithm one more time, so that we have N=2 and make all eight of the outward pointing corners point inward, like so:

Just as before, the length of the black curve is still unchanged; all we’ve done is rearrange it. I’ve zoomed in on one quadrant so the details are more visible, but imagine this is being done on all the other corners.

It may be clear at this point that the black curve is beginning to converge to the red curve. In fact, as the number of iterations, N, goes to infinity, we can say that the black curve would lie almost exactly on the red curve of the circle. However, we know that the circumference (perimeter) of the red curve is 2β‹…πœ‹β‹…R, whereas the perimeter of the black curve is unchanged at 8β‹…R.

If the two curves are laying right on top of each other, how can this be?

This may see a bit counterintuitive, but a large part of the weirdness comes from a (somewhat intentional) mixing of mathematical concepts. Here, the simplest explanation why the perimeter of the black curve is not the same as a circle (the red curve) is that the black curve is simply NOT a circle – it’s a completely separate shape.

When we talk about mathematical curves that enclose space like this, it is important to distinguish the lengths of the curves from the areas that they enclose. It is correct to say that as we iterate our algorithm towards Nβ†’βˆž, the area confined within the black curve will converge to the area contained within the circle. Intuitively this follows, as the square has visibly more surface area than the circle at the start, and each iteration chops away a small amount.

However the shape of the black curve will be nothing like a circle. In fact, the black curve will be taking on a fractal nature. As we iterate this process infinitely many times and because mathematical curves have infinite resolution, we could hypothetically zoom in further and further and see the same repeating pattern of corners in the black curve – it would never truly converge to a circle. This is a similar phenomenon to one of my favorite mathematical concepts, the coastline paradox.

This phenomenon is perhaps more easily illustrated if we consider a single line that doesn’t enclose any area. Suppose we are trying to make the blue curve converge to the red line in the (hastily illustrated) image below. We can do a similar procedure of flipping the corners of the blue curve N times so that they touch the red line. As Nβ†’βˆž, the blue curve will lay directly over the red line but its overall length will be unchanged.

I hope that this illustration makes it clear that the initial blue curve could be arbitrarily long and stay that way, yet it can be made to converge to the straight red line. This difference in the lengths of the two lines/curves is described by the concept of taxicab geometry, a line of geometric thinking that considers the absolute differences of Cartesian coordinates between points.

Another way of thinking about the fractal nature of this converging curve is to think about the number of vertices or corners that emerge. In the above example, the number of corners that don’t touch the red line doubles with each iteration. As Nβ†’βˆž, the number of vertices will also approach infinity. A similar example from mathematics is the Cantor set, one of the earliest descriptions of fractal geometry. To visualize the Cantor set, imagine a line segment, divided into thirds, then remove the middle segment. At each iteration, this process is repeated on the remaining line segments, like so:

By 127 “rect” – From en.wikipedia.org Image:Cantor_set_in_seven_iterations.svg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1576217

At each step, the number of remaining line segments doubles. At the same time, the total length of the remaining segments is decreasing. Eventually as Nβ†’βˆž, the total size – that is, the sum of the remaining lengths – goes to zero, while the number of segments approaches infinity. What’s more, as you zoom in on any of the smaller segments, each “level” of resolution will exactly resemble the level above and below it. This is an example of the fractal idea of self-similarity.

So, to sum up: the lengths of the curves in both examples are different because the curves are different and it is important not to confuse curve length with confined area. Furthermore, the fractal nature that the curve can take on has some non-intuitive properties. Finally, no I did not break geometry – I just explored it a little.

End note: this post was inspired by this reddit post, and the discussion in the comments section thereof, as well as a discussion with the highly learned eniteris.

Until next time.