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I honestly don’t know how some of these myths are persisting so I’m here to bust them. Let’s hope Mythbusters doesn’t mind if I provide some additional firepower to the whole stupid myths thing.

  1. Your heart stops when you sneeze. FALSE. Holy crap could you imagine if it did? I’ve even heard university anatomy tutors claim this is true. It is most certainly not. Nor will your eyes pop out if you manage to keep them open. A sneeze begins with a tickling sensation that sends a message to your brain that something needs to be expelled from the lining of your nose. Your chest tightens from taking in a deep breath, your eyes close, your tongue presses against the roof of your mouth and you blast air out of your nose with an amusing sound that is unique to the person.
  2. Osmosis (basically water absorption) is the cause of the wrinkly, prune fingers that you get from staying in water for too long. FALSE. Surgeons discovered centuries ago that cutting a certain nerve would prevent prune fingers, suggesting that osmosis was not the cause. A bit more recently, scientists determined that the wrinkles were an adaption to provide better grip in wet conditions (S. Karger AG, Basel, 2011).
  3. The Coriolis effect (caused by the Earth’s rotation) is responsible for water draining down the sink in a certain direction. FALSE. The Coriolis effect does affect long-lasting vortices, but this is on the scale of things like hurricanes. Your sink, bathtub and shower are not significant enough to be affected by this force (which is a very small force indeed when you consider that the Earth makes one rotation a day, whereas your sink will make a rotation in seconds). The direction your sink drains in is determined by the vortices introduced whilst washing, the way the sink is filled and even the shape of the sink.
  4. A human in the vacuum of space without a space-suit will pop, explode, implode or anything else dramatic like that. FALSE. If the person exhales before exposure (to prevent lungs from bursting), that person could survive around 30 seconds before dying of asphyxiation (lack of oxygen).
  5. Dropping a penny from a very high building will kill a pedestrian below. FALSE. A penny is not aerodynamic enough to pick up enough speed to kill somebody. Its terminal velocity and weight aren’t sufficient to produce enough impact to kill – in fact it would just sting if you got hit by it.
  6. Lightning does not strike the same place twice. FALSE. In fact, it’s more likely to strike in the rough vicinity of the first strike because of the way lightning bolts are formed. I won’t get too deep into this (at least not for this post) but lightning is formed after a path of ionised air (known as plasma) is created between the cloud and the target (known as a step leader). Because plasma is more conductive, electrical current will flow along this path to neutralise the charge separation, shooting lightning back up into the clouds. While we’re at it, tall objects do not always get hit by lightning. True, they are closer to the cloud and thus there’s a higher chance for the step leader to create a path to a tall object rather than low ground, but the path of lightning is very unpredictable. For the purpose of this myth, just remember that if lightning strikes near you, then there’s a conductive path of ionised air going up from there and you are most definitely not safe because lightning is a goddamned beast and will strike wherever the hell it wants (probably close to an existing conductive path because electricity will obviously flow through the path of least resistance).
  7. You can’t create gold from other metals. FALSE. This might come as a surprise to many, since alchemists have tried for so long to accomplish this, but scientists are already capable of turning lead into gold. Glenn Seaborg, 1951 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, was apparently the first to succeed in transmuting a minute quantity of lead into gold. I’ve lost the academic paper that I originally read so I can’t be entirely certain, but I remember it was through a process of adding/removing particles or electrons or something else subatomic from the molecular structure of lead. Unfortunately, the cost of creating gold is not worth the value of the gold created, but there were insider reports (from Proctor and Gamble I think) that they predict the process will be refined to a profitable state within the next 50 years. Incidentally, these days the transmutation of elements is no big deal. Particle accelerators do this every day.
  8. Evolution always brings about improvements. FALSE. You may think that evolution is the process of improving a “lower” life form into a “higher” one, but in actual fact it’s dependent on environment and circumstance. Natural selection does tend to weed out weaknesses, but certain environments may have changed or remained the same over time, causing living creatures in those environments to require or not require evolution, respectively. Alligators, fungi, sharks, some fishes, and mosses are examples of creatures that have remained relatively the same over time, because they are so well adapted to their environments that they do not require improvement. The “strength” and “survivability” of a creature is almost entirely dependent on its environment.
  9. There is no gravity on the moon (or in other parts of space). FALSE. If you were to draw vectors in space to represent the influence of gravity, it would be a chaotic mess. Every stellar mass’s gravity in the universe will be influencing you with a force dependent on the distance between you and the core of that mass. The calculation of this, in a multiple body system, stumped Newton, causing him to become religious at the end of his days. Ironically, his problem was solved later through further study into perturbation theory and Newton’s own calculations by someone whose name I’ve forgotten and can’t find with a quick search on Google. I believe he was a French or Swiss scientist who also belonged to some church. Hit me up if you know who I’m talking about. Anyway, considering the calculation of this baffled one of the greatest minds in history, let’s just talk about gravity on the moon. Yes, you are being pulled towards the moon and earth (because Earth’s gravity is far stronger), but because the moon is orbiting the Earth, you are also travelling “sideways” enough so that you can stay airborne (or spaceborne?) for far longer than on Earth.
  10. Christopher Columbus discovered that the Earth was round. FALSE. Navigation systems were already based on a spherical world by Columbus’s time, and he failed to reach his original destination and discovered America instead. Pythagoras was actually the first to propose a round Earth. He died around 495 BC, around 2000 years before Columbus.

There’s heaps more interesting “facts” that are wrong, but I’ll leave it at these for now. It’s getting hard for me to think of any more at the moment. Some of this info was pulled off the internet but I can’t remember where so I’m not going to source them. In any event, it’s all in my own words so no biggie. It’s not like I’m claiming a huge discovery, these things should be well-known but aren’t, which is where the problem is!

I’m going to file this under English and Random Facts, because it is a fact that the series was done badly and for reasons closely related to writing, and thus English.

One of the main problems here is the use of deus ex machina, which is technically from Greek tragedy, but as a literary/dramatic technique, I still consider this post relevant to the topic of English.

Ok, let’s get started. A lot of fans will remain close-minded and adamant that their favourite series is as perfect as the rainbow shooting out of a unicorn’s behind but hopefully some of this information will shed light on why the series was particularly bad. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Avatar series and look forward to the next season. I also hated Shyamalan’s movie, as anyone in their right mind would. However, of all the seasons, LoK was the worst by far.

This was mainly because of poor planning. The Avatar team had this whole “four books for the four elements” theme going. Season 1 was Book One: Water, then came Book Two: Earth, and the last season of The Last Airbender was Book Three: Fire. Then The Last Air Bender ended (by the way, I also had a problem with them calling it Sozen’s Comet when a comet is made of frozen gases, and it doesn’t make sense that ice should power up fire benders). So what now? Three seasons, one element missing. Let’s make a quick fourth one to finish off with. Enter Legend of Korra.

What I’m getting at here is LoK was meant to be a standalone. Unfortunately, they tried to do too much with it and eventually Nickelodeon ordered a second season of LoK which is under production. If anything, that is an admittance that they didn’t accomplish what they set out to achieve with LoK – a nice ending to the four part series – and don’t want to end the franchise with a terrible impression. There’s too much left unexplored so they need another season to explain it all. That’s fine with me, but they should have anticipated it in the first place. Instead, we have a horrible standalone. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. The series was entertaining and if you watched The Last Airbender, chances are you’ll have enough back-story to make sense of LoK. However, LoK, from a writer’s perspective (and any other intellectual) is a poor text for the following reasons.

Introducing the new Avatar. As a baby she’s already busting through walls and bending three elements (can’t do air yet). Flash forward and she’s defeating skilled benders in duels and is known as being incredibly strong. First appearance in Republic City and she trashes three benders from a notorious gang. With no history of Pro-Bending (the sport) she carries her team to the finals. What am I getting at? She’s damn strong from the onset and displays no real character growth. Aang took seasons to learn one element at a time and grow stronger and wiser. Yes, I’m aware The Last Airbender had more time to develop the story – so that’s why I said it was poor planning. Regardless, there is very little character development at all in LoK. The viewer is thrown into a story and watches events unfold. There is no journey, no connection and no feeling of accomplishment because there is no character development. It’s a list of events occurring in a world that isn’t explained with characters that are set in stone. From a writing perspective, that’s bad.

More, Korra has the attention of the only two male leading characters her age. Why? I don’t know. She hasn’t done much to get their attention. Bolin likes her because he likes any female attention (he goes on about how she came to see him as a fan and is characterised as someone who enjoys the company of women). Somewhere during the series, that personality got erased and replaced with the sad little brother that couldn’t compete with his big brother for the girl he loves. Then Mako apparently loved Korra, which I’ll get into later.

What does this mean? Korra is a Sue. A Mary Sue is a character that violates the reality of the story by having everything. A Sue is too ideal to be plausible, and makes for a horrible character because an underdog achieves goals, a perfect character just exists and everything works out for them. There’s a lot more to a Sue but you’ll have to Google that yourself. Maybe I’ll post about them later.

Now, a lot of people have accused Asami of being a Sue, just because she’s the rich, pretty girl. I think this is mainly jealousy over the fact that she’s pretty and has Mako’s attention, and people somehow wanted Mako and Korra to be together. Well bad luck, because Korra is more of a Sue than Asami is. Asami is pretty, yes. But she lost her mother when she was young, she loses her wealth because her father betrayed her trust and turned out to be a psychopath, she’s only strong because she was constantly targeted as a child and needed to learn how to defend herself, and all of that aside, she lives in a world of bending and she’s not a bender. That’s a huge disadvantage. Add to that the fact that her love rival is the freaking Avatar.

How about Korra? Strong from the very moment we are introduced to her, has the only two male main characters in love with her, treated special because of her status as Avatar, can bend multiple elements, and manages to steal another girl’s man, as well as steal a kiss from him when she knew he was in a relationship, but not get in trouble for it. Everything just works out for Korra. She’s the freaking Avatar. She’s special. Her one flaw is that she can’t connect to her spiritual side, which is never a complication in the story, and eventually she does anyway so she can bring in a deus ex machina. So yeah, Korra is the Sue here.

Amon is another problem. There was so much potential in his character. He could have been the “immortal idea” like V (from V for Vendetta). He could have just been the heart-wrenching product of a firebender’s cruelty and a jaded view on the world after the death of his parents at the hands of a bender (as he claimed). Nope. He’s just a liar. Maybe this was a weak attempt to portray a Machiavellian antagonist, like Iago from Othello, but really, he was just a waterbender who lied so that he could seize power. How boring. In fact, his entire motive makes no sense. Apparently the villain of the entire series is explained in a one minute flashback by his brother (he doesn’t even have the grace to explain himself) in which Amon is first the caring, protective brother, then the cruel, animal-torturing brother, then the guy who wants to eliminate all benders because he believes in equality. What the f-? Great, at this point it feels like the entire conflict of the series was a sham and the story is just falling to pieces.

Now that we’ve talked about how shallow the characters are, let’s get on to inconsistency and unnecessary additions to the series. The love triangle was stupid, quite frankly. It was featured in so any episodes as a point of conflict but it was never established properly. When I was watching it, all of a sudden I was like “wait a freaking minute here, Mako likes Korra?”. Why did I have this reaction? Because it was never properly demonstrated that he liked her. Yes, he complimented her for her good performance in pro-bending (which is normal) and there was a scene where he was staring across the water at the air temple where she lived. For like three seconds. Sorry girls, I live in a real world where it takes more than a well-earned compliment and looking in the direction where someone lives to fall in love. Compare that to Mako first meeting Asami.

See? Now that’s love. He spontaneously generates love hearts which float around his head. That’s true love. Maybe he firebended those hearts, I have no freaking clue, but it’s inconsistent as heck with the rest of the story. I had no idea that Avatar was a show that portrayed visual representations of their character’s emotions. So why are there no light bulbs every time someone has an idea? Why no hash and exclamation marks when characters get angry? Because this scene was stupid (man I really want to use the f-word) and inconsistent with the rest of the story. And honestly, he blatantly expresses love at first sight for Asami (four goddamn hearts, count ’em!). At what point did he give a clear sign that he liked Korra? No point at freaking all. Yet somewhere, they decided to turn it into a love triangle that had absolutely nothing to do with the plot and was just a constant reminder of how poorly thought out the series was.

Finally, the deus ex machina. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means “god out of the machine” and was basically a feature in some ancient Greek tragedies (performed on stage) where a “god” would resolve the characters’ problems and basically fix everything. The deus ex machina was often an actor being lowered down on to the stage, symbolising the descent of a god to magically put everything right. Nowadays, it’s basically a feature that doesn’t gel in with the rest of the story and is introduced for the sole purpose of resolving an issue that has caused the story to get stuck. It’s bad because it undermines the integrity of the entire text and removes all feeling of conflict. It’s like, why should I care if someone’s just going to come and fix everything? There’s no suspense at all. There’s no consequences.

Aang is the deus ex machina. Korra loses her bending and everyone freaks out. For once, I feel as if something momentous is occurring in the plot. It’s like, wow, the Avatar has lost her powers! Holy monkeys, what do we do now? There’s some real emotion now – sadness, fear, uncertainty, and destitution. One minute later – wait, never mind, here’s Aang to fix everything. Yes, I get that Korra was sad, and yes, that tear that fell off the cliff was symbolic of her character’s “death” (an Avatar without bending is a dead character – it fails to serve its intended purpose) and possibly reflecting her morbid mindset in which she may have contemplated suicide. This has nothing to do with the fact that these badasses come in and remove all the emotion, suspense and integrity from the text.

There is no purpose to any of the conflict in the series when Korra can just be sad and Aang will come fix everything. That is why a deus ex machina sucks.

Why am I so frustrated? I think the series had so much potential. They could have made something amazing, but instead, it was a rushed, poorly planned, inconsistent, shallow show. Hopefully they take more time with the next season, although thanks to their little deus ex machina, there’s no conflict for a second season. Amon is dead (supposedly – we never see him actually die) and the Avatar has her bending back and the power to restore bending. So what now?

Seriously though, how could would it have been if the second season was Korra journeying with Beifong (and possibly others) to find a way to restore bending? That would have made for a good story.

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