Friday, September 30, 2005

A Heart-Warming Affirmation of that Can-Do American Spirit

What happens when you assemble a crack team of five Hollywood promo voiceover artists for one limo ride? This.

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Fall Preview

There are a lot of movies to look forward to this fall, but this new Shining flick looks heartwarmingly hilarious.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Random Movie Quote Thursday

Do you realize
that in addition to fluoridating water,
why, there are studies under way
to fluoridate salt,
fruit juices,
ice cream?
Ice cream, Mandrake?
Children's ice cream!
You know when fluoridation began?
1946, Mandrake.
How does that coincide
with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh?
It's incredibly obvious, isn't it?
A foreign substance is introduced
into our precious bodily fluids
without the knowledge of the individual,
and certainly without any choice.
That's the way your hard-core Commie works.
I first became aware of it, Mandrake,
during the physical act of love.
Yes, a profound sense of fatigue,
a feeling of emptiness followed.
Luckily I was able to interpret these feelings correctly.
Loss of essence.
I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake.
Women...women sense my power,
and they seek the life essence.
I do not avoid women, Mandrake,
but I do deny them my essence.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Calamari Anyone?

Japanese scientists, who are the best kind of scientists because they are really smart and have tamagotchis, have done what no one has done before: photographed a honest-to-goodness, living giant squid. This, ahem, sucker is 25 feet head to tentacle tip:

That weird white thing in the foreground is the bait and baitpole they used to attract him. Before this, we knew such squids existed, because they periodically washed up on beaches. We also knew they were constantly battling sperm whales, because we kept finding squid parts in whale stomachs and tentacle marks on whale skin. This monster would scare the bejeezus out of Nemo--the captain or the clown fish.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Cats: You Have No Chance to Survive, Make Your Time


If you've ever been attacked and clawed up by a housecat, you've probably thought to yourself,
"Oh well, at least it wasn't a frickin' Panthera atrox." Lucky for you, scientists now say that modern cats aren't even very closely related to the last ice age's sabretoothed cats.
"Our results show that the sabertooths diverge early and are not closely related to any living cats," write Ross Barnett of the Henry Wellcome Ancient Biomolecules Centre in Oxford and colleagues in the latest issue of the journal Current Biology.

Sabertoothed cats went extinct about 13,000 years ago, towards the end of the last Ice Age, as did many other large cats that once roamed the North American plains.

These include the Yukon scimitartoothed cat, the American lion-like cat or Panthera atrox and a cheetah-like cat called Miracinonyx trumani.

The only large cats that survived in the Western Hemisphere were the puma and the jaguar.

Link. Maybe this will put to rest rewilding movements. If we've got pumas, isn't that enough?

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At Least They Don't Have Thumbs . . . Yet


Hurricane Katrina wreaked devastation unlike any the United States had ever seen, but the most terrifying consequence of the storm has not yet come to pass: an attack from super-intelligent, electrode-enhanced dolphins armed with dart guns.
Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.

. . . .

[Accident investigator Leo Sheridan remarks,] 'My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire. . . . The darts are designed to put the target to sleep so they can be interrogated later, but what happens if the victim is not found for hours?'

Link. Is it just me, or does this sound like a Jerry Bruckheimer picture waiting to happen?

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Speak Softly

As anyone who's seen Do You Speak American? can tell you, there are these two camps of langauge scholars: prescriptivists and descriptivists. Prescriptivists try to figure out what English should be, and they see language change--such as the development of neologisms like "jumping the shark," or novel uses or pronunciations of words, like "ask" pronounced the same as "axe" or "I'm like" used as a synonym for "I said"-- as a threat to the sanctity of the mother tongue. Descriptivists focus more on what English is, and they don't judge such change; in fact, they think it rather interesting and like it inasmuch as it keeps them in their jobs.

Needless to say, the descriptivists and prescriptivists have been fighting for years; in the academic English world, they are the Hatfields and McCoys, the Montagues and Capulets, the Sharks and Jets, the Blue Devils and Every Other Basketball Team. Now there is a movement that strives to cut the liguistic Gordian Knot by going the prescriptivists one better: The Original English Movement would return our language permanently to its form a millennium ago, at the time of the writing of Beowulf.

OEM would "fully embrac[e] the notion that English should not change--not now, not in the future, not even in the past." Of course, that means that we'll all be walking around talking like this:
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan. Þæt wæs god cyning.
Sounds reasonable enough to me. Credit for this find goes to Mrs. Good Reverend, the official language scholar of SuedO Apmuza.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

We Are the World

The Goo Goo Dolls, last relevant sometime around the movie City of Angels in 1998, are "help[ing the] relief effort" of Hurricane Katrina and CNN by plugging their new song over images of desperate victims. Because, after food, water, shelter, money, healthcare, a place to call home, a job, school, and relief from an ongoing plague of overlooked abject poverty, what the victims really need is washed-up, superficial, pseudo-emotional craprock.

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You may think that's just a question mark followed by an exclamation point. But it's not. It's an interrobang, or at least one way to represent it. You might use it when you're exclaiming a question, or asking an exclamation. It can also be represented this way:

The advent of the computer, and thus the presence of all these funny buttons at our fingertips, has given rise to the use and combination of punctuation in all sorts of creative ways. Twenty years ago, who would have thought that colon-hyphen-close parentheses would be a smiley? Don't worry, be happy.

I, for one, enjoy the creative punctuation for the most part. At the very least, I love the word "interrobang." My college roommate insisted there was a desperate need for a similar hybrid stop: something to indicate a question that ends in a clause that is not the end of the sentence. So he came up with the quomma, which looks like this:
That way you can wonder, how hard do TheGoodReverend's MS Paint skills rock?, without losing the impact of the question.

What other hybrid punctuation marks will be necessary in the near future?, I wonder. You think maybe hundreds?!

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Parasite for Sore Eyes

So there's this crustracean, or bug of the sea, called cymothoa exigua. It's a parasite, so you know this is going to be good. I hope you're not eating. This little bug(ger) crawls inside a fish's mouth and eats its tongue down to a stub. As if that's not horrible enough, cymothoa then attaches itself inside the mouth in place of the tongue so that it can take little pieces of whatever the fish eats. Poor fishy thinks he's just manipulating his tongue to get some food, but really he's waving around a frickin' crustacean. And if you're not disgusted enough yet, here's a picture:

And here's another one:

Link (via BoingBoing).

Remember, when you're swimming: eyes open, mouth closed. Happy Friday!

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Random Movie Quote Thursday

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,
forget everything you've seen on television.
There's not going to be any surprise,
last-minute witnesses.
Nobody's going to break down on the stand
with a tearful confession.
You're going to be presented with a simple fact:
Andrew Beckett was fired.
You'll hear two explanations as to why he was fired:
and theirs.
It's up to you to sift through layer upon layer of truth
until you determine for yourself
which version sounds the most true.
There's certain points I must prove to you.
Point number one:
Andrew Beckett is a brilliant lawyer, a great lawyer.
Point number two:
Andrew Beckett is afflicted
with a debilitating disease,
and it may be understandable,
maybe even plausible,
that he made the legal choice
to keep the fact of his secret to himself.
Point number three:
His employers discovered his illness,
and, ladies and gentlemen,
the illness I'm referring to is AIDS.
Point number four:
They panicked.
And in their panic,
they did what most of us would like to do with AIDS
which is to get it and everybody who has it
as far away from the rest of us as possible.
Now, the behavior of Andrew Beckett's employers may seem reasonable.
It does to me.
But no matter how you come to judge Charles Wheeler and his partners
in ethical, moral, and inhuman terms,
the fact of the matter is,
when they fired Andrew Beckett because he has AIDS,
they broke the law.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Gonna Go to the Place that's the Best


I think I have an instinctively positive reaction to the sight of footage from the 1960s set to blues rock. Forrest Gump really did it for me. Those Gatorade commercials with Keith Jackson talking over the riff from "Spirit in the Sky" while images of old football plays flash on the screen? Awesome. And now there's this Ameriquest commercial that sets stock clips of revelling hippies and marching protestors to "Gimme Some Lovin'," and, despite my better judgment, I love it.

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Pistol Shots Ring out in the Barroom Night

The tropical storm season ends in two and a half months, and already we're far enough along in the alphabet to have Hurricane Rita? What's going to happen if we get to the end of the list?

The National Hurricane Center comes up with names for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic from six alphabetical lists of names. They've got many other lists for cyclones in different regions of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The names used to be only women's names, but in 1979 they began alternating--if Arlene shows up, she'll be followed by Bret, and the following year's first storms will be Alberto and Beryl. These lists rotate, so the storms in 2011 will be roughly the same as those this year. Well it turns out the list doesn't even go all the way to Z. It stops with W and even then skips Q and U. Twenty-one names is all we get.

So what will we call the next storm after Tropical Storm Wilma runs its course? That's when the National Hurricane Center goes Greek--the following storms will be Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and so on.

Although the names are repeated, the names of storms so destructive that future use of the name would be insensitive are stricken and replaced. That's why there's no more Hugo and in 2004 we had Alex instead of Andrew. You can bet that by the time 2011 rolls around, we'll have Kaitlin or Kimberly instead of Katrina.

So what happens if we do go Greek this year and Hurricane Alpha comes ashore and kills a few people? Will we strike the letter from future references as well?

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Sunday, September 18, 2005



I saw this image the other day comparing the relative sizes of Alaska and the contiguous United States. Dude. The eastern tip is at about Savannah, the northern tip somewhere near Fargo, and the western tip is out near Santa Barbara. That is one big state you have there.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tap Tap

Is this thing on?

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Famous Problem-Solving Ideas

"Let them eat cake!" - attributed to Marie Antoinette, upon hearing that the French peasants were suffering from a bread shortage, Rheims, France, 1774.

"The good news is--and it's hard for some to see it now--that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house--he's lost his entire house--there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter)" - actually said by President George W. Bush, after learning of the destruction of the Gulf Coast caused by Hurricane Katrina, Mobile, Alabama, Sep. 2, 2005.

Via Tapped. For more problem solving, check out Things Bush Would Have Said on the Occasion of Other Disasters.

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Random Movie Quote Thursday

Now remember,
things look bad
and it looks like you're not gonna make it,
then you gotta get mean.
I mean plumb,
mad-dog mean.
'Cause if you lose your head
and you give up
then you neither live nor win.
That's just the way it is.

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