14 February 2010


Moved to a real site: sacredheartofodin.org.

13 February 2010


Moth trails.


Bats can fly drunk! Now we only have to incorporate Bat and Torn DNA.

O, India!

An Indian version of Europe's "The Final Countdown".

I Doubt The Authenticity of This (But What is "Authenticity" Anyway?)

Werner Herzog Reads Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel, and Curious George...a brilliant and not genuine deconstruction of childrens' books subtexts.

A Bad (?) Man...

Consider the lobbyist, the bail bondsman, the compromised scientist. I would like to be the devil's avocado here and put myself in the shoes of these people (who I may otherwise be more than ready to pounce upon).

Surely these types of people don't think of themselves as "bad people," but it's hard to say what else they might be. Openly advocating for the interests of an entire--and pretty much reprehensible--industry (e.g. strip mining) in exchange for money must sound like a filthy proposition to nearly all ethical human beings, yet people do it. Working in a CIA black prison sounds like an improper thing to do to most of us, but others feel completely justified in doing so.

It seems that there is either some sort of radical division in morality between certain sub-populations of the American populous or that, through some sort of mental/logical/ethical gymnastics, some people are able to justify and come to terms with what they do (when what they do is, by many commonly accepted standards, wrong).

Traditionally, we talk about ethics and people in two ways, each quite unlike the other. When we know someone, when we like him or her, we say, "Billy did a bad thing." When that other person is a stranger, we usually say, "He/she is a bad person." These are two completely different things.

Yet what/who is a person other than the sum of their actions?

What do we say of the head of a bail bondsmen group who, on the one hand, (legally) bribes elected representatives to legislate against the interests of the vast majority of American citizens but, on the other hand, (hypothetically) may donate to charity or volunteer for local organizations? Is this person good or bad?

Neither way of talking about the ethical quality of a person is entirely accurate or useful. I have no answers.

10 February 2010

A Lesson in Local Absurdist History


Back in the late 70's, some local absurdists ran for student government at UW-Madison and won.
They made outrageous campaign promises. For instance, they promised to convert the entire student government budget, all $70,000 of it, into pennies and allow the students to dig into it with pails and shovels. (Thus, the name of their party.) They promised to order all campus clocks to run backwards so classes would be over before they could begin. They said they would put dormitories on wheels and roll them to different parts of the campus each morning to provide students with a new perspective. They pledged to flood Camp Randall Stadium and wage mock naval battles. And finally, they said they would buy the Statue of Liberty and move it to Lake Mendota.


As soon as Mallon and Varjian were in power, they began implementing their plan of absurdity. They threw campus-wide toga parties, and bought toys to occupy students during the boredom of registration. But their masterpiece was their fulfillment of their campaign promise to move the Statue of Liberty to Lake Mendota.

The statue appeared on Lake Mendota in February of 1979. Varjian claimed the statue had been flown in by helicopter, but that the cable holding it had snapped causing Lady Liberty to crash through the ice until only the top of her head and her arm remained above water. In actuality, the statue had been constructed in a woodworking shop out of chicken wire, papier-mâché, and plywood and then moved out onto the ice.

But then, of course, people had to be real downers:
...its presence infuriated the critics of the Pail and Shovel Party (of which there were many). It was not the statue itself that people objected to, but rather the cost of it — $4500 that had come out of student funds. The student newspaper, the Daily Cardinal, became the outlet for Pail and Shovel’s critics. They accused Mallon and Varjian of being nothing more than “professional clowns” who had hijacked the student government and were proceeding to make a mockery of it, and, more seriously, they accused the two of illegal use of student funds.

In response to this criticism, Varjian noted that the total cost of the statue had only been ten cents per student, and he offered to refund this amount to any student who so desired. Sixty students staged a rally to demand their dimes. Varjian obligingly wrote each of them a check for ten cents.

The Daily Cardinal was not satisfied. It continued to denounce the statue for three weeks until March 2, when unknown arsonists torched Lady Liberty in the middle of the night, burning her to the ground. Mysteriously, the Daily Cardinal had a photographer on hand to record the burning, though it denied any involvement in the deed.
What the fuck?!

02 February 2010

Tooth Hearing Aid

New hearing aid sends sound waves through teeth, bone.

Virgin Birth

Probably the only case where a blow job got somebody pregnant.

Only the Megalomaniacal Get an Ear Anymore

An irony of trying to accurately express a statement of fact or a strong thesis: inserting caveats or qualifiers viz one's bona fides or degree of certitude, in theory, improves overall quality of communication yet, in practice, only serves to make one's auditor wary and skeptical.

(Almost ) the Deadliest Game

This cartoon (src) reminds me of something Dakota once said. She basically said that human beings have no natural predator but nevertheless desire to be hunted--that is, to be needed, wanted; hence the Zombie and the Vampire and the Devil and so on. I thought this made a good deal of sense. David Foster Wallace once wrote about Dostoevsky:
FMD seems like the first fiction writer to understand how deeply some people love their own suffering, how they use it and depend on it.

The lion yawns unhunted on the wide-open savanna.

01 February 2010

"Which First Baptist Was That Again"

From a random blog:

I am asking for your prayers for a precious friend that has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her name is Krista and she is the wife of our Youth Pastor at First Baptist.

Q: If God is omniscient, why do we need to need to use names?
Q: Would it really clear things up that much for a non-omniscient God to add her church and marital status?

Prayer is confusing to me. More on that after some research.

Take Your Law Off My Feet

Shoes suck.

Barefooters unite!

30 January 2010

The Noble Ant: Temnothrax unifasciatus

...workers of the ant species Temnothorax unifasciatus will also walk off to die in solitude, if they're carrying a fungal infection. In fact, Jurgen Heinze and Bartosz Walter found that workers, regardless of the reason for their demise, take their last breaths in a self-imposed quarantine. A Temnothorax worker may spend its life in the company of millions, but it dies alone.

In nature, old age is a luxury that few individuals can afford. Most often, death comes at the hands of predators or parasites. In the latter case, dying individuals pose a massive threat to their peers. In the closely-packed, humid environment of a nest, infections can spread like wildfire. Metarhizium only becomes infectious a few days after its host succumbs - it takes that long to produce new spores. And by that point, the ants are long gone.

Heinze and Walter treated 70 workers with spores of the parasitic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae. Three-quarters of them were dead within ten days. Of these, at least 70% voluntarily left the colony either hours or even days before that point and died well away from their nestmates. Another 21% were found dead outside the nests. It wasn't clear if they had left themselves or been evicted but certainly, the other ants don't treat infected workers any differently.

The tiny hermits never try to return home. They don't forage for food or water. They never try to get in touch with nestmates. If they're returned home, they'll actively try to flee again. As Heinze and Walter say, this appears to be "an active and, in most cases, adaptive response of the dying ant to its own condition."

It's not just fungus that prompts these quarantines. Heinze and Walter found that they could trigger the same behaviour by exposing young and apparently healthy workers to extremely high levels of carbon dioxide, a treatment that causes ants to age prematurely.

Even ants that are dying of old age will leave the nest. The duo kept an eye on over 1,600 workers from 28 different colonies and found that 92% of those that died spontaneously left the nest beforehand. The only one that died back in the nest was mistakenly carried there by another worker! Unlike the infected workers, they started their reclusive spell around 1-15 days before they actually died, probably because their health wasn't failing as quickly.

The fact that workers showed the same behaviour, regardless of the cause of death, suggests that the self-imposed exiles aren't just part of the parasite's manipulations. Parasites can famously twist the wills of their hosts to increase their chances of finding another. For example, some fungi and liver flukes can make ants climb to the tips of grass stems before dying, so that the spores can be dispersed on the wind or the flukes could be eaten by another host - a bird. Either way, it looks very much like the ant has willingly marched off to die alone but its strings have actually been pulled by the parasite.

That's clearly not the case for the Temnothorax workers. Although the colony doesn't really benefit if a poisoned or old ant dies elsewhere, Heinze and Walter think that these are just side-effects of a general rule that says, "If you're dying, leave, in case it's something serious that could kill the others."

More totally fascinating stuff in the article itself.

Even more eyebrow-raising goodness, here is E.O. Wilson writing ant fiction in the New Yorker!

Gay Marriage & Visualizing Whale Song

Are gay spouses on to something?

New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

That consent is key. “With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, “but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.”

The study also found open gay couples just as happy in their relationships as pairs in sexually exclusive unions, Dr. Hoff said. A different study, published in 1985, concluded that open gay relationships actually lasted longer.

None of this is news in the gay community, but few will speak publicly about it. Of the dozen people in open relationships contacted for this column, no one would agree to use his or her full name, citing privacy concerns. They also worried that discussing the subject could undermine the legal fight for same-sex marriage.

And now for something completely different.

Mark Fischer visualizes whale song in a new way.

26 January 2010

Slime Mold Accurately Simulates Optimal Subway Network

Slime mold is being used to optimize public transportation networks in Japan...and it's really good at it.

...Atsushi Tero from Hokkaido University worked with the slime mould Physarum polycephalum. This amoeba-like creature forages for food by sending out branches (plasmodia) from a central location. Even though it forms vast, sprawling networks, it still remains as a single cell. It's incredibly dynamic. Its various veins change thickness and shape, new ones form while old ones vanish, and the entire network can crawl a few centimetres every hour.

For a mindless organism, the slime mould's skill at creating efficient networks is extraordinary. It can find the most effective way of linking together scattered sources of food, and it can even find the shortest path through a maze. But can it do the same for Tokyo's sprawling cityscape?

Tero grew Physarum in a wet dish at a place corresponding to Tokyo, with oat flakes marking the locations of other major cities in the Greater Tokyo Area. Physarum avoids bright light, so Tero used light to simulate mountains, lakes and other prohibitive terrain on his miniature map. The mould soon filled the space with a densely packed web of plasmodia. Eventually, it thinned out its networks to focus on branches that connected the food sources. Even by eye, these final networks bore a striking similarity to the real Tokyo rail system.

More on Physarum polycephalum.

Whales and Bats Share Echolocation-Related Gene

Toothed whales and bats share the same gene:

The echolocation abilities of bats and whales, though different in their details, rely on the same changes to the same gene - Prestin. These changes have produced such similar proteins that if you drew a family tree based on their amino acid sequences, bats and toothed whales would end up in the same tight-knit group, to the exclusion of other bats and whales that don't use sonar.

This is one of the most dramatic examples yet of 'convergent evolution', where different groups of living things have independently evolved similar behaviours or body parts in response to similar evolutionary pressures.


At first, it might seem strange to see such strong convergence at the genetic level. After all, bats and toothed whales echolocate very differently. Bats create their sonar pulses using their voicebox while whales pass air through their nasal bones. Bats send their calls through air and whales send their through water. A single gene can't have accounted for these differences in production.

Instead, Prestin's role is in detecting the rebounding echoes. It is activated in the "outer hair cells" of the ear, which allow mammals to hear high frequencies. In echolocating species, these cells are shorter and stiffer than normal, making them exquisitely sensitive to the ultrasonic frequencies used in echolocation. Li thinks that the Prestin changes might have helped to tune the outer hair cells of echolocators to high-pitched noises.

Deer Mice Sperm Cooperation

Heidi Fisher has discovered that Deer Mice sperm clump together in order to travel faster. What's more:
Fisher wondered whether sperm from two different male mice would cooperate indiscriminately or tend to clump with sperm from the same mouse.

So she took sperm from one male deer mouse, and dyed it red, and sperm from another male and dyed it green.

Then she mixed the two sperm samples together, put them in a petri dish ... and watched what happened.

"What we found more often than not is that red sperm tend to clump more so together, and green sperm tend to clump more so together," says Fisher.

Humpback Whale Feeding Technique

The Humpback can feed in a very similar way to the Japanese Sizzler patron:

25 January 2010

David Attenborough Shows Us Some Smart Dolphins

Coincidentally, this is the proper way to eat at Sizzler in Japan.

19 January 2010

New Cool Science Articles

New Visible Light Photocatalyst Kills Bacteria, Even After Light Turned Off (via)

In the battle against bacteria, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a powerful new weapon -- an enhanced photocatalytic disinfection process that uses visible light to destroy harmful bacteria and viruses, even in the dark.


Based upon a new catalyst, the disinfection process can be used to purify drinking water, sanitize surgical instruments and remove unwanted fingerprints from delicate electrical and optical components.

"The new catalyst also has a unique catalytic memory effect that continues to kill deadly pathogens for up to 24 hours after the light is turned off," said Jian Ku Shang, a professor of materials science and engineering at the U. of I.

Fish Oil Given Intravenously to Patients in Intensive Care Has Many Benefits, Study Finds (via)
A randomised controlled trial of fish oil given intravenously to patients in intensive care has found that it improves gas exchange, reduces inflammatory chemicals and results in a shorter length of hospital stay.

Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Critical Care investigated the effects of including fish oil in the normal nutrient solution for patients with sepsis, finding a significant series of benefits.

Philip Calder, from the University of Southampton, UK, worked with a team of researchers to carry out the study in 23 patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome or sepsis in the Hospital Padre Américo, Portugal. He said, "Recently there has been increased interest in the fat and oil component of vein-delivered nutrition, with the realization that it not only supplies energy and essential building blocks, but may also provide bioactive fatty acids. Traditional solutions use soybean oil, which does not contain the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil that act to reduce inflammatory responses. In fact, soybean oil is rich in omega-6 acids that may actually promote inflammation in an excessive or unbalanced supply."
Side effects may include dipsomania, hydrophilia, and hyper-retroamnesia.

Zambian Study Finds Longer Breastfeeding Best for HIV-Infected Mothers (via)
The researchers' initial hypothesis, which proved to be incorrect, suggested that by 4 months of age, children would have passed the critical developmental point when breastfeeding is essential to their survival. However, stopping breastfeeding at 4 months, compared to usual breastfeeding as the child reaches 6 months to 24 months or older, did not decrease mortality or play a significant role in protecting the child from HIV transmission.

These findings were consistent with those for mothers not infected with HIV; longer breastfeeding is necessary to protect children against potentially fatal infectious diseases, especially those prevalent in low-resource settings. To prevent postnatal HIV transmission, however, mothers with HIV should be on antiretroviral drugs.
The breasts knows the bests.

Angiotensin Receptor Blockers Can Reduce Incidence of Alzheimer's

A study published in the BMJ concludes:

Angiotensin receptor blockers are associated with a significant reduction in the incidence and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia compared with angiotensin converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors or other cardiovascular drugs in a predominantly male population.

13 January 2010

Monsanto Corn Gave Me the AIDS

GM corn from Monsanto tied to organ failure in this study.

Krijg Nou de Pokke!

More about Dutch profanity than you ever would care to know.

Like "Lost," Except Russian and Real

A young surgeon removes his own appendix (BMJ report of 1961 incident).

When the preparations were complete Rogozov scrubbed and positioned himself. He chose a semi-reclining position, with his right hip slightly elevated and the lower half of the body elevated at an angle of 30°. Then he disinfected and dressed the operating area. He anticipated needing to use his sense of touch to guide him and thus decided to work without gloves.

...Rogozov first infiltrated the layers of abdominal wall with 20 ml of 0.5% procaine, using several injections. After 15 minutes he made a 10-12 cm incision. The visibility in the depth of the wound was not ideal; sometimes he had to raise his head to obtain a better view or to use the mirror, but for the most part he worked by feel. After 30-40 minutes Rogozov started to take short breaks because of general weakness and vertigo. Finally he removed the severely affected appendix. He applied antibiotics in the peritoneal cavity and closed the wound. The operation itself lasted an hour and 45 minutes.
One of the assistants to Rogozov wrote in his journal:
When Rogozov had made the incision and was manipulating his own innards as he removed the appendix, his intestine gurgled, which was highly unpleasant for us; it made one want to turn away, flee, not look—but I kept my head and stayed. Artemev and Teplinsky also held their places, although it later turned out they had both gone quite dizzy and were close to fainting . . . Rogozov himself was calm and focused on his work, but sweat was running down his face and he frequently asked Teplinsky to wipe his forehead . . . The operation ended at 4 am local time. By the end, Rogozov was very pale and obviously tired, but he finished everything off.

There's more gold in the article itself. This just makes my day.

12 January 2010

Weekend Roundup

Chuck Klosterman usually doesn't do it for me, but he has many interesting things to say during segment 2 of this episode of To the Best of Our Knowledge.

On to urban cavemen. This is so stupid I don't even know where to begin. I think these people, though svelte and beautiful, are horribly mistaken w/r/t the soundness of their foundational principles. Imitating the diet and exercise profile of a caveman may be a sort of simulation of our "natural" state, I don't see how this is better because natural. Hobbes would beg to differ.

Not to mention that it is decidedly unnatural to either live in a skyscraper or to use a bathtub-sized meat freezer.

These urban cavemen also choose exercise routines focused on sprinting and jumping, to replicate how a prehistoric person might have fled from a mastodon.

In a city crowded with vegetarian restaurants and yoga studios, the cavemen defy other people’s ideas of healthy living. There is an indisputable macho component to the lifestyle.

“I didn’t want to do some faddish diet that my sister would do,” Mr. Durant said.

No, we wouldn't want that, now would we?

Predictibly Irrational.

09 January 2010

Are You There?

Glenn Greenwald has a retarded post here. He lauds Helen Thomas for asking what the motivation for the Xmas day attempted bombing was. First of all, that is a stupid question to ask. Who knows the hearts of men? But the crazy thing is the divorce between the question and the answer. The question of Helen Thomas concerned the motivation of the person(s) who wished us harm, but the answer from Napolitano addressed the level of security at Skipple airport. But that equally moronic (but ballsy) woman Thomas keeps asking what the motivation of the would-be bomber was, to which John Brennan replies with the standard they-are-evil-and-kill-innocents response. There is a negative communication level going on here. Not only is the question not being answered, but the "answer" is irrelevant to the "question."

Chinese History

During my visit to China and Tibet I learned to detest China, but my opinion is ignorant of the magnificent history of a great land. I present to you a history of China.

American Exceptionalism and American Religion

American Exceptionalism and American Religion. No analysis here but only a link.

James is a Weirdo

James Ellroy is the strangest person ever (if his reading on "Writer's Block" is any indicator). Here is the audio link.

Protestants on the Road

Yet another example of what happens when you allow the hoi polloi read the Word of God.

The Carlisle outpost of Truckstop Ministries is one of 74 chapels in 29 states. From Barstow, Calif., to Bordentown, N.J., truckers are gathering in meeting rooms, modular trailers and old movie theaters. There are other ministries and groups catering to truckers nationwide, too. Just down the road, at the Petro truck stop near Interstate 81, the Carlisle Truck Stop Chaplain Ministry meets in a trailer. However, Truckstop Ministries is the largest and most organized Christian outreach network on the highway.

Mr. Hershey and chaplain Leon Wells run their Sunday meeting in Mr. Hershey's 28-foot Coachman motor home. Half a dozen drivers huddle in on this sunny Sunday, 24-ounce cups of truck-stop coffee in hand, to listen to Mr. Hershey's sermon and talk about God, the road and life.

It looks like they have some competition though (from Youtube user "Yoked to Jesus"):

Don't believe what anybody tells you about God! That's where people get so screwed up, they're lookin' to a pastor, a minister, whatever to, you know, interpret God's Word for 'em. You know what? They could teach you, that's great...you can listen to 'em. But never believe it! Until you check it out for yourself until you go to the Word, until you go to the Bible and you check it out for yourself....

Part 2:

I tell you what. That was like a blanket of comfort, it really was like a blanket of comfort because it was God saying, "Jeff, Jeff, just climb up into my lap and cry. I'm gonna hold you through this, be still and know that I am God....

Part 3:

Debating Scripture is frivolous 'cause somebody comes into a debate discussion about Scripture, that heart will keep them from ever seein' from seein' what God wants 'em to see.

Yes, okay, let's take what we all agree to be the WORD OF GOD and just ASSUME that it is a very simple thing to understand! Jesus Christ! Please bring back Torquemada! In this case he would be the lesser of two evils.

Bill Shakey Does Lebowski

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski:

Whither the money, Lebowski? Faith, we are servants of Bonnie; promised by the lady good that thou in turn were good for’t.

Bound in honour, we must have our bond; cursed be our tribe if we forgive thee.

Let us soak him in the commode, so as to turn his head.

Aye, and see what vapourises; then he will see what is foul.

Cool Passage from the Histories #1

From Herodotus' Histories, 1.150:

This is how the Aeolians lost Smyrna. The people of Smyrna took in and sheltered some Ionian men who had been defeated in factional strife and exiled from Colophon, their home city. Once they were admitted into the city, the Colophonian exiles watched and waited until one day the people of Smyrna went outside the city walls to hold a festival in honor of Dionysos. Then the Colophonians shut and locked the gates and took possession of the city. When all the Aeolians rushed there to help the Smyrnians recover their city, the two sides reached an understanding whereby the Ionians agreed to return to the Smyrnians all of their movable goods in the city, and the Aeolians agreed to abandon the site of Smyrna itself. The Smyrnians carried out their part of the bargain, and the eleven Aeolian cities distributed the former Aeolians of Smyrna among themselves and made them citizens.

Kind of like the Trojan Horse scheme in reverse. Never trust an Ionian from Asia Minor!

Where to Begin?

Over dinner last night with a family friend, the conversation turned to politics. Unsurprisingly, I was the voice of pessimism and apathy while Bill's was that of civic involvement and cautious optimism. I said that politics made me automatically shutdown because:

  • What's the point when no one listens?
  • It only makes you angry and frustrated.
  • It is so often trivial and inane.
  • It is totally uninteresting, especially when compared to history, classics, science, literature, &c.

He made the Zinnian argument that you must take a position and be informed in order to be an intelligent, responsible person. I would love to agree with him, but this approach makes me feel forced into politics because the world is so often fucked up by assholes and idiots. Why should my time, emotions, energy, &c. be manipulated by assholes and idiots?

I'm afraid I came off as an indifferent prick, the type of person who if more active could actually make a difference despite his or her negative predictions.

I have thought about it and agree with him, with a few caveats. I don't think that I should be obligated to be involved in the political "discourse" of the United States merely because I am a U.S. citizen or in the vicissitudes of the global political clusterfuck just because I live on this planet.

What I do think is that one should be involved in reducing evil/suffering/stupidity/&c. in the world in some way. Any way. If I choose to try to tackle starvation or child abuse or human rights abuses anywhere in the universe, that should count just as much as emailing my representative in Congress or drawing up petitions. One could even argue that the former causes are much more important than the latter ones.

The most challenging part is that the world is so supremely fucked up that I don't even know where to begin—and if that's the case, anywhere is better than nowhere.

07 January 2010

Saint Frank and His Nonexistent Creatures

From the First and Second Lives of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano:

Both Francis and his companions agree in reporting that, when he had spoken thus, the birds exulted marvelously in their own fashion, stretching their necks, extending their wings, opening their mouths, and gazing at him. Francis walked into their midst, touching their heads and bodies with his tunic. Finally he blessed them and, making the sign of the cross, gave them permission to fly off to some other place.

Rejoicing, the blessed father went off with his companions, giving thanks to God whom all creatures worship. Since he had now been made simple by grace and not by nature, he began to accuse himself of negligence for not having preached to the birds before, since they listened to the word of God with such reverence. And thus it came about that, from that day on, he exhorted all birds, all animals, all reptiles, and even nonexistent creatures to praise and love the creator, for every day, when the name of the savior was announced, he himself saw their obedience.

06 January 2010


A Metafilter post about various trademark issues with Google's new phone. Apparently, Dick's estate is made over Google's use of "Nexus" paired with a number and Verizon had to pay Lucasfilm to use "Droid." It's really unbelievable what people trademark and then "own." Just because you take a perfectly good word that is widely used by everyone and then place a number next to it, it's special now? Or you chop off the first two letters of "android," you all of a sudden have such a novel verbal construct that you can have exclusive rights to it?

Well, "android" is formed two Greek roots, so why don't we just pay them? It's really pathetic that people/companies can secure "rights" to language (which everyone "owns").

Just another reason why George Lucas is the biggest piece of shit in the universe.

05 January 2010

Blinded by Overwhelming Fury (Apparently)

Immediately after waking up this morning, I had the misfortune to discover an interview with Gallagher. He seems to be a living example of why it's important to never let yourself become an angry person. (It's alright to be a person who occasionally, and for a reason, happens to get angry, though.)

He calls President Clinton "the most common" and complains that Bill ruined oral sex, never mind that he was a Rhodes scholar and if he happened to affect some down-home charm, it was only for show and oral sex.

You can actually take a drink now during your show! You know, George Burns performed smoking a cigar, and never needed a drink of water on a stool. But now this has become a tradition in America. They more or less have a stool ready for you and ask, “What water ya want?” To me, as a visual artist, everything that’s in the picture should have meaning—what does a stool and a bottle of water mean?

Oh, please. Throughout the interview he bemoans trivial and minute changes in the comedy industry and places the blame for his lack of recent success squarely upon the shoulders of a "society" constructed for the lowest common denominator.

And I suppose this is what I mean in saying "O, woe betides the souring of a man." Careful when you bitch like this because it just may blind you to the incredible irony of being both the subject and object of your derision.

(And he dismisses the heinous nature of Michael Vick's crimes, saying, "One player kills somebody and somehow isn’t punished as much as a quarterback who kills a dog. Dogs are given to the pound, and the pound kills them. So if, I forget his name, if [Michael Vick] had worked for the pound, he wouldn’t have been put in jail.")

I Find It Very Frustrating...

...that some of the most super important issues around are also some of the most boring.

Some Photos From California

03 January 2010

Corn is Only Corn if You Live Where "Corn" is Most Common

From Corn in the Columbia Encyclopedia:

The name corn is given to the leading cereal crop of any major region. In England, corn means wheat; in Scotland and Ireland, oats.

America's OCD Pastime

Baseball magic.

And this is just for fun:

Prions Evolve, Humanity Screwed

Prions discovered to evolve.


Yet another horrifying and deeply upsetting article to read and then feel helpless about.

The Courageous but Perhaps Misguided Mr. Park

Man crosses over into North Korea on purpose. From the interview:

The North Korean human rights crisis by murder rate is the worst in the world. An estimated 1,000 people a day die by starvation and starvation is a murder case. North Korea has been sent more food aid than any nation in the world but the food has not gone to the people who need it. So this is murder.

But not only that, there are concentration camps in North Korea that are of the same brutality as in Nazi Germany.

Responsible governments are completely silent about the issue. The United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea have a huge responsibility to speak out about this because all these nations played a role the arbitrary division of the Koreas, where not a single Korean was consulted. Yet the lives of these people are of no issue to these governments. That is a crime. It is a huge crime.

Even if Mr. Park is wrong about his figures, which does not seem to be the case, North Korea is a truly and incomprehensibly horrific state. Mr. Park, despite anything else you might want to say about him, is absolutely right that all people—especially developed Western countries with a whole bunch of great things to say about due process, various freedoms, etc.—have a basic moral obligation to speak out against North Korea. Why are our leaders mum? (No, really, I don't know.) What's in it for them to play with kid gloves?

Mr. Park compares the situation to Nazi Germany. While there are some major differences that he is overlooking, he is right in that there are very real horrors being perpetrated against innocent human beings as we speak and we have an obligation to do all that we can to stop them. The conflict between North Korea and the United States, et al. is no mere minute ideological quibble. Call me old-fashioned but I am willing to put my foot down and say that tyranny (especially that based on mass-killing, starvation, and other human rights abuses) is totally unacceptable and is fundamentally wrong.