Sep 30, 2009

The Appalachian Trail

I'm about to finish Bill Bryson's wonderful A Walk in the Woods, and reading it has spurred my interest in hiking. Not that I would consider walking the entire AT, but it would be nice to take a week to see how well I could handle the rigors of such a journey. Here is a picture from the trail, taken near the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

Sep 29, 2009

Enjoy Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

Banned Books Week started September 26 and will run through October 3 this year. When we talk about banned works, we're not just talking about works that came out last year, or the year before that. In the list of challenged classics, you'll find 'To Kill A Mockingbird' alongside 'The Catcher in the Rye' and 'Lolita'.

Books on the list are not necessarily government censored, but they happen to be "challenged" by parents to administrators who, worried about mollifying parents, try to take the offending title out of the library. Many titles on the list are there mostly by reputation, like a popular band releasing a new album each year that you just know is going straight to number 1.

With that in mind, I'd like to repeat a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, who gave librarians across this country their due for keeping challenged books on the shelves of the local institutions:

And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

So celebrate this week by reading one of the banned works, or else by recommending one to a friend or colleague. You can also visit The American Library Association to learn more.

Sources: [ALA Banned Books Week]
[I Love You, Madame Librarian]

Quote Magnetism - Be Careful What You Quote...

If you often find yourself quoting famous figures - who also seem to have more quotes attributed to them than time to speak the words - then you may be more wrong than you are erudite or smart. I'm certainly guilty of this psuedo-intellectual misattribution, but I'm not the only one, apparently. At least according to, it happens all the time:

That Mark Twain was something else, wasn’t he? He said so many memorable things, like “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes” and “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” What a writer, what a guy.

Unfortunately—even though Twain is the great American humorist—he didn’t say either of those things. Twain is what scholar Fred Shapiro calls a “quote magnet,” someone who receives credit for sayings and proverbs that never passed their lips or pens. Also called “Churchillian drift” by Nigel Rees, quote magnetism is a common phenomenon that infects everything from student papers to political speeches, and respected books of quotations aren’t immune. As quote experts Rees and Shapiro have shown, “So-and-so said” are some of the least trustworthy words in the language.

The article goes on to talk about reasons for this particular brand of passive intellectual laziness, and the common ingredient seems to be, well, commonness. According to the article, "In America, Shapiro said that “people associated with folksiness” such as Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Yogi Berra are the big quote magnets."

145 mi to the "Farthest" McDonald's

This graph - made by Stephen Von Worley - has been circulating for the last few days, but I decided to post it so the last dark corners of the internet for posterity's sake. The orange dots represent the McDonald's in the country, and the (few) darks spaces where no McDonald's exist. As you can see, there are very few parts of the US uninhabited by at least one Golden Arches.

To be fair, McDonald's unfairly receives ire for its unabashed takeover of every strip mall, interstate exit off-ramp, and city street in America. But it is a symbol for a certain kind of corporatism, and it is by far the most visible, so there you go.

Through his research, Von Worley discovered that the farthest distance from a McDonald's is an astounding 145 miles:

For maximum McSparseness, we look westward, towards the deepest, darkest holes in our map: the barren deserts of central Nevada, the arid hills of southeastern Oregon, the rugged wilderness of Idaho’s Salmon River Mountains, and the conspicuous well of blackness on the high plains of northwestern South Dakota. There, in a patch of rolling grassland, loosely hemmed in by Bismarck, Dickinson, Pierre, and the greater Rapid City-Spearfish-Sturgis metropolitan area, we find our answer.

Between the tiny Dakotan hamlets of Meadow and Glad Valley lies the McFarthest Spot: 107 miles distant from the nearest McDonald’s, as the crow flies, and 145 miles by car!

What Does Your Bookshelf Say About You?

Why is it that we store books in such a public fashion? Of course, we don't line up a row of shelves on our front lawn to show off that copy of The Riverside Shakespeare, but our bookshelves do seem to convey something to anyone who enters our home. Plenty of bibliophiles I know tend to showcase the books they're "proudest" of in the living room, and the others with less prestige (though still enjoyed) are housed on a separate, more private shelf.

I do the same thing at my house. I'll display even my most treasured genre books above those that I'm not necessarily as proud to own. Why is that? What is it about a book collection that lends itself to such public display? Why not store them?

It's an intriguing question to ask, and an article on the BBC site delves headlong into the phenomenon:

And yet, more than 500 years after the invention of the printing press, the importance and value of keeping books is showing no sign of waning. The internet was supposed to spell the end of the printed word - instead one of its earliest success stories was an online book shop, Amazon.

It's hard to escape the theory that there is an exhibitionist side to our bookcase obsession - it's about showing off how much you have read, or plan to read, or pretend to have read. You are subtly suggesting that you are the sort of person who keeps Finnegans Wake handy, for example, just in case you ever fancy dipping in for a quick, albeit incomprehensible, catch-up.

I am somewhat of a book exhibitionist, with not one, but six, fully stocked bookshelves in my living room alone. I would rather have them out in plain sight than in a box somewhere collecting dust. Part of it is that I see little value in storing what I do not use on a consistent basis, but also because I am, indeed, proud of my little collection of bound adventures. Somehow, I feel as though they are, like pictures from a vacation, proof of my enduring adventures, evidence of where I have been and who I am because of the books I have read. It may be a little off, but what isn't?

Billy Bookcases on
[IMG Source=Stewart Butterfield]

Banned XBox 360 Commercial

Self-censorship sometimes takes some very strange forms, as indicated in the above 360 "ad" (if it never aired, could it really be advertising anything?) from 2007. Ostensibly, the commercial advocated violence and was stopped from being aired in the first place.

In a strictly business sense, I completely understand the reason for shelving the advertisement. Having people engage in fake gunplay makes the company more liable for unsavory outcomes attributed to video games, and it also simultaneously makes Microsoft look insensitive to those who lose family members and friends in violent situations.

However, it's a clever, essentially uncontroversial ad that pokes fun at adulthood and "play". And it contains a healthy dose of irony, something this country has been loathe to understand recently. It's a shame to me that the gaming industry need to walk on eggshells, due mostly to its perception in the eyes of parents and the media. Isn't stylized violence what gamers partake in every day? Do children not "play war" in neighborhoods across the country? Well, maybe not, but still...

Sep 28, 2009

New 'Nightmare' Trailer

So the new 'Nightmare' trailer has been released, and it actually looks pretty good. Jackie Earle Haley definitely has the cred to pull of Freddy, but the rest of the cast looks kind of...vanilla. Tame. Perhaps that was the purpose. It does look entertaining, though.

One thing I noticed - and I may be mistaken here - but from the trailer it looks as though the movie might (like the Friday reboot) tackle the first two movies in a single go. I saw elements from the original and another scene at a party that looked vaguely reminiscent of the second movie. Could be.

Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox-Arquette, and David Arquette have all signed on to do 'Scream 4', and Bob Weinstein has approached Wes Craven to direct, says Variety. The movie will be the first installment into what they hope to be a trilogy.

Looks like the Halloween franchise isn't done, even if Rob Zombie is done with it. Rumor is the third installment will shoot in 3D, as will 'Scream 4'.

[Dimension Goes Back to Its Roots]

Victorian Undead

I just saw over at some hype for Victorian Undead, a comic premiering next month that features Sherlock Holmes and his erstwhile compadre Dr. Watson during the zombie apocalypse.

It seems like an awesome steampunk-meets-zombies collaboration, and I, for one, look forward to seeing it. The comic hits stores November 18.

[img source: shootforthehead]

President Obama Advocates for Longer School Days/Years

The argument for a longer school year is heating up, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan seems to support the idea of a year-round school fully. "Go ahead and boo me," Duncan said in April to Denver students. "I think schools should be open six, seven days a week, eleven, twelve months a year (from The Atlantic).

The Obama-Duncan model would have schools open later in the afternoons and on weekends, so that students would have a "safe place" to go, and also for longer periods in the year, up to 11 months as Duncan suggested.

It's not an entirely new argument, though support for it is ramping up due to sagging US test scores.

There are a lot of moving parts in the argument for a longer school year, though the central one seems to revolve around using an outmoded agrarian model has put us behind other countries in the 21st century. To a lot of the supporters, there seems to be little room for a compromise, an intermediate length between 180 days and 290.

Conor Clarke, a correspondent from 'The Atlantic' has more to say on the historical reasons for summer vacation:

The long summer break, moreover, doesn't even pretend to have a rational basis in educational policy. It's a response to (1) inadequate farming schedules; (2) the mid-20th century's lack of air conditioning; (3) the mid-20th century's fear of summertime disease transmission; and (4) the no-doubt timeless desire to mimic the summertime vacation habits of the rich.
Source: The Atlantic

Clarke's argument seems a bit specious. The idea that a longer school term will help students ignores the quite real possibility that students have already been overburdened with structure in the school in the first place, and that placing them for even longer periods would, in essence, cause a more intense and prolonged burnout, which would be counterproductive to learning.

The real problem isn't how long students are in school but how we are educating them, because quantity doesn't necessarily quality. It seems more like an oversimplification of the multiple problems facing our educational system. What we should perhaps do is create a school environment more akin to what most students will see after graduation. More computers and computer access, some instruction/classes based on real-life situations, and perhaps a more fluid, malleable idea of "success", rather than demanding that college is the only route to a successful career.

Another likely issue in the fight is teacher pay. Would pay go up for teachers spending that much more time in school, or would their ostensible "hourly" wage go down? If the average teacher makes 33,000/year - and we'll use that figure as an estimate - if we went from a 180 day school-year to a 240 day school-year, that's a 30% increase. A teacher making 33K would need an additional 11K in compensation to make pay equal time increased.

And what about property taxes? Unless I'm mistaken, property taxes pay for local schools, and with a rise in costs for schools, property taxes would also go up, along with the overall cost of schooling.

While education cold probably use more funding, our system would probably benefit more from a smarter use of government funds rather than a precipitous incline in them. Neither President Obama nor Secretary Duncan has mentioned how much instruction testing and test-prep has taken away from teachers and students. The system itself right now is entirely too inefficient, and efforts to rectify that would hopefully have a more lasting impact than an 11-month curriculum.

UPDATE (10/6/09):

Arnie Duncan went on 'The Colbert Report' last night, advocating for the longer school year.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Arne Duncan
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

'28 Days Later' in One Minute

I know that one minute re-enactments of less-than-decade old films may seem a bit too high school drama-y and quite overly nostalgic, but that sort of sums up America, I think. The above vid is '28 Days Later' in one minute - if you couldn't or didn't read the post title - and the below vid is 'Kill Bill, Parts 1 AND 2' in under a minute. If you enjoyed these brief productions, head over to College Humor to watch them again. Apparently, they'll make money if you watch them enough times.

Sep 27, 2009

A No-Blog Weekend

I have been too immersed in the worlds of 'BioShock' and college football and grad school to blog this weekend. I'll be back to blogging full-time on Monday. Thanks! :)

Sep 25, 2009

New Dethklok Album 9/29 - Streaming Live NOW!

If you visit the Dethklok MySpace page, you can experience the entire second album - streaming online in its entirety - right now.

A Monster Machine Transport

Wow. Reading the statistics make this video even more astounding to behold. I can't even imagine the logistical nightmare it would require to transport this machine, nor can I envision being a member of the group travelling alongside the behemoth.

My question is: how did they get the steam generator onto the trailer? Imagine the crane (or whatever) it would take to be able to pick up something that weighs 1,000,000 lbs. and drop it on a trailer. It just boggles the mind to contemplate it. Still, this is an interesting video.

Zombies: A Record of the Year Infection

Zombies are a pet fancy of mine (did I just say that? I think I did), and so in my quest for all things zombie, I run across items just outside the mainstream. Zombie fandom, I think, is like the punk rock of horror, though I could totally be mistaken about that. It makes sense in this context, though: people into zombies tend to go to drastic lengths to get their love of the undead out of their systems.

To hell with mohawks; mohawks haven't been punk rock since 1978. Try walking around Sunset Blvd holding a rare steak, with fake blood pouring down the front of your shirt, just for SNGs. That's something people actually do (see zombie walks.

Another thing people do is create art and fiction to illustrate a love for the walking dead. Some of it hits the bestseller lists - see Max Brooks - but most of it does not. But the DIY spirit of the whole thing is commendable, and when I find something that's different, if not *gasp* good, then I get the same kind of rush I got in high school, when I picked up a band no one else had heard of.

So, I present Zombies: A Record of the Year Infection. I found out about it over at, so I'm not exactly the Hernando De Soto of zombie swag, but this is pretty low-profile. Here's some more info:

ombies: A Record of the Year of Infection, actually written by Don Roff and illustrated by Chris Lane, purports to be the account of Dr. Robert Twombly, a physician who was working in a hospital during the first wave of the zombie outbreak. In addition to chronicling his weeks of improbably survival, Twombly also tries to understand the zombies, keeping careful records of their decay, behavior, and abilities, while trying to figure out what caused the outbreak in the first place.

A Diary of the Zombie Outbreak

Hammer and Feather Drop on Moon

The idea that, given ideal conditions, a hammer and feather would drop at the same rate in a vacuum wasn't originally proposed with space exploration. As the video suggests, it happened hundreds of years before, with Italian thinker Galileo, who said that, due to a lack of air resistance, a hammer and feather would fall at exactly the same rate.

On the Berto: Philosophy Monkey blog, the proposal is illustrated more in-depth:

He argued, contra the Aristotelian model, that falling bodies of different weights (say, a feather and a hammer) should not fall at different speeds. Any differences, he thought, could be wholly attributed to air resistance slowing down the feather.

Now, trying to find a font of objective knowledge on the subject is futile, bordering on impossible, because the overwhelming majority of sites exploring the thought experiment are dedicated to entirely debunking it (and the idea that we went to the moon in the first place). Including, I might add, the esteemed and highly reputable science source, as opposed, of course, to the highly reputable blog, Jinx Protocol.

Sep 24, 2009

An ATM for Books

The two Google Guys are standing in front of what they call the Espresso Book Machine, which is designed to print and bind books from Google's wide collection of public domain works, so that the average person doesn't have to read it all on a computer screen.

According to the manufacturer:

This is what we call an ATM for books. It can make a library quality paperback book within minutes for under a penny a page. Imagine a reader going out onto a web site, clicking on one of the Google public domain titles, and within minutes the book is printed out.

PC World has more to say on the subject:

On Demand's deal with Google puts approximately two million public domain books from Google's digitized book collection--Google Books--into Espresso Book Machines, which you could then print off at your local library, bookstore, or coffee shop.

There's no official word on how much a single book will cost, but the Associated Press is reporting the average price will be about $8. Google and On Demand Books will each take a dollar from every transaction, and donate the rest of the proceeds to charity, the AP says.

What this is going to end up hurting is places like Barnes and Noble and Borders, which sell copies of, say, 'Pride and Prejudice' for 9.95 a pop from their respective company-owned publishers. The advance in technology may end up hurting big-chain bookstores, but I am interested to see where this kind of idea takes us, and what the future might yield.

Google Bringing Rare Books to Paperback
Google Books: Classic Books Available via the Espresso Book Machine

iNudge - Music Anybody Can Make

I've been wasting my morning fiddling around with a site called, whose slogan is "Everyone Can Create Music." That certainly is true. All you have to do is click separate boxes within the grid on the screen and modify based on the way it sounds. There are several different and distinct types of instrument. It's pretty addictive, but I imagine there are some puh-retty untalented people out there trying this (finger pointed directly at self).

I don't know exactly what it is that I created - some kind of world music for a terrible video game - but I have to admit that it's hard not to get pulled into orchestrating some elaborate song mix, that, of course, subsequently turns into what you hear above. I apologize, notes. Please forgive me.

Sep 23, 2009

99 Problems / 99 Red Balloons Mash-Up

Who knows if this will be up for very long due to some form of infringement, but while it is, check it out. It's a wonderful mash-up of Jay-Z's '99 Problems' and Nena's '99 Luftballoons', and I definitely give it my thumbs-up. There are plenty of '99 Problems' mixes out there, but this one is by far the best I've found.

Personally, I'm not crazy about the chorus, but otherwise the two versions work so well together. It reminds me of when Danger Mouse made The Gray Album, a mixture of Jay-Z's Black Album and The Beatles' White Album. Oh, those days were so innocent, when only one ostensibly illegal album could cause such an uproar. Imagine if the music industry of 2004 could take a peek into 2009. What would It think?

And there's also Beatallica, which sort of counts.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson - On Intelligent Design

Neil DeGrasse Tyson can explain just about everything in easy-to-grasp terms. He's a natural communicator, as well as a brilliant scientist, and unlike plenty of other scientists, his astounding intelligence doesn't come off as smarmy or arrogant, which is a plus, in my book.

Here, Tyson discusses how the Universe is not here for our benefit. Indeed, it's about as hostile to humans as any place could be, give or take. I'm not sure if he goes into talking about the Earth - he talks plenty about the Universe as a whole - but the Earth's lack of habitable space is worth mentioning here.

People always talk about what an amazing fit humans and the Earth are, but they don't think of how little of the planet we are able to inhabit. It's a very small percentage, when discussed on the whole. It's not that being here at all isn't amazing. It is. It truly is, but that's just the point.

Plus, we live on an environmental knife-edge, where it is very likely for the balance to teeter in one direction or the other and cause the extinction of the entire human race, so our collective happiness should rest on the fact that we are here at all and not on just how much we mean to the rest of the Universe. Think about it like this: if the Earth was struck by a meteor the size of, say, Mt. Kilimanjaro, then we'd all be gone and the rest of the Universe would just keep plugging along.

Watchmen: Ultimate Cut Adds 'Black Freighter'

I just read over at BamKapow! that Warner Bros. is releasing another, even-fuller version of the movie, complete - now - with the Black Freighter thrown in for good measure. I knew I should have waited.

I knew I should have waited. In my impulsiveness, I couldn't help but get the Blu-Ray version the first time around. But I can't be completely to blame, since it came out two days before my birthday, and with no one to buy it for me, really, I had to do something, right?

Here is some more info from The Examiner:

Along with this updated version of the film, Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut, will also include two all new commentaries by Director Zack Snyder and Illustrator Dave Gibbons and over 3 hours of special features (see specs below), along with the complete collection of the Watchmen motion comics.

It hits stores November 3, 2009.

Pop Culture Vampire Amnesia

I just read an article over on that makes a very valid point: When have we not been in the midst of a vampire craze? It's not really that we have been completely in a craze, either. There is a spectrum, and we're at one end at present moment, but the visibility of vampires has been apparent for quite some time now. It's a pop culture amnesia, where the culture as a whole looks up and sees fangs and goes, "Oh, hey, vampires. Cool!"

Part of it goes back to the fact that THE MEDIA truly does become a single entity in certain ways when it is nothing more than an echo chamber. One outlet notices something resembling a trend, and then the entirety of the media starts to shout from the mountaintops that, by gum, they have found the next new trend. Found!

'Noticed' is more like it. At best. And perhaps we should be thinking about vampires in terms of ebb and flow, rather than a complete dropping off and resurgence. Sure, zombies took center stage there for a while in the early 00s, but vampires were never far away. Think of the 'Underworld' franchise, as well as 'Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter' and 'Blade' nestling just beneath the surface of the slow-moving (and short-lived) undead parade.

Looking back, it's hard to think of a period when we weren't in the middle of a vampire craze. In the late 1970s, Anne Rice started raking in the money with Interview With the Vampire, and movies like Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre and the comedy Love at First Bite were critical hits. Then came The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Innocent Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie), four more Anne Rice books, and Interview With the Vampire (the movie)—which could all be lumped into a rage for vampires that lasted clear through from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. Vampires were back again in the mid-1990s, with Buffy (the TV show), the Blade movies, Southern Vampire Mysteries (the book series), and From Dusk Till Dawn. And now we've arrived at the highly touted mid- to late-2000s vogue of Underworld, Twilight (books and movies), True Blood (based on Southern Vampire Mysteries), and The Vampire Diaries.

The longest drought seems to be the early 80s, between the release of Anne Rice's 'Interview with the Vampire' and the 1987 hipster vampire film 'The Lost Boys', though the somewhat dry 80s gave way to a resurgence in popularity in the 1990s, and 'Buffy', in the late 90s, became quintessential high school vampire lore long before Edward and Bella stalked the halls of Forks High School.

Iguanas of the Galapagos Islands

The Richard Dawkins Foundation YouTube page has been uploading a series of videos featuring Richard Dawkins from around the world, explaining various examples of evidence for evolution. They are quite possibly in an effort to promote his new book, The Greatest Show on Earth, but it could also have been filmed as a result of research for the book itself.

Each video is only 2-3 minutes long and doesn't go into much depth, as far as evolutionary processes go, but the videos are wondrous in that they show species of animals that many of us will not see in our lifetimes.

Sep 22, 2009

Cops Take a 'Wii' Little Break During Drug Raid

The cops in the above video decided that, to combat the boredom of a DRUG RAID, they would relax and play Nintendo Wii Bowling. For NINE hours.

It's a shame, yes. A waste of taxpayer dollars, definitely. Understandable, considering? Oh, good grief yes. Wii Bowling used to be a-ddictive.

Food Advertising Versus Reality

So sad. The Guardian UK has a wonderful gallery of food that looks different in reality than in advertising. This, to no one, should come as a shocker, but it's still kind of sad, considering how tantalizing the food look on television or in print. In the gallery, you'll see examples from Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonald's, and Arby's, among others.

That being said, I've never gotten home with Taco Bell nachos and exclaimed, "These don't look like they do on TV! I want my 1.27 back!" I believe it's called selling the sizzle and not the steak, and fast food companies are quite possibly the most adept of any companies at it. Looking back, I can't count how many sorry excuses for food I've shoveled down my throat without really tasting and not thought twice about the difference in advertising and reality.

And perhaps the food companies are vilified a little too often. One can argue whether or not they inject their food with nicotine (or whatever passes for addictive these days), but they only make the food available, cheap, and easily accessible for the masses. Plus, it provides all the things we, as humans, crave biologically: salts, fats, and sugars. See, to go on a small tangent, we have not evolved to the point that our bodies think of these substances as less than rare, so we are sort of programmed to gobble them up. Talking about all this food has indeed made me hungry...

Nic Cage Superman Photos Leaked, er, Released

If you have never heard Kevin Smith tell the story of the Superman movie that never was, then you should rent 'An Evening with Kevin Smith'. Now.

Ostensibly, Kevin Smith was signed on to do the script for a reboot of the franchise, entitled 'Superman Lives', though after Tim Burton was hired to direct - and apparently Tim Burton and Kevin Smith don't see eye-to-eye - Smith was canned. No blame. The story Smith related could have well been fudged a hair to support his story, and that's all right.

But it still does not explain the photos of Nic Cage in Kal-El's gear, now does it? Nic Cage may seem a strange choice for the Man of Steel, but you must remember what kind of uber-fan the guy is. He even named his son Kal-El (I kid you not!), so that may explain some of the oddness of the situation.

You can also read the Kevin Smith-penned script at script-o-rama.

Sep 21, 2009

Debunking ALL Scientific Illiteracy

Source: Brad Levin, cropped from linux-works

It's often the case that right-wingers are cited for their woefully half-baked pseudo-scientific claims, but celebrities and commentators on the left side of the aisle are often left alone for one reason or another. Hypocrisy is a bitter tonic, though, and so letting it slide from one source because we generally agree is just unacceptable as unfairly lambasting the opposing side.

As you've probably guessed from the content of the picture, today's subject is Bill Maher, who is as avid in his endorsement of "alternative" medicine as Jenny McCarthy is in denying children necessary vaccinations. Much of Maher's rantings about natural or alternative medicine can be dismissed with a singular eye roll, because it even seems to fall on deaf ears in the company of his guests and studio audiences, but he makes one dangerous claim (in the Overtime with Bill Maher segment) that really needs to be addressed. Namely, that cancer research has not gone anywhere in the last fifty years. He says:

"The shit we've tried for the last 50 years doesn't [work]. I know they've made no progress as far as cancer in this country. So, yes, there are people who actually go out of this country when they get cancer. Some of them come back alive after a death sentence. But in this country you can't talk about that. I might get arrested right now."

Science blogger Orac, on his blog, Respectful Insolence, discusses the point of cancer research at length:

Bill's other problem is a common one. Like all too many people, he appears to view cancer as one disease. It's not. In some cancers, we've made enormous progress in the last 50 years. For instance, most leukemias and lymphomas were death sentences 50 years ago. Now many of them are highly treatable and even curable. Lest you think that I'm cherry picking the easy, another example is colorectal cancer. For patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, for example, the time of survival and quality of life can both be significantly improved by the new generation of chemotherapeutic, antiangiogenic, and targeted therapies, as The Cheerful Oncologist pointed out two years ago.

I'm not a scientist, so I cannot speak to these claims with my own data, but I can research the hell out of this stuff if need be. Maher's problem - and I'm a big fan of him and Real Time, BTW - is that he, just like people on the other end of the spectrum, replace knowledge with belief and allow dogma to lead their thinking. Bill Maher believes that practicing alternative medicine (and getting rid of "toxins") is a viable option, rather than taking prescribed medications and listening to professionals. There really is little scientific evidence to support his claims about, but he states them as fact and impugns the very people who have made great advances in medicine over the last few decades.

Richard Dawkins's Wonderful Show

Tomorrow, September 22, marks the release of (sort of) controversial author Richard Dawkins's new book, The Greatest Show on Earth. The book, unlike his 2006 jeremiad The God Delusion, doesn't rail necessarily against organized religion. He seems to accomplished what he set out to do with that book.

Rather, Dawkins takes on the seemingly unnecessary task of highlighting the scientific evidence for evolution in the natural world. You would think there would be less resistance to these claims than the ones posited in God Delusion, but that's not necessarily the case. It seems as though his travels across the world - especially the U.S. - have made him quite pessimistic about the level of the average person's scientific literacy. A denial of evolution, based mostly on religious claims, is the central problem here. The review on Amazon explains it well:

He explains that all of his previous books have naïvely assumed the fact of evolution, which meant that he never got around to laying out the evidence that it [evolution] is true. This shouldn't be too surprising: science is an edifice of tested assumptions, and just as physicists must assume the truth of gravity before moving on to quantum mechanics, so do biologists depend on the reality of evolution. It's the theory that makes every other theory possible. Yet Dawkins also came to realize that a disturbingly large percentage of the American and British public didn't share his enthusiasm for evolution. In fact, they actively abhorred the idea, since it seemed to contradict the Bible and diminish the role of God. So Dawkins decided to write a book for these history-deniers, in which he would dispassionately demonstrate the truth of evolution beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt.

Sep 20, 2009

The N64 Kids - A Follow-Up

You know 'em. They're the excited scamps who went apeshit over getting a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, and the video was all over the internet for a while. They were, without a doubt, the most unabashedly enthusiastic children to ever get a N64 and have the video of them receiving it turn into a viral video. Inside Edition tracked them down eight years later and did an interview with them. Here is that interview.

Absurdist Lit. May Make You Smarter

Source: H.-P.Haack

Think that Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' did nothing for your well-being but confuse you and/or drop your grade in a lit class? Well, a) you may be wrong, and b) that might be good for you to encounter the work:

Psychologists Travis Proulx of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Steven Heine of the University of British Columbia report our ability to find patterns is stimulated when we are faced with the task of making sense of an absurd tale. What's more, this heightened capability carries over to unrelated tasks.

It seems as though our brains are hard-wired to make sense of things, so this study shouldn't come as a real, true surprise to anybody. If you have a personal beef against Franz Kafa, well, then you're not alone. I remember the groans in my ENGL 3800 class, too. But reading it may, may, MAY have some bard flee flum this is not a blog station courage incident banana peel firecracker. See what I mean? I just upped your IQ.

Source: This is Your Brain on Kafka

Pareidolia - Why We See Faces in Things :-)

Source: Marco Annunziata

Pareidolia seems like the name for an obscure sex crime, but in fact it is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse.

It's the reason why the above picture can look simultaneously like a face and...whatever in the world it actually is. It's why this :) or this :-) or even this :D can look like a face out of context. It's really an amazing phenomenon, and it also proves how easily our brains can be "tricked" into seeing something that is not actually there.

Here is another example:

The above picture looks, to some, like a person or other creature clinging to the side of the tree. I think you get the point, but it makes for an interesting take on reality. I, myself, am not very hard-wired to see faces in inanimate objects. I will if prompted - for example, if I visit a web site like the wonderful blog 'Faces in Places' - but I do not, in general, see objects as other things well.

A biological supposition - put forth by Carl Sagan - posits that we are genetically "hard-wired" for this kind of action. From Wikipedia:

Carl Sagan hypothesized that as a survival technique, human beings are "hard-wired" from birth to identify the human face. This allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor visibility but can also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces.

Zelda: A Link to the Past Commercial

Sometimes I wish I lived in Japan. This commercial - circa 1991 - gives lip service to hip-hop AND Peter Pan somehow, considering I think the Link in the video is actually a girl. The video itself looks like a throwaway "dark" Disney set, and the dancing is about as representative as dancing can get, especially with the strange bunny-hopping about halfway through. Nevertheless, it's still pretty funny, and in my estimation there can never be too many videos that represent a more innocent time in my memory.

Hollis Mason Does Exist

Real-life heroes do exist, and this one happens to live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The customer, on seeing the bank robber, bounded over a few velvet ropes in order to tackle the would-be criminal, holding him down until police arrived. The suspect, and I kid you not, was named Sinister (sic) Smith, though I could have spelled it incorrectly.

According to the video, when asked why, he replied that his wife was nearby, and he was worried about her safety. I wonder, not out of facetiousness, if this guy ever played football, because that was one helluva form tackle he pulled off there.

Sep 19, 2009

'Bored to Death' Trailer

Here is a brief synopsis of the new HBO series, 'Bored to Death', premiering Sunday night at 9:30 pm:

Jonathan Ames, a young Brooklyn writer, is feeling lost. He's just gone through a painful break-up, thanks in part to his drinking, can't write his second novel, and carouses too much with his magazine editor. Rather than face reality, Jonathan turns instead to his fantasies — moonlighting as a private detective — because he wants to be a hero and a man of action.

The series was conceived by the actual Jonathan Ames, a novelist/essayist whose bibliography can be found here and whose newest book, 'The Double Life is Twice as Good', consisting of essays and fiction, was just released this past July.

The National Post also has an intriguing article about the long-suffering author, who is described as being an overnight success after 26 years of struggle. His fiction also seems to deal with these kinds of hardships:

Ames' fiction is torrid, bizarre and uproarious. His essays are even better; Ames gleefully recounts stories most of us would want locked away with the skeletons: encounters with prostitutes, drug and alcohol abuse, difficulties with the opposite sex. While the material is often shocking, the themes he explores are the old standbys: love and life and family and friends. In the age of oversharing, Ames is somewhat of a pioneer.

With New Show, Jonathan Ames is an Overnight Success in 26 Years

A Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Tour?

There's no official name for the tour - or a tour itself - but rumors are flying about a possible Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax tour. If it happened, it would represent a first for these bands, and it would cause about a million metalheads' brains to explode instantaneously.

Since it's Lars (drummer from Metallica) talking about it, though, there's a good possibility it will happen. He may be sort of a, well, um, eccentric, but he's a capable businessman, and when he says things - think Summer Sanitarium, S&M, the tour with GnR, and Garage, Inc. - they usually come to fruition.

Kerry King, guitarist for Slayer, had this to say on the Metal Hammer web site:

I’ve heard people referencing Lars,” says King. “I don’t know Lars that well and I haven’t heard it from Lars but apparently he’s talking to somebody about it. Maybe us, Metallica, Megadeth (and), I think he even threw in Anthrax and I said in this day and age, I know we had that time together but how do you leave out Machine Head?

Source: The Big Four Tour? Kerry King Says it Could Happen
Picture Source:

What's in the Box?

'What's in the Box' is a first-person short film which has been labeled as a "test film". Don't worry; I have no idea what that means, either. It was dropped online back in March, though I had not seen it until just yesterday. With it's title, I can't help but be reminded of the last scene from Se7en.

'WITB' involves a young guy (I presume, judging by the clothes and such) awaking in some kind of facility, a siren going off and a strange black cloud circling a tower outside. He procures said said mysterious box and flees the scene...and then some other stuff happens. Check it out. It's nice little science fiction short film. You'll want to go to full-screen and turn up the volume, or else go to the film's Official Web Site.

If you pay attention, you can hear sound effects from Half-Life 2 playing in certain parts. /Film did some speculative pondering when the video appeared on the internet, though nothing seems to have come to fruition:

The informational sidebar also provides the following url: When you go to the site, you will find a box with a blinking question mark which sporadically glows red. Many people think it’s the start of a viral. Some have even suggested it is for Half-Life 3… but I think it might actually just be a very well put together special effects demo.

/Film - What's in the Box?
What's in the Box? Official Site

Sep 18, 2009

A Wii Price Drop?

Excellent video game blog Kotaku has been pointing to evidence (in such things as Target ads) that the Wii is heading toward a price drop.

This latest ad also fuels our suspicions that Nintendo will make a big price drop announcement during the Tokyo Game Show next week, despite the fact that the company does not have an official presence at the show.
Source: Kotaku

This kind of drop seems to have been coming for some time now, if the "Games" section of 411mania is to be believed:

Meanwhile the Wii's precipitous slide through 2008 continues, with Nintendo's console down 175,600 units year-over-year. Signs point to a $50 price drop for the console in October, which will yield a spike in sales but doesn't seem like enough to stave off continued sales declines. Consumers will have supported the Wii's $250 launch price point for a remarkable 35 months at that time, which may make a $50 reduction seem like an inconsequential drop.

Should the $50 price drop prove capable of a sustained spike in Wii sales, Nintendo's aim will - like Sony's - likely shift towards driving up third-party software sales. Despite Nintendo's overwhelming hardware lead, Microsoft has led in third-party software sales for every month of 2009. With third-party software sales amounting to free money through licensing fees, Nintendo would be able to offset slumping hardware sales with a marginal increase in third-party software sales.

Saving Madagascar's Wildlife

One of the unintended outcomes of the recent Madagascar coup by a former radio DJ (true!) was an uprising in the capture or outright killing of several species of lemur, as described in a BBC EarthNews article from Mark Cawardine:

In the two and a half decades since Douglas [Adams] and I arrived to look for aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis), the country's human population has doubled from roughly 10 million to more than 20 million, and that means more and more pressure on its natural resources.

In particular, the forest that once clothed this mini continent like a protective coat has virtually gone.

Madagascar was already one of the world's highest conservation priorities.
But the recent troubles will impoverish it still further.

Without urgent action, it faces an ecological disaster that could wipe out some of the most wonderful animals and plants on earth.

The amount of wildlife in the island country, just off the coast of Mozambique, is almost staggering to ponder:

The most notable species include 31 varieties of lemur, an endangered primate; the insectivorous tenrecs; the carnivorous nepenthes; 26 species of bats; the fosa and Galidia mongoose, both carnivores; giant jumping rats; 51 species of chameleons; 144 species of frogs; over 300 species of butterfly; and over 256 species of birds.
Source: The Africa Adventure Company

Sep 17, 2009

So, Stacking Eggs is NOT Impossible

Yes, what you are seeing in the above picture is a person stacking eggs. I'm not sure how such a feat is accomplished, but if you look closely, you'll see that most of them look unusually glossy for regular eggs. You'll have to visit the blog to see what the final product looks like.


30 Crazy Inventions

Sometimes it's difficult to determine whether or not humanity is meant to survive, if the blog post at Acid Cow on the 30 craziest inventions is to be believed. Some of these seem poorly conceived, but others defy logic. Go to the site to check the rest of them out. A rainy-day cigarette holder? The portable sauna? A motorized surfboard? Seriously, they seem like inventions from a James Bond movie done by Roald Dahl.

What we cannot do is divorce ourselves from these products, as the entirely credulous public yearns for more ridiculous products in the hopes of promoting comfort or time-thrift at the cost of common sense. These products are not proof of the fact that people were once gullible enough to buy such products, but mere indications that they continue to be that gullible to this very day.

Take just about any product emerging from the "As Seen on TV" store, think of it out of context, perhaps in a context of a few years down the road, and it will suddenly become so preposterous as to defy logic. How else would you explain the Snuggie or the Dog Stairs?

Half-Life 2 "Vocal" Mod

Modding is a subtle art in video games. To use a cliche, there's a reason professionals exist. But every so often a mod comes around that's so original and yet so silly that you can't help but think it's genius. YouTube User Trace666 took Half-Life 2 and replaced all sounds in the game - yes, ALL sounds - and replaced them with his own voice.

Now, you may think it's juvenile, but it's all very well-orchestrated so I have much respect for the modder. That being said, I don't know if I would adjust to the sounds over time, or if they would slowly build to a crescendo in my mind and slowly drive me crazy. It would be a nice experiment to take on. If you really want to see all of this in action, watch at least to 3:40 in the video, because a long stretch in the beginning deals only with showing off the weapons' capabilities.

P.S. I had trouble viewing it in HQ, but once I downgraded to normal quality, everything worked just fine.

The Search for Alien Life

Humans are curious creatures, built with an innate sense of wonder few seem to recognize. As a species, it seems that we have been apt to look up at the stars ever since we recognized that doing so might actually mean something. That is an amazing aspect of humanity, and it is often overlooked.

Perhaps it is this sense of wonder which has made us lust for verification that we're not the only sentient beings in the known Universe, or else to make an assertion that we're as close to being alone as we can ever be. With every passing year, scientists discover that, as J.B.S. Haldane once famously put it, "the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose."

With that knowledge, though, we are becoming aware of and even coming to understand these things which once baffled us, things that we thought we would possibly never know. Beyond the search for why we are here, possibly the second most asked question is, "Are we alone?" It is a question that is at once infinitely reasonable and infinitely preposterous. As the Universe, in our experience, grows, it seems almost silly to consider probing every nook and cranny for evidence that "something is out there".

However, scientists seem to be leveling this field so that it isn't just a mere blind hunt, and the evidence may be easier to find than first imagined, according to an article in Discover Magazine:

Today our conception of life in the universe is being turned on its head as scientists are finding a whole lot of inviting real estate out there. As a result, they are beginning to think not in terms of single places to look for life but in terms of “habitable zones”—maps of the myriad places where living things could conceivably thrive beyond Earth. Such abodes of life may lie on other planets and moons throughout our galaxy, throughout the universe, and even beyond.

The picture indicated in this blog post, Enceladus, also shows promise:

The pace of progress is staggering. Just last November new studies of Saturn’s moon Enceladus strengthened the case for a reservoir of warm water buried beneath its craggy surface. Nobody had ever thought of this roughly 300-mile-wide icy satellite as anything special—until the Cassini spacecraft witnessed geysers of water vapor blowing out from its surface. Now Enceladus joins Jupiter’s moon Europa on the growing list of unlikely solar system locales that seem to harbor liquid water and, in principle, the ingredients for life.

Do not be overly optimistic, however, of the possibility of a scene akin to the ending of 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind', as the life found on other planets may not be highly evolved, jetting around the Universe in a silver Frisbee. Since the search so far has yielded only water, then the life would, in all likelihood, be very primitive.

Sep 16, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Ark Trailer (1951)

A while back, I posted a similar "trailer" for Ghostbusters, and here is (obviously) 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', ostensibly. I like the casting of Chuck Heston as "'Indiana'" Jones, pulled from the movie 'Secret of the Incas'. Or would it be "'Indiana' Jones"? I don't know. Either way, these trailers are excellent, and if you'd like to see more, visit the filmmaker's YouTube page@ whoiseyevan

There's also a bevy of info on 'Secret of the Incas' at The Raider.Net. Since the movie is pretty difficult to find, you might just want to read up on it:

If there is one movie that truly inspired Indiana Jones, look no further than Secret of the Incas. This low budget adventure romp has more right to that accolade than any other film or serial in the adventure genre. The film stars a young Charlton Heston as Harry Steele, a seedy fortune hunter who is determined to find the Sunburst, an ancient Inca treasure hidden somewhere in the bowels of the ruins of Machu Picchu.

I Just Love This Picture

President Obama - Times Swampland


Memes come and go like summer love, so it's best to grab on and have fun while the having's good. This particular meme comes from Topless Robot, and the saying WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS comes from an errantly sent e-mail regarding the site's publication of a racy, Pokemon-themed bit of fan fiction. Here's the e-mail that sparked off what might be pretty popular on the internet:

HOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS? I wanna know whose idea was this RIGHT NOW. Who did this on purpose, huh? I found this little secret and I'm so angry I wanna know who did this and why or I'll report everyone here to the site moderaters on this website and Yiffstar and have the one responsible BANNED FOR LIFE. NOW TELL ME WHO DID THIS NOW?

Now, you may think it's a silly thing to build an online sensation over, but that's the way the internet works, my friends.

Meme: Whose Responsible This?

Contra VS. Duck Hunt

Yeah, pretty much what you'd expect. Still, it's an entertaining 0:25, isn't it?

Sep 15, 2009

'Jennifer's Body' Clip-o-Rama

A plethora of pinatas Jennifer's Body clips have surfaced on the internet this week, just in time for the movie's release this Friday (Sept. 18). Though the movie's getting sort of weak reviews right now, there's still hope for it to do relatively well, considering the Megan Fox buzz. Plus, I'm sure plenty of hipsters would love to see Diablo Cody's faux-indie vibe ignite into flames this weekend.

If you want to see more of the clips, head over to

Source: The Kissing, Killing And Boy-Eating Clips From Jennifer's Body.

Outsourcing Textbooks

Anyone who has ever been to college knows that buying textbooks can be murder, especially since publishers change editions on what seems a yearly basis. Students have historically been at the mercy of professors willing to use outdated or easily accessed books, but the internet has changed the way people buy textbooks, and though the legality of the practice is in murky territory, that hasn't slowed it one iota.

The availability of "International" editions in the US can be directly attributed to the internet, and it is an unintended consequence of textbook companies globalizing and expanding production overseas. The article on Time explains how buying international may save the students a few extra bucks.

International textbooks are printed — frequently in India, although sometimes in other Asian nations — under copyright agreements with Western publishers that allow the books to be sold for a discounted price. "The reasoning is that people in other countries can't afford the higher prices," said Swarthout, "so this is a way to provide them with the same quality of education as we get in America." But just as the Internet has enabled illegal access to music and movies, so too has it opened the international book market — especially to the hands of college students.

Legally, it's a murky issue, since the books were printed with students from other countries in mind, but it hasn't stopped sites like Amazon and eBay from allowing them to be sold on the site. The Time article further asserts that "Ebay recently won a court case absolving it of responsibility for policing its auctions for counterfeit items — although it will remove an auction if contacted by the company that owns the rights to an item — but international textbooks are not technically counterfeit."

Ostensibly, it's okay to buy the books as a student. It's not really illegal. But for sellers, it is decidedly (or supposedly) verboten. Still, wrangling the online market is about as easy as storing water in a sieve. There are just too many avenues for booksellers to take, and since the online markets are basically willing to overlook these transactions because they're making money, the practice cannot slow down. It's much easier to regulate, say, a traditional campus bookstore (though not all of them comply), but still, international editions sometimes seem to sneak onto the shelves nonetheless.

Outsourcing the Textbook

Link Text

Link To Us!

Don't Quit Your Day Job, Published Author

We all have this image of the rich author, able to cruise around the world and enjoy the company of starlets in their prime, of driving sports cars and big-game fishing off the coast of Cuba with a member of the Kennedy family or walking into any bookstore in the country and seeing dozens of copies of our books on a life-size display with our name in beautiful lettering.

Well, you can probably thank people like Ernest Hemingway for these kinds of bald-faced lies, because the life of a published author is almost nothing quite like that, with a few possible exceptions. Any published author is rich in a sense - how many people can actually finish a novel or collection of short stories - but how many of them get considerably, classically rich? Very few, actually. If you go over to Rants and Ramblings: On Life as a Literary Agent, you can see the cold reality which faces most authors when that book finally makes it into print:

Example: a $10,000 advance
After agent commission: $8,500 to author
Paid in halves: You will get two checks, several months apart, for $4,250 each. If you set aside 20% for taxes, that leaves you about $3,400 to spend.
Paid in thirds: You will get three checks, several months apart, for $2,833. If you set aside 20% for taxes, that means you'll have $2,266 to spend. Perhaps it will cover the rent or mortgage payment for a month or two. But it's not exactly a kitchen remodel.

It's definitely eye-opening. I remember when, in college, I visited the home of Ernest Hemingway down in Key West. I heard a famous story that, while waiting on a car to arrive, Hemingway stayed in Key West and then didn't leave for another twenty years. I thought, "I want that. It sounds awesome." That is not entirely out of the picture for any writer, but the prospect of being a wealthy, jetsetting literary figure is slim. Unfortunately, that's the reality of it. However, if you're writing for all the life-affirming reasons, then you won't need to be wealthy to keep doing it. You'll do it because you love it, and beyond being a cliche, it's also the truth.

I mean, who wouldn't want boat loads of cash to write? I'm not saying getting paid is bad, even in vast sums of money, but it should not be the only reason for writing, nor should a lack of publishing success be what turns you away from writing. I stand by that statement, as hokey as it sounds.

Maybe You Shouldn't Quit Your Day Job Just Yet

Sep 14, 2009

11 Hidden Secrets in Fight Club

This is sort of an ode to something older, but since it's 'Fight Club' I'm going to let it ride. It deserves to be seen. Besides, anyone who's ever seen 'FC' knows it cannot be parsed out in a single viewing.

11 Points has uncovered, well, 11 Points you may not have noticed on the first (few) viewings of 'Fight Club'. There are even a few things I myself have never noticed, and I had to have watched that movie twenty-five times on DVD.

Here is a little snippet to get you over to that sight:

This is a quick, subtle hint early on that Tyler isn't real. When the Narrator's condo blows up, he calls Tyler from a payphone, with no answer. Then, a few seconds later, the phone rings. As the Narrator goes to answer it, the camera zooms in on some text on the payphone that reads, "No incoming calls accepted." In other words -- Tyler could not have called him back, because this phone cannot ring.

11 Hidden Secrets in Fight Club

Univ. of Texas Video Game Archive

Remember in 'PCU' when Jeremy Piven said you could major in Game Boy if you knew how to bullshit? Well, that's no longer necessary, because it is becoming an actual field of study, along with the preservation of early gaming materials for the benefit of future research and generations.

The UT Videogame Archive is a collection component of The Center for American History that seeks to preserve and protect the records of videogame developers, publishers, and artists for use by a wide array of researchers. The Center will strive to collect and provide access to materials that not only facilitate research in videogame history, but also provide materials of interest to those studying communications, computer science, economics, and other academic disciplines that are now, and will for the foreseeable future, be drawn to the processes driving the videogame industry.

It's not just a basement full of Ataris and Intellivisions, either. Like the quote says, the gaming world is composed of plenty of elements that make it cohesive. The donors aren't dropping off boxes of copies of Pong and Skate or Die (I swear they made five million copies of that game), but more comprehensive pieces that will hopefully help gaming transcend the label of mere entertainment. We are just now discovering 'why' people are so engaged by video games as opposed to 'that' they are merely engaged by them. This may help us make a breakthrough in learning processes and simulated reality, and will ultimately help us learn more about ourselves as humans.

we acquired a wide range of materials that document several phases of The Fat Man's life and career. Most importantly, the materials in this donation (as seen in the blue boxes at right) documents Sanger's work and progress through various videogame audio assignments. These boxes contain audio recordings at various stages of the game audio composition process, as well as correspondence with the client developers, musical notation, game demos, contracts, and other files. The recordings come in several different formats: CDs, DAT tapes, ADAT files on S-VHS tapes, cassette tapes, and reel-to-reel tapes, among others.

The Video Game Archive: Center for American History UT Austin
The Fat Man Gives More than Sixty Boxes!

Sep 13, 2009

Neil DeGrasse Tyson - On UFO Evidence

Not only does Neil D. Tyson put the onus of presenting evidence about UFOs entirely on those who believe, he also discusses at length a principle called the argument from ignorance, which is often repeated as a means to perpetuate the widely-held claim of the existence of UFOs.

Basically, you can use UFOs to discuss the argument from ignorance in its most basic form: When someone sees an unidentified object in the sky and tells everyone about it, he may say, "I just saw something in the sky and have no idea what it is; it must be aliens coming to visit us from another planet." What Neil Tyson says is that the argument should end at "no idea what it is". Extrapolating the individual testimony into something else is a logical fallacy and has no more credence than any other kind of witness account.

Human beings are only partially rational, and it's common for us to move from the complete unknown to absolute certitude, as we do with entities like God. If we can't explain it with the evidence we hav now, it must be GodAnd on and on. Scientists, on the other hand, have to hold the measure of evidence to much higher standards than eyewitness testimony, and thus the data we have on UFOs does not hold up very well to scrutiny.