Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
“CBS should be ashamed for continually providing a forum to propagate lies. Consider the source of the most recent attention-getting lies -- those who would sell their body for money reflect a desperate need for attention and are likely to say and do anything for even more attention." -Sarah Palin, commenting on the father of her grandson Levi Johnston's decision to pose for Playgirl.
I completely agree...
And no, that isn't Photoshopped:
A 'monster' great white shark measuring up to 20 ft long is on the prowl off a popular Queensland beach, according to officials.
Swimmers were warned to stay out of the water off Stradbroke Island after the shark mauled another smaller great white which had been hooked on a baited drum line.
The 10-foot great white was almost bitten in half.
The fictional shark at the centre of the Steven Spielberg blockbuster Jaws was estimated to be just five feet longer.
We're gonna need a bigger boat.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I post this with no other impetus than that I was thinking of Michael the other night and wanted to watch it. On that note: Iman was perfect for this role. Eddie Murphey, not so much, and his headdress is completely ridiculous. Magic obviously gets a pass:
I miss ten minute videos like this.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Growing up in Texas taught me that Americans love their death penalties but I still find these kinds of numbers disturbing:
An October 13th Gallup Poll found that more than half of all Americans who support the death penalty believe that someone innocent has been executed in the past five years. (About two-thirds of Americans support capital punishment, a figure that has been steady for years.) David Dow, the director of the Innocence Project of Texas, argues that this is not surprising. "Most people, whether they’re death penalty supporters or not, are going to acknowledge that the system makes mistakes," he says. He argues that for capital punishment, as with everything else, it comes down to a cost question: can a state afford to execute people, with all the years of legal wrangling that usually entails?The economic argument made here is a good one but it's the ethical considerations that cause me to object to a state run death penalty. Now this is not to say that I don't believe that there aren't many good reasons to punish a criminal offender by killing them; that isn't my concern. What does bother me are the myriad flaws within our justice system that allow for innocent men and women to be executed: evidence tampering, inaccurate eye witnesses, crime scene contamination, dirty cops, etc. In the face of so many human flaws I just can not countenance putting the power of life and death over American citizens into the hands of our government.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Click the chart to enlarge. It's a fairly comprehensive comparison although being a self-described Libertarian-Socialist I personally don't subscribe to the popular perception that everyone in the United States is either totally on the left or on the right of the political spectrum. I agree with several of the tenets on the conservative end of the spectrum yet most of their core values seem way too extreme and anti-intellectual for me while I agree with most liberal values although several of their core principles strike me as extremely weak and ineffectual. Which I suppose goes a long way towards explaining why I belong to neither major political party.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Apparently this came out last month during the 9/11 anniversary but I've only seen it just now by way of a buddy:
(hat tip: Jeremy)
Religious sexual repression is always ugly but this is particularly disgusting:
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A Saudi court on Saturday convicted a female journalist for her involvement in a TV show, in which a Saudi man publicly talked about sex, and sentenced her to 60 lashes.That's right, all she did was help to prepare a program in which someone else talked about sex (those guys were also convicted of discussing sex publicly and sentenced to two years imprisonment and 300 lashes each). I have a hard time believing that we'd put up with this kind of ignorant bullshit if these people didn't live on a massive oil reserve.
Rozanna al-Yami is believed to be the first Saudi woman journalist to be given such a punishment. The charges against her included involvement in the preparation of the program and advertising the segment on the Internet.
This administration didn't start it and it's never been about "fair and balanced" journalism. Make no mistake: the anger expressed here is definitely real but it's not about principles. It's about having lost an election along with the power and control that accompany that, and now obstructionism and fear is all they have left:
Sad, yet still quite dangerous.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Regular readers may remember this video for Miles Fisher's Talking Heads cover in which he expertly apes Christian Bale's unhinged performance in American Psycho, as well as this video of Fisher doing an uncanny impression of Tom Cruise from Superhero Movie courtesy of reader one L
bil bill. Now comes this revelation from director Mary Harron:
How did you and Christian Bale develop his character in American Psycho?Telling, no? I like a lot of Cruise's movies but he's obviously a certified nutcase, although I'm sure some of that perception comes from the baffling American mindset that belief in aliens is crazy while belief in talking snakes and walking on water is completely plausible. It's all improbable magic to me, of course.
It was definitely a process. We talked a lot, but he was in L.A. and I was in New York. We didn’t actually meet in person a lot, just talked on the phone. We talked about how Martian-like Patrick Bateman was, how he was looking at the world like somebody from another planet, watching what people did and trying to work out the right way to behave. And then one day he called me and he had been watching Tom Cruise on David Letterman, and he just had this very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes, and he was really taken with this energy.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Get your ass to Mars:
Mars. There have to be little green men with ACME weapons living there. Or we have some incredibly bad luck when it comes to sending spacecrafts to the Red Planet. Most of them fail, for one reason or the other.A 52.4% failure rate is obviously nothing to celebrate (and let's be honest, those dirty Russkies were responsible for most of those) yet it's still a testament to the power and mystery of my second favorite planet that we continue to work towards an eventual manned mission, which I would totally go on as long as I could be a secret agent who saves the planet, gets the girl and turns the sky blue.
Zoom in to enjoy the graphic in HD
Out of 42 missions, only 20 have succeeded. That's less than 50% chance of survival. And it gets worse: Of those, only eight were actually programmed to land on Mars, which is actually the theoretically difficult part.
While the success rate increased after 1971, I would be very nervous if I were a budding astronaut wanting to go up there—and still, I wish I was that astronaut. Better go in style while trying to reach the glory, than staying down here, slowly turning to dust.
Shouldn't Cher and Celine Dion be the first ones asking this?:
A coalition of top musicians, including R.E.M. and Pearl Jam, want to know if their music was used by the U.S. military as part of controversial interrogation methods at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.Whenever I listen to right-wing talk radio I usually wonder during the breaks, "Would the White Stripes be happy if they knew that they were playing Bill O'Reilly on and off every day?"
The artists have endorsed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, which were filed Thursday morning, asking the U.S. government to declassify documents that would reveal which artists' work was used on detainees at U.S. prison facilities and military detention centers, including the one at Guantanamo Bay.
The National Security Archive, a Washington-based independent research institute that advocates "for the right to know," filed the requests on behalf of the Close Gitmo Now campaign, which launched this week, the archive's senior analyst Kate Doyle said.
The multimillion-dollar national grassroots Close Gitmo Now campaign is aimed at pressuring members of Congress to support President Obama's endeavor to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. It is supported by a coalition of retired generals and liberal activists.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
I've been fairly busy/sick over the course of the last week so I didn't really have much time to follow this story until it had all gone down and they supposedly found the kid safe and sound hiding in his own attic. So now it appears that his parents have aspirations toward careers as reality television stars and that it's likely that the entire incident was a publicity stunt for which they'll probably be charged with conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, attempting to influence a public servant and filing a false police report.
I'm of course glad that the kid was OK but I hope that the parents are made examples of for callously attempting to exploit the caring and goodwill of their fellow Americans. I'm getting pretty tired of this collective fascination we have with appearing on television for any reason and at all costs, even if it means sacrificing one's own integrity and dignity in the process. The actions of selfish idiots like this are one of many reasons other countries have lost respect for us in recent years, and frankly it's becoming rather embarrassing.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Earth, Jupiter and a few of their respective moons, all in the same frame:
Sometimes the planets line up in such a way that you can see Earth and Jupiter in the same wide-angle shot. That is, if you were aboard the Mars Global Surveyor on May 22, 2003. When the Mars Orbiter Camera snapped this unique view, Earth was 86 million miles away, and Jupiter was 600 million miles away.Too fucking cool. Here's a diagram showing how the shot was taken:
This really gives one an idea of how truly massive gas giants like Jupiter really are in comparison to our own planet.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Could you imagine making this kind of discovery?:
A smudged fingerprint has convinced art experts that a painting thought to have dated back to the early 19th century is the work of revered Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci.Apparently the left handed brush marks conform to da Vinci's style and the fingerprint was matched to two others on works he created during a solitary period of his life. The art world is now a bit richer. Man made or not, I love discoveries like this.
Little is known of the painting before it appeared in an illustrated Christie's catalogue in the late 1990s labeled as "German, 19th Century" under the name of "Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress."
It sold for $19,000 at the auction to respected New York art dealer Kate Ganz who kept it for 12 years before selling it on for a similar price in 2007. The work is now locked in a Swiss bank vault with an estimated value of more than $160 million.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I just saw a commercial for Christmas shopping. What the fuck?! I realize that we long ago stopped waiting until after Thanksgiving to accept having the Christmas season crammed down our throats and that the country needs the economic stimulus of holiday shopping now more than in years past but Halloween is still two and a half weeks away, for Christ's sake. Are the evermore encroaching and blatantly capitalistic Christmas holidays annoying you as much as they are me or am I just being too much of a Grinch on this count?
How can anyone not like this lovable pudgy pill-popper?:
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell failed to offer support of Rush Limbaugh's bid to buy the Rams on Tuesday and said the talk-show host's "divisive comments" would not be welcome in the league.Held to a high standard like murderers and serial dog abusers? I'm just as disgusted by the horrible things that Limbaugh says as anyone else and I have no problem seeing his ownership plans getting blocked by the NFL's owners but don't pretend that you're doing it out of adherence to some high and mighty ethical code. NFL football is as much a business as it is a sport. If they thought that adding Limbaugh to the league would make them more money make no mistake, they would.
"I've said many times before, we're all held to a high standard here," Goodell told reporters, via the New York Times.
"I would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL –- absolutely not."
Limbaugh said last week he's part of a group trying to buy the Rams. Colts owner Jim Irsay was the latest to express disapproval for Limbaugh's bid when he said he would not vote to approve such a deal. (NFL owners must vote to approve new owners of teams.)
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The sickness has been creeping up on me for several days now after having started as a small tickle in the back of my throat but it's now come on as a full blown nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever that prevents me from resting comfortably. At least it's cold and raining outside. *sigh* I promise to post what I can in between coughing spasms. And no, I don't think that it's H1N1 Swine Flu, despite my copious intake of bacon.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The trailer for the effects-laden disaster flick without the effects so that you can really concentrate on the greatness of the acting. The majority of this script must have just been the word "Aaaargh!" over and over again:
You can watch the entire trailer here.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Apologies for the lack of posts of late. As ever real life intrudes. I always wish that I could stop time for about 2-3 hours every night so that I could use that time exclusively for blogging but my personal mutant superpowers have yet to manifest themselves so until then I'm forced to operate within the constraints of ordinary space time. More tomorrow.
Friday, October 9, 2009
This was unexpected but congratulations to the president just the same. In my opinion this is a bit premature and I actually think it could hurt him domestically although it will most likely give him more respect and gravitas internationally, which seems to have been the Nobel committee's intent. Regardless, prepare yourselves for the right-wingosphere to officially go batshit crazy in 3, 2, 1...
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Some of my favorite scientific discoveries are those that we're still making within our own solar system:
The Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered the biggest but never-before-seen ring around the planet Saturn, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced late Tuesday.One of Saturn's outer moons orbits within the ring and is considered to be the source of its material. Makes me wonder what else is orbiting in our own backyard that we have yet to discover.
The thin array of ice and dust particles lies at the far reaches of the Saturnian system and its orbit is tilted 27 degrees from the planet's main ring plane, the laboratory said.
JPL spokeswoman Whitney Clavin said the ring is very diffuse and doesn't reflect much visible light but the infrared Spitzer telescope was able to detect it.
Although the ring dust is very cold — minus 316 degrees Fahrenheit — it shines with thermal radiation.
No one had looked at its location with an infrared instrument until now, Clavin said.
The bulk of the ring material starts about 3.7 million miles from the planet and extends outward about another 7.4 million miles.
The newly found ring is so huge it would take 1 billion Earths to fill it, JPL said.
The feeling of isolation this would invoke:
At about 100 meters from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger, Bruce McCandless II was farther out than anyone had ever been before. Guided by a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), astronaut McCandless, pictured above, was floating free in space. McCandless and fellow NASA astronaut Robert Stewart were the first to experience such an "untethered space walk" during Space Shuttle mission 41-B in 1984. The MMU works by shooting jets of nitrogen and has since been used to help deploy and retrieve satellites. With a mass over 140 kilograms, an MMU is heavy on Earth, but, like everything, is weightless when drifting in orbit. The MMU was replaced with the SAFER backpack propulsion unit.I can only imagine...
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The libertarian Cato Institute's Julian Sanchez delivers a point for point rebuttal to FOX News' coverage of the Patriot Act renewal:
Not even close to truthful. Yet for several million Americans this channel is their primary source for news coverage. Is it any wonder that many of us ridicule their opinions and so-called "facts" as wholly inaccurate and grossly irresponsible? Remember this the next time you're debating someone who comes at you from this side of the ideological aisle. Fair and balanced, my ass.
Jon Stewart explains why Sean Hannity is the Delta Smelt of political commentators:
This is why I can never take the global climate change deniers/anti-environmentalists seriously: They reduce vastly complicated scientific fields and subjects to the simplest of populist arguments without ever even trying to understand the science behind them and then expect their arguments to be given the same legitimacy as those of people who actually study and specialize in those fields. Want to know something about medicine? Ask a doctor. Taxes? Ask an accountant. Climate change? Ask a climatologist. Partisan political douchebaggery? OK, now ask Hannity. Trust the experts.
It's just as if a late-eighties Howard Stern and the former Christian rock band Creed joined forces to create a symphony of jingoistic cheesiness:
And let me get this straight: All angels are Americans? I love the Internets.
For the past few days I've been getting several hits from the same location in the great state of Missouri. It turns out that Brain Rage is now a required part of the curriculum for a Career Development in Psychology course at Southern Missouri State University. Now to be fair the week seven syllabus link is to this post featuring a Daily Show segment about the uselessness of cable news show texting polls but I assume that it's only a matter of time before this little blog of mine fully explodes on the academic scene. SMSU is probably just a few notches below Harvard on the national collegiate rankings, ya?
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
This is interesting although hardly surprising:
Apparently God can't see you when you're surfing the Net alone in your own home. So as I see it there are two explanations for this behavior: 1) There is a supernatural fallen angel who's been trying to take down the Mormon religion with pornography since it was created a century and a half ago, or 2) Human beings are intrinsically sexual creatures and most efforts by religious organizations to dampen this natural sex drive will eventually fail, regardless of what kind of underwear those people are forced to wear. Just saying...
Saturday night in downtown Salt Lake City and many people are talking about porn in Utah. David Clark Jr. of Provo said, ‘I believe that since this is the true church Satan works harder on members.’
Elder Richard G. Scott at General Conference Saturday spoke similar words about pornography. Scott said,’ This potent tool of Lucifer degrades the mind and heart and soul of any who use it.’
Some say people in Utah are vieweing porn more than any other state in the country after a study earlier this year by a Harvard economics professor. Professor Benjamin Edelman tracked subscriptions to online porn sites. He discovered that Utah is number one in the nation in online porn.
I knew that it had been a daunting obstacle at the time but I actually had no idea that it was quite so intricate a structure:
I visited pieces of this former cold war landmark several years ago but I couldn't really get a feel for just how menacing it really was at the time. In fact, I nonchalantly purchased a replica KGB pocket watch on the East German side of Checkpoint Charlie but viewing this digital recreation has given me a much more sobering look at this monument to communist oppression.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
One of my little sisters is a dentist and I've never smoked meth amphetamines so perhaps I'm a bit biased on this count, but nonetheless:
In a country in denial about class divisions, a mangled mouth is the clearest indication of second-class citizenship. Missing or rotting teeth are like a scarlet T, declaring their owner to be trash. Sered and Fernandopulle describe the way that a group of well-meaning Idaho women who volunteered at clinics and early childhood development programs judged "those people" who weren't able to get dental care for themselves or for their children. "These middle-class women," they wrote, "identified bad teeth as a sign of poor parenting, low educational achievement, and slow or faulty intellectual development." When Stu Price, Ed Helms' character in The Hangover, wakes up in Las Vegas and discovers he is missing a front tooth, his horrified response is to declare, "I look like a nerd hillbilly." Every lazy screenwriter knows how to label a character as a menacing half-wit: give him gnarly teeth and a sleeveless T-shirt.I didn't get braces when I was younger because I was afraid of looking like a nerd (which was stupid because I did anyway) so I got laminates to fill in my gaps when my sister was going through dental school later in life. In my opinion, having nice teeth is more important for success in American society than either one's race or income.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
This is one beautiful photo:
You're looking at the 253.2-foot Delta 4-Heavy lifting off from launch complex 37B at Cape Canaveral, and yes, that's actually a photograph. Good thing the camera was remotely triggered by photographer Ben Cooper, who used sound activation to snap this shot while he was safely ensconced 3 miles away.Now imagine what it must feel like to sit on top of one of these bad boys as you ascend into space. Too cool.
We feel sorry for that camera, though, whose lens was destroyed. The good news is, the camera itself somehow survived this hellish inferno as the world's tallest unmanned rocket roared away from its launchpad. This is such a spectacular photo, we thought at first it was an illustration. Nice work, Mr. Cooper.
"This is the type of propaganda you would see in Stalin's Russia or Kim Jong Il's North Korea. I never thought the day would come when I'd see it here in America. This is the type of fanaticism Republicans are up against as we fight to stop the Obama Democrats' radical leftist transformation of America." -Michael Steele, in a fundraising letter, referring to a video of schoolchildren singing about President Obama.
These people are absolutely shameless and they obviously don't give a shit about this country or its people.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Hao Xianzhang, a local famer, spent six years to perfect the process by growing the pears inside moulds, local media reported. The pears cost around 50 yuan (7.32 USD) each.I've never really been a big fan of pears but I'd be all about a Zeus-shaped watermelon. The Southern United States and Greece need to collaborate on this one.