Farside Re-enactments

Here is a Flickr pool of Farside cartoons brought to life.


Quote of the Day

"The latest twist in this ancient and hopeless struggle is hard to address without equal measure of distaste for Hamas's religious barbarism and dismay at Israel's apparent determination to commit slow suicide." - Andrew Sullivan


Map of Serenity's 'Verse

Oh this show had too much potential to have it end so soon.

Sorry I can't blow up the pics bigger but the link has larger versions.


Intel Dump

It's that time again, here is the flotsam and jetsam that has built up in my files the last few months;

- In the spirit of Kamandi, here's a collection of images from sci-fi where the Statue of Liberty is featured prominently.

- Popular Mechanics investigates that most pressing of questions; 'which Terminator is the toughest'?

- So long as we are immersed in apocalyptic imagery, here is a series of haunting photos of an entire town in Namibia consumed by sand.

- In the category of cool things science can do that God can't, we have 'regrowing a human jaw bone'.

"Scientists say they have replaced a 65-year-old patient's upper jaw with a bone transplant cultivated from stem cells isolated from his own fatty tissue and grown inside his abdomen."


- There are those who think that 2010 is a better movie than 2001. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Fortunately the articles is mostly a smorgasbord of trivia about both films that will satisfy the nerdy to the nth degree.

"My God, its full of stars" - indeed.

- Here are the 8 simple rules for women to survive in science fiction.

Rule #1 is 'Keep your panties on'. Seriously. Killjoys.

- In an attempt to recalibrate our notions of good and evil, the boys at Ruthless Reviews have written a defense of Ivan Drago (the Russian boxer in Rocky IV). Is he really the misunderstood hero of the film?

- Here's a list of 20 Things Nerdier than Monty Python. Star Trek is #1. Duh.

- Guaranteed to make you chuckle, the unintentional poetry of Roger Clemons.

- More seriously, here is an article on the future of robot warfare. Sweet ride.

- This exercise video unintentionally caters to those of us who like housewives who wear high heels and crawl on the floor. So. Good.

- From the annals of trivia so remote and obscure you simply must salute, a comprehensive list of what made David Banner 'Hulk out' on the 70's TV show. My favourites;

#3: Thinking of either of his wives

#16: Being hit by a blast of steam while trying to turn off the nuclear reactor that is melting down

#19: Being pushed down a mountainside by a Big Foot impersonator.

#20: Dealing with a pesky operator in a phone booth (I DON'T HAVE TWENTY-FIVE CENTS!!!!)

#24 Being tied up and fed soup by an elderly Japanese woman who doesn't understand ' You have got to cut me loose'!

#52: Locked in a drunk tank with a crazy person who thinks they are Ernest Hemingway who then beats the stuffing out of David.

#71: Wandering into an Army Dump to get the canister of deadly nerve gas that has blinded his friend, only to be caught by a mean MP who knocks off his gas mask and throws him back down the hill, knocking the canister open so David can frantically try to put the gas mask back on before looking up to see that the MP has somehow brought in a crane and is dumping two tonnes of garbage on him.

#106: Being fed poisonous sushi

I could go on, but the ongoing laughter made my brain hurt. Obviously they ran out of even decent plot devices relatively early on in the series.

- I so very badly wanted to go to this.

- Here is the best explanation for the sub-prime meltdown I've yet to encounter.

- Here's a wicked episode of Buckley's 'Firing Line' where he debated the 'evolutionists'. Ah Buckley, always so entertaining.

- Something everyone should know; 'How to kill someone with a Girl Scout Sash'

- An excellent article on the art of film suspense, and another on the film as cognitive theory.

- Here's a combination of two of my most nerdly pleasures; politics played out with 3d6

- How one lone loser gave masturbation a bad name for 300 years. What a jerk-off.

- How medicine is redefining 'Death'.

- As if I didn't have enough stress. This guy wonders aloud about whether or not I deserve my salary. Killjoy.

- The Dutch wrestle with another thorny freedom of speech problem reminiscent of the one that got Theo Van Gogh killed.

- How is Shaq working out in Phoenix? Not bad. Here's a pic of Shaq decaptitating a Trailblazer.

- This is SO. SWEET. A 'Tree of Life' tattoo.

- When you need to have your daiily pulp fiction fix, go here.

- In the Black Sabbath song 'Iron Man', is the titular character Tony Stark?

- More evidence that you should drink more coffee.

- Here are the 50 best comedy sketches of all time.

- Jared Diamond (Guns Germs + Steel) talks about vengeance and human nature.

- The End of the Universe is Coming. Or not.

- 5 Scientists and the laws they created/discovered. Geek trivia.

- Who are the toughest film characters? Amazingly, Roy Batty somehow did not make the list.

- In virtual reality, the Green Lantern Corps has been assigned to guard Darfur. Seriously.

- Why does home court advantage work? Your opponents are tired.

- In the same spirit as Ivan Drago - hero of Rocky 4, I give you; 'In defense of the Empire in Star Wars'. I guess its no surprise that the same people who invade Iraq and defend the use of torture also take the side of the Emperor....

- Odssmakes have Dualla as the most likely final Cylon.

- If Sigmund Freud had built bicycles....

- Philosopher Peter Singer writes on how the religious still haven't come up with a good reason for God to allow suffering.

- Here's an article that ponders one of my favourite subjects, our coming date with immortality.

- Another spiffy David Cronenberg interview.

- William Gibson on; Godzilla, Vancouver and being Canadian.

- From Henry Fonda to Jason Bourne, Slate magazine does a nice breakdown on the history of fight scenes in the movies.

- How is science a religion? Mostly, it isn't.

- More interestingly, does religion lead to disease?

- You know you want it, a dose of 'Daily Spock'. Today mine is;

"Change is the essential process of all existence."

from 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield', stardate 5730.2.


- From the Libertarian boys at 'Positive Liberty' who are no doubt concerned about Obama's sweeping victory; a defense for political gridlock. Maybe they should pay more attention to what is going in on Canada, where gridlock has sinply left us...gridlocked.

- Last but not least; Caveman Economics. When in doubt, move to the lowest common denominator.


Macleans Article - Inside a crisis that shook the nation

A couple of weeks ago we here in Canada and a nice little political dust-up. If you are interested in a great summary of the events, Macleans has a fantastic piece, linked to the title, detailing the timeline and the people pulling the strings.

What's missing is a detailed account of what was said in the 2 and 1/2 hours that Prime Minister Steven Harper met with Governor General Michelle Jean. Fortunately, I was able to get a transcript of their conversation and have, gentle readers, included it here. (For purposes of full disclosure, I submitted it to the Edmonton Journal but they have - thus far - declined to publish it :-))


When Steven met Michelle – by Douglas McLachlan

Governor-General Michelle Jean: Prime Minister Harper, please come in. I was asked to cut my European trip short, you wouldn’t happen to know why?

Prime Minister Harper: Yes your Excellency, I need to you to prorogue Parliament.

GG: Really, didn’t I just deliver a Throne Speech two weeks ago?

PM: Well, yes, but…

GG: All that stuff about working together must have really struck a chord. I misjudged you Mr. Harper. I always took you as a partisan and inflexible man. I was wrong. To get so much done so quickly must have taken real statesmanship, I’m impressed.

PM: Actually, there’s been a bit of a crisis brewing while you have been away.

GG: I know, I know. This economic situation is a global concern. My trip took me to four former Soviet dictatorships with no history of political compromise all governed by multi-party coalitions that, in spite of all their differences and disputes, are stable, effective, focused on the economic... Oh, just listen to me. What do they know? You were able to get our economic response ready in two weeks! That sort of effort puts their messy new democracies to shame. So tell me what is the plan to stimulate the economy that you and your colleagues settled on?

PM: Well, actually, we haven’t got that worked out yet. I sort of provoked the Opposition by threatening to take their funding away. You see I acted like they wouldn’t mind so much if I included a plan to strip civil servants of their right to strike; deny women on the federal payroll pay equity; and change the name of Calgary to the City of Champions. I mean I did say that we would have a government surplus this year – even though we most certainly won’t – so it’s not like I didn’t mention the economy.

GG: Your government actually said all that? In Parliament?

PM: Well everything except the City of Champions stuff, I was talked out of that by Day. That man won’t stand up for anything.

GG: How did the Opposition react?

PM: They threatened to vote it down, which was sort of the plan, but they tricked me. I figured that they would bluff me. I would bluff back. Tensions build. Tempers fly. In feigned exasperation at the brinksmanship I come to you and get you to call another election.

GG: Like this fall when you told me we needed an election because Parliament wasn’t working even though nobody would vote against your government no matter what you did?

PM: Exactly. So I could get a majority.

GG: I can’t say I’m pleased to hear this but…

PM: Oh, it gets better. The Opposition actually got together and agreed on an alternative Government, a Coalition. The Liberals and the NDP put aside their differences and said they would work together for 30 months! I can’t work with my own staff for that long – its nonsense! They had a signing ceremony and everything.

GG: So why am I still talking to you again?

PM: Here’s the kicker. They even get the Bloc to say that they won’t defeat this Coalition!

GG: Come to think of it I thought I saw a letter amongst all these Canadian Tire flyers…

PM: Working with the Bloc?!? That’s my thing! Dion and Layton, they took my thing! I’ve spent years being nice to them and this is how they treat me. I’ve changed my tune now. As of last week the Bloc are a bunch of separatist traitors hell-bent on destroying the country. Well at least in English. In French I’ve been calling them sellouts to the nationalist cause. National Unity politics is a hobby of mine, it’s all about putting the right accent on the firewall…

GG: So you didn’t see this coalition plan coming?

PM: No. Which surprises me a little, given that I’m always taping their meetings, but that Dion is a tricky one. Have you ever looked at him, I mean really looked at him?

GG: Umm. No.

PM: He’s blurry. Strangest thing I’ve ever seen.

GG: When did you last get any sleep?

PM: Anyhow, they are threatening to vote non-confidence in my government and ask you to give their Coalition a chance. The vote has been put off once already but they really seem intent on defeating me. It’s right before Christmas and we just put up the tree. So, as I said in the beginning, I really would appreciate it if you could prorogue Parliament.

GG: Let me see if I have this straight. In the midst of a historic global economic crisis you intentionally created a political crisis and now are coming to me so we can have a constitutional crisis. Do you have any friends?

PM: Not really, they get in the way of the scheming. If I get through this I might want to get to know that Layton better. I think this was all his idea. You hardly notice him down there with the moustache. He’s shorter than he looks on television, you know.

GG: People will say I am giving you a free pass.

PM: Call it a cooling off period. A time-out, like in a hockey game, Canadians will understand that.

GG: Ok, I’ll give you your time-out. Think of it as an early Christmas Present.

PM: Thanks. You really are the best. I hope you can forget all the things I said and had others say about your French citizenship and your husband’s separatist dinner parties.

GG: Sure. There is one thing you should remember.

PM: What’s that?

GG: When they call a time-out in hockey, the clock stops running but it doesn’t reset. You are still down a goal. Your caucus colleagues might want to think about pulling the goalie.

Douglas McLachlan is an Edmonton lawyer, former Federal Candidate and father of a three and a half year-old girl who gets a time-out when she acts like she’s in Question Period.

Canada is NOT a Republic

A survey of over 1000 Canadians reveals a striking lack of basic knowledge about the democracy they live in.


I seem to recall something about false idols...

This story just made me laugh out loud.

Because, you know, prayers work better when you anoint the vehicles first. Or some such thing. I never really got the whole prayer business to be honest.


Quote of the Day

“Crito, we ought to offer a cock to Asclepius. See to it, and don’t forget.” - Socrates

The journal Arion poses the question of what to make of Socrates famous last words and as is often the case in philosophical discourse, the meaning we attach to them depends in large part on which philosopher is doing the interpretation.

Post Thanksgiving Cheer


Bruce Lee and Ping Pong

Totally off the hook awesome


Two Great Tastes...

...That Go Great Together

Ministry covers Rod Stewart. Seriously.


My Prediction

My Mom and Camilla

My Mom will be in another movie! As some of you know she moonlights from her day job as the world's greatest mom as an actress - typically modeling and 'background' work.

The latest is that she has been tapped to play Camilla Parker Bowles in a movie called 'Farwell Atlantis' (also called '2012').

Here's a picture I got of her in costume. It's not a speaking part, but the hope is she gets some screen time so we can scream out loud at her appearance.

Camilla may be married to a Prince, but she NEVER looked this good!


Happy Hallowe'en!

Two great tastes that go great together; Skinny Puppy and grade 'Z' zombie horror films (Night of the Creeps)



The 2008-09 Skywalkers!

In our first season of fantasy basketball the Skywalkers finished with a respectable .500 record, and left management with a taste for the game and a desire to improve.

We left the old CBS Sportsline league and moved to the new ESPN sponsored league 'all-star' (no capitals) to face-off against a bunch of guys from Texas and Utah.

Yeah, I thought that was pretty amusing too.

The new league has a few twists compared to the last one. Instead of doubling the assists, they only count one for one, and both field goal %and three point shots made are stats to be reckoned. How these make any sense baffles me, if a guy hits a lot of three point shots won't his scoring be higher - and don't we already count that? And counting field goal % is like using shooting % in hockey, only more retarded. Anyway, it is what it is.

The new league allowed you to go in and rank all the players in the top 200 or so. Then at a specified date the 'draft' is held - which takes all of a few picoseconds of computing time since human beings aren't involved. Check the website later that day and 'voila' I had my new Skywalkers!

The teams are structured like this;

You must have one of each of the five starting positions filled; Point Guard (PG), Shooting Guard (SG), Small Forward (SF), Power Forward (PF) and Center (C). Then you get to dress one extra Guard (PG or SG) and one extra Forward (SF,PF or C). On top of those starting five and two reserves you have three 'utlility' players who can be of any position, and three guys of any position to sit on your bench - for a total of 10 players whose stats will count for you each and every week and three reserves.

Here's a rundown of how my 'draft' went; ?Note, I was picking 10th in a 10 player league (second year running I've been bottom drafter), so I had the wraparound.

1. Kevin Garnett-PF Bos

I think I had KG ranked 8th on my list so I was pleased to see him land on my squad. His numbers have diminished slightly from his MVP caliber seasons, but that is more attributable to coaches being more judicious with his floor time. Two players I want to monitor are Carlos Boozer-PF in Utah and Dirk Nowitzki-PF Dallas as both were taken ahead of KG and I want to see if the GMs who did so were justified.

2. Dwayne Wade-SG Miami

I had Wade all of last year so I know what I am getting from him. He's a top five stats buster when he's healthy and motivated - which is roughly 50 games a season lately. If he makes it a full season and the Heat are gunning for a playoff spot, his numbers should be sick wicked and nasty. If the Heat flounder early and often he'll see his minutes and intensity drop as he seeks to avoid more injuries. I prefer to see the upside of Wade, and this year he isn't the Skywalkers top pick so the pressure is off. I could have had Steve Nash with this pick, so I may have some explaining to the fanbase to do.

3. Joe Johnson-SG/SF Atlanta

I've loved JJ since his time in Phoenix, and his game hasn't declined at all. Somebody picked the injured for most of the year Gilbert Arenas ahead of him (HA!), and I'm sure he was overlooked in part because the Atlanta team is in total dissaray. Except Johnson - who is wicked awesome.

4. Al Jefferson-C Minnesota

I am shocked this monstrous center was still available in the fourth round - but as you will note this becomes a common refrain for me. Jefferson was the centerpiece of the KG trade that landed the Big Ticket in Boston. I checked a bunch of different draft boards and many had Jefferson in the late first early second. None had him in the 4th.

5. Tyson Chanlder-C New Orleans

I had Chris Paul as one of my top players to get, as well as his partner in crime David West. Unfortunately I had to settle for the third best player in New Orleans, alley-oop dunk machine Chandler. His assist totals are non existant, and his points are all from Chris Paul lobs, but at this stage he provides solid rebounding numbers to go with his offense.

6. Greg Oden-C Portland

One of the setbacks you get in an auto-draft is that you can't account for positions already filled. I already have my top center in Jefferson and a solid backup starter in Chandler - so I really would have preferred to take a point guard (Leandro Barbosa was still available) or small forward (Lamar Odom) instead of Oden here. That said, Oden looks like he could be a monster right out of the gate especially with his ability to collect blocks and rebounds (can you say 'trade bait'?, I knew you could).

7. Brandon Roy-SG Portland

Ridiculous. Roy lasts until the SEVENTH round? How did that happen? I don't care. As one commenter put it 'this is the last year Roy will be available outside of the 2nd round'. If there is one pick I made that I think will boost me into top contention it is this one.

8. Tracy McGrady-SG/SF Houston

Last year I drafted the immensely talented but seriously injury prone Yao Ming out of Houston. This year I drafted the immensely talented but seriously injury prone McGrady. Last year Yao was my 2nd rnd pick, this year McGrady is my 8th round pick. Call it a lesson learned. McGrady has all the tools to win the scoring title but is hurt more often than Michael Nylander. In the 8th round though I think he could be an awesome value. In retrospect I may have preferred Josh 'Reefer Madness' Howard here as my small forward pick, but the truth is McGrady has way more upside to go with his risk.

9. Jermaine O'Neal-C/PF Raptors

Last year I was shut out of the Raptors largely because everybody I was in the pool against was Canadian - so there was some homer action going on. This year even with weighting my lists heavily to favour them I only managed to land O'Neal - a guy who hasn't had a healthy season in his last five. That said, he's dropped weight, worked out like a fiend in the off-season, and has been playing sparing but effective minutes for the Raptors in the preseason. If he can stay healthy this pick is a total winner. If not, I wasted a 9th rounder.

10. Kevin Love-PF Minnesota

I moved him way (I mean WAY) up my draft rankings after seeing him play some college ball and a drooling over his scouting report. A gym-rat, Love is known for making absurdly difficult shots (like from behind his own net into the opposing basket), and wicked no-look passes. I knew everybody would load up on Beasley (the top forward pick from this years draft) but Love was the guy I wanted all along to fill out my roster. In Minny alonside Jefferson he could get the playing time necessary to post ROY numbers.

11. Marvin Williams-SF Atlanta

A pure scorer he brings little else to the table aside from some anemic rebounding and assist numbers. That said, a slight uptick in either and he would be a starter.

12. Thadeus Young-SF Philadelphia

He's on all the top prognosticators 'sleeper' lists as his per 40 minute stats from last year were very impressivew. Unfortunately he has to displace the absurdly gifted Andre Iguodala to get starting minutes at the SF in Philladelphia.

13. Russell Westbrook-PG Oklahoma City

A decent enough pick to fill out the bench and another rookie, but that isn't the problem. The problem was that Westbrook is my FIRST POINT GUARD, which means I have to play him in my starting lineup!

So in reviewing my team my team looked like this;

PG Westbrook (!)
SG Wade, Roy
SF Johnson, McGrady, Williams, Young,
PF Garnett, O'Neal, Love
C Jefferson, Chandler, Oden

Seeing the obvious (I have way too many decent quality Small Forwards and what amounts to a black hole at Point Guard) I dealt Marvin Williams to the 'Rampage' for his backup PG Boston's Rajon Rondo.

Now Rondo was a guy I became familiar with last year. He was a mid-season pickup (thanks to injuries) who produced steady average production in assists, gave me weak offense, and excellent rebounding for the PG spot. However, after watching him in the playoffs with Boston it became pretty clear to me that Rondo - and not Ray Allen, was the third best player on the Celtics championship team. So dealing the one dimmensional Williams for him was a blessing.

All in all this trade infused me with real hope. If Rondo can be average or better at PG, I think I have the makings of a top end team. Jefferson is a top 3 center, Wade is a top 3 SG, Johnson is a top 5 SF, and Garnett is a top 3 PF, giving me a dominant starting four, and way above average starting five.

I've also made inquiries into whether or not Jose Calderon might be available, but so far the asking price is Al Jefferson and that doesn't make sense to me. As it stands I am hoping to see Gilbert Arenas hit the waiver wire so I can scoop the injured one up for nothing and stash him on my bench till the 2nd half of the season rolls around, where I will unveil him as my secret weapon for the stretch drive.

Last years mistakes (Yao, Kirilenko, Artest, Stephen Jackson) have all been avoided, with only Wade making another appearance on the team - and he does so only after we pick KG ahead of him, so if nothing else we seem to be improving at the GM level.

Go Skywalkers!


Quote of the Day

"Cheese crumbs spread in front of a copulating pair of rats may distract the female, but not the male". - Alfred Kinsey


Andrew Sullivan's Live blog of the Presedential Debates.

9.57 pm. Some readers seem to think my description of Obama as boring is meant as a criticism. Subjectively, maybe it doesn't give me a Lowry. But objectively, it's brilliant. The first black president will only get there by boring a lot of white people. And haven't we had enough drama in the last eight years? Boring is fucking awesome after Bush. " - Andrew Sullivan

(timeline starts at the bottom)


Quote of the Day

Discovered over at Marginal Revolution;

R: "I'm quite pessimistic about the current financial system. I've been buying gold."

A: "Gold? That's not pessimistic enough. I've been buying rice."

Picture of the Day


White Chocolate Retires

My favourite highlight is around the 1:30 mark where J-Will puts a brutal cross-over onto all-star defender Gary Payton and left him grasping at air.

On a side note, I really dig rap music without lyrics, case in point is how this instrumental version of 'T.R.O.Y' is infinitely better than the original.


Quote of the Day

"COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? Allow them to spend more, and put more money into the economy, instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?"

"PALIN: That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in. Where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh, it’s got to be about job creation, too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reigning in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade — we have got to see trade as opportunity, not as, uh, competitive, um, scary thing, but one in five jobs created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation."

I think calling her response 'incoherent' is probably about as kind as I can be. Seriously. Three weeks of intense study with a spread of PR, policy wonks, and fellow politicos and the best she can do is babble word salad. "Why do you want to help the banks?" must have been a question she would have been prepped for? Right?

Sarah Palin has morphed from Governor of Alaska, super-hockey-Mom of five, hot librarian MILF, into a completely hollow android whose poor positronic brains sparks and sizzles when asked to compute Pi to the last digit.


Obama vs McCain - the economy

The Atlantic has two political ads up, the first is Obama's plan for the economy, the second is McCain's.

After watching them who do you think is more serious about addressing the economic issues of the US?

(I'm looking at you Badrabbi...;-)


McCain as Rove

Here is what I think will be the watershed moment of the McCain campaign, the moment where if you will, he has jumped the shark.

Typically you see this kind of thrashing around with whatever lies you can muster only in the dying moments of a campaign - at the point where the fact that they aren't true has no time to enter the news cycle or penetrate the voters. But McCain's plan coming out of the Sarah Palin bounce (and soon to be 'thud' as she is revealed to be woefully inadequate as a 2nd in command) was simply to smear and smear again - which isn't a plan so much as an admission of defeat by other means. Even the typically stalwart right wing demagogues have found this level of sleaze in the McCain ads to be troubling.

Afterall, what does it say when Karl Rove thinks you've gone to far?


Sarah Palin is Sean Avery

In Nate Silver's world, she's the fourth line agitator who takes the star player off their game by making it about her glove to the face rather than about scoring.

Silver's blog, FiveThirtyEight, is by far the best electoral projection coverage running.

For those of you have bets with me regarding Obama's margin of victory being greater or lesser than 15 electoral votes, I am standing by my revised bet and am willing to double down on Obama by 50+


Quote of the Day

"Jesus Saves. Everybody else takes damage. " - spotted on a U of L student's T-shirt.

Remember Kids...

....Steroids are BAD for you.

Riddle me this, who is the Batman?

This is a fan-created poster - but they have nailed it.


How Allen Iverson wrecked the point guard position

An interesting look at how a variety of decisions (a new age restriction for the draft, focus on scoring from guards, the popularity of Allen Iverson, etc.), has created a new breed of more selfish point guard play at the college level.

A quest for the perfect pork martini

In world beyond revulsion, beyond reverse peristalsis, there lies the PORK MARTINI

Under no circumstances short of a million tax free dollars would I ever try this at home.

Here are some of my favourite quotes;

The ground pork, which had never been very pretty to begin with, reminded me of some tumors I had seen at the Army Medical Museum at Walter Reed."

The pork-infused vodkas were decanted from their glasses through a triple layer of cheesecloth into mixing glasses. This removed most pork solids, but no attempt was made to skim any oils present."

"The chilled Martini had a piggy bouquet beyond its plain pork-vodka aroma. Was that the endothermic effect of the chilled liquor alerting the nose, or the action of the herb-steeped vermouth? I sipped a little. No aftertaste or aftereffect beyond the expected tummy warmth. Little flavor at all, in fact. Dried meats would seem less than optimum."

(hat tip to AJ for the link)


Finally a Presidential Candidate who Republicans can embrace

Want a candidate in the Bush mold who is ;

For increasing executive power?

Well your candidate has arrived!


Picture of the Day

(click on image to enlarge)

"M87 is a massive elliptical galaxy smack in the heart of Virgo. It probably has something like a trillion stars, five times the number the Milky Way has. Over billions of years it’s built up its mass, eating the stars from other galaxies as they fly by (it also eats entire galaxies)."


"The image there is of M87. Take a close look; just about every single point of light you see there is a globular cluster! The beam coming from the center is a blast of particles and radiation being emitted from M87’s central supermassive black hole (which is a whole ‘nuther story unto itself)."

Phil Plait - Bad Astronomer


Video of the Year

Starring Natalie Portman!


Mars Porn

Image of this frozen waterfall on Mars is courtesy of the European Space Agency, via I09


Quote of the Day

"...if you had told any Republican in 1980 that 2008 would see (a) a Negro with an Arabic-Swahili name beating a veteran fighter pilot in the presidential polls and (b) gay marriage as the big cultural issue of the day, said Republican would have blown several gaskets. And if you had said that this would have been the result of an "Age of Reagan" said Republican would have melted down completely." 


RIP George

And of course;


Quote of the Day

"I refuse to be lectured on national security by people who are responsible for the most disastrous set of foreign policy decisions in the recent history of the United States. The other side likes to use 9/11 as a political bludgeon. Well, let’s talk about 9/11.

The people who were responsible for murdering 3,000 Americans on 9/11 have not been brought to justice."

They are Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and their sponsors – the Taliban. They were in Afghanistan. And yet George Bush and John McCain decided in 2002 that we should take our eye off of Afghanistan so that we could invade and occupy a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. The case for war in Iraq was so thin that George Bush and John McCain had to hype the threat of Saddam Hussein, and make false promises that we’d be greeted as liberators. They misled the American people, and took us into a misguided war.

Here are the results of their policy. Osama bin Laden and his top leadership – the people who murdered 3000 Americans – have a safe-haven in northwest Pakistan, where they operate with such freedom of action that they can still put out hate-filled audiotapes to the outside world. That’s the result of the Bush-McCain approach to the war on terrorism"

- Barack Obama

I've been waiting for quite a while for someone to speak the obvious with such clarity. I was slow to get on board the Obama train, but this reaffirms for me that he is the perfect antidote to the insanity that was the neo-con agenda in Iraq and Afghanistan. More please.


The Munich visit

"When Bush and John McCain use Munich to defend not talking to Iran, they misuse history. Neville Chamberlain's mistake wasn't that he flew to Munch and met with Hitler; it's that he gave away half of Czechoslovakia when he got there."

- Jonathan Alter


Quote of the Day

"Religion. It's given people hope in a world torn apart by religion."

Jon Stewart


"It got me out of the trailer park"

Watching this gives me a window into how others perceive my interest in my hockey pool. Or comic books. Or role-playing comic books ala Champions (and I'm very,very, very tempted to try 'City of Heroes'), or Star Trek, or ancient Greek sophistry, or, uh well, you get my drift.

Well I'm looking through that window....it ain't pretty.


Clever Apes Use Tool To See Other Tool Land On Distant World

This is the Phoenix lander, parachute deployed, descending to the surface of Mars. The photo was taken by the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter one of several Orbiters around Mars involved in relaying information from the Red Planet back to our little blue dot.

Seriously, is this not cool?


Quote of the Day

"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

- From a recently auctioned collection of letters by Albert Einstein


Intel Dump

Given my new schedule as stay at home Dad blogging has been light of late. My apologies, but hopefully the following link-fest/commentary will make up for it!

Now, I'm not a big fan of the Templeton Institute, but they are running a very interesting debate question for scientists; 'Does science make belief in God obsolete?'

Speaking of science, turns out that invisibility might not be the science-fiction story we once thought. Nor for that matter, will mind-reading helmets be fiction for much longer.

Ever since the Drake equation made it clear that the extremely large number of stars in the universe makes the probability of intelligent life elsewhere very high, people have been wondering 'where are the aliens'. Nick Bostrom is one of those who hopes we don't find any.

I keep getting into arguments with believers who insist that Hitler was an atheist and that therefore atheism (or evolution - it depends on who I am arguing with) is responsible for the Holocaust, the invasion of Poland, etc. To them, I offer this picture.

What makes up the perfect pop-song is a question that has long perplexed the song smiths looking to cash in. One suggestion is that the song should be exactly 2 minutes and 42 seconds long. No more, no less. Being an empiricist, I checked my music library and found four songs that fit the bill; Jazz Butcher's 'Swell', theThe's 'Solitude', Hole's 'Celebrity Skin', and Soft Cell's 'Tainted Love'. I'll let you draw your own conclusions from that list but it does seem plausible the author may be on to something.

Some of you may know that I wept blood recently when the Steve Nash lead (and Shaq befouled) Phoenix Suns were eliminated by the hated San Antonio Spurs (as one friend put it to me 'F*ck Texas', but I digress). It's clear to anyone who is watching that with the multi-tool egomaniac Shawn Marion gone, coach Mike D'Antoni looking for a new team and Nash starting to break down from the high-temp he plays at, that the Suns are now in steep decline. Bill Simmons details how the most exciting team in basketball - maybe ever, flourished and then flew apart in just over 4 years time.

Behold, the future of furniture;

Having seen the future, let's revisit the past - here is a working version of Babbage's proposed steam powered computer.

Andrew Coyne (one of the three Andrews; see left) has a great article on how Harper's Tories have a hole where their soul used to be. It seems to be happening in slow motion, but ever so gradually Harper is becoming the very monster he swore to destroy.

Following in the footsteps of giants like Paris Hilton and Gene Simmons, we have the Jimi Hendrix sex-tape.

Reason magazine provides us with a handy guide to how the different US Presidential candidates would approach Supreme Court nominations. Reason is a libertarian mag, so the analysis is heavily skewed in that direction rather than a false left-right divide.

Being a stay-at-home-Dad the following items were of interest to me; inappropriate baby products! (courtesy of 'The Poop')
Below is the 'Baby hanger' - so you can go to the bathroom in peace. Sort of.

My favourite economics post of the last while is this awesomely titled 'It's Spring - Politicians are Stupid.'

Ever wondered who would play Sidney Crosby in the movie about his life? Wonder no more. There is something weirdly compelling about these pictures of actors and hockey players, but I can't put my finger on what it is.

This is very close to a short story of mine that friends liked; Where have all the Smith's gone?

Apparently one of the unintended consequences of global warming will be an increase in the burning of witches.

I remember how excited I was waiting for the sequel to 'Masters of Orion 2: Battle at Antares' (which aside from Sid Meirs' Civilization 3 is the single biggest time-waster I've ever had in my life - God Bless you Sid Meirs), and how disappointed I was when it sucked galactic donkey butt. So what has gone on to replace it as the space themed, turn based, interstellar development and conquest minded game? Where you not only manage each colony, a tech tree, a host of potentially hostile races, and vast be-weaponed fleets of plasma hurling death but also lets you custom each and every shape for your 'Star Fleet Battles' style of 2D combat? The answer is nothing.
My copy is now well over 15 years old, and I'm looking at installing a fan created patch version 1.4, and maybe even taking a look at the on-line play available.

Here's a great essay befitting the Kryptonian's 70th birthday; 'Why Superman will always suck'.

Uh oh. Turns out taking vitamins can shorten your life-span.

What the world has been waiting for; naked chicks on post-it notes. I should have gone to art school.

Nerve magazine rates the all-time top 50 Comedy Sketches.

Proof that people will argue anything;

Q: Unicron vs Galactus, who would win?

A: Galactus.

Why? Two words. Jack Kirby and the Silver F*cking Surfer. . So make it four words.

Every once in a while we get treated to the two Hitchens brothers (Peter and Chris) tearing each other a new one.

Here's more evidence that coffee is good for you.

Here's what happens when Iron Man and Batman discuss how the summer will go;


Bush's Exit Strategy: Iran?

CNN is reporting the resignation of the head of U.S. Central Command (overseeing American forces in the Middle-East).

To put this resignation into context, as if losing the head of U.S. Central Command wasn't enough to get you thinking this may be significant, you will probably want to look at the Esquire article that predicted this very outcome and makes some dire predictions for what his resignation may lead to.

Esquire "The Man Between War and Peace".


Inside Tarantino's Mind

Tarantino is decoded by two guys in Brazil



Quote of the Day

"How did they come this close to losing this? They had all the money, all the contacts, all the machine levers, the entire establishment, the biggest Democratic name in decades, and they've been forced into a humiliating death-match by a first-term black liberal with a funny name.

It seems obvious to me that the Clintons blew this because they never for a second imagined they could. So they never planned to fight it. Once put in a fair contest, they turned out to be terrible campaigners, terrible politicians, bad managers, useless executives, wooden public speakers."

- Andrew Sullivan


Intel Dump

Lots and lots of strange and curious new stuff;

- Check out the Obama Curve as of today (click on it to enlarge). Gotcha.

- Two great flavours that go great together; The Matrix and Carl Sagan;

- The best blog on space exploration 'Centauri Dreams' has an interesting article assessing the potential risks asssociated with SETI.

"The IAA SETI Permanent Study Group continues to work on it ('it' being the San Marino scale of threat assessment - ch), hoping to measure “…the potential exposure of employing electromagnetic communications technology to announce Earth’s presence to our cosmic companions, or replying to a successful SETI detection.”

- 'Macaciavellianism' - It seems that some of our monkey relatives thrive on being bastards;

"Described by Dario Maestripieri as being the sort of thing we think of when someone says "monkey", the macaque manages to flourish just about anywhere it finds itself, or wherever we put it. And it primarily does so by being nasty. "A rhesus macaque," writes Maestripieri, "can wake up one morning, feel a little drowsy, and find himself in danger of being killed by his best friends."

- Speaking of behaving like bastards, consider professor of philosophy Colin McGinn. He recently came to some extra attention for his excessively nasty review of Ted Honderich's book 'On Consciousness';

"This book runs the full gamut from mediocre to the ludicrous to the merely bad. It is painful to read, poorly thought out, and uninformed. It is also radically inconsistent."

What makes the review even juicier is that there are several back and forth responses between the two feuding philosophers, and because the disagreements between the two are very personal and may go back to a social occasion where one philosopher referred to the other philosopher's girlfriend as being 'plain'. Academia never seemed so pure a profession.

- At first blush I liked Ron Paul among the Republican field of presidential candidates, but the pretty glow wears off quickly. His brand of libertarianism is less a philo-political blue-print and more a catch-all excuse for collecting every black-helicopter chasing Dixiecrat with a grievance and gathering them together under a 'leave me alone to be a loony' banner. But its not just his worshipers that are over the edge, Paul's positions on the gold standard, The UN, race relations, and the constitution, are little short of

The deal breaker for me cames when he failed the basic reasoning test of endorsing evolution.

- Here's Michael Pollan author of 'The Omnivore's Dillemna' on how the plant world views humanity.

- What advancements did Intelligent Design theory make in 2007? 'None'.

- More proof that desire is the ultimate democracy; Deaf Porn.

- Spiderman rants on the the decline of America under George W Bush. No word on whether the webbed wall-crawler would vote for Obama.

- Check out the strange and disturbing art of Julie Morstad. Don't argue, just do it. Art is like broccoli, even if you don't like it its still good for you.

- Jeet Heer from 'Sans Everything' has this awesome take-down of the National Review's checkered history for opposing terrorism.

- Speaking of NRO, Jonah Goldberg, that writer of decidedly limited talent who achieved most of his fame through a toxic brew of nepotism and contrarian douche-baggery, is calmly eviscerated in this post .

- Looks like the evidence is now fairly clear that the Old World gave the New horses, colonialism, and gunpowder, while the Old World managed to give back to the New World a plague of Syphilis.

"They said a genetic analysis of the syphilis family tree reveals that its closest relative was a South American cousin that causes yaws, an infection caused by a sub-species of the same bacteria.

"Some people think it is a really ancient disease that our earliest human ancestors would have had. Other people think it came from the New World," said Kristin Harper, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University in Atlanta.

"What we found is that syphilis or a progenitor came from the New World to the Old World and this happened pretty recently in human history," said Ms. Harper, whose study appears in journal Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases.

She said the study lends credence to the “Columbian theory,” which links the first recorded European syphilis epidemic in 1495 to the return of Columbus and his crew."

Not the fairest of trades, but just in it's own way.

- Medicins sans Frontiere lists the top 10 under-reported humanitarian crisis of 2007

On the list;

- The rise of drug resistant Tuberculosis
- Restricted humanitarian aid in Myanmar
- The health care crisis in Zimbabwe
- The targeting of civilians in Sri Lanka's civil conflict

Not very cheerful reading.

- . Well, I've done McGinn vs Honderich, how about something a little more evenly matched like, Gould vs Dennett perhaps? (IMO Dennett wins)

- WNBA Live 2008

- Once upon a time, I took part in a pair of moderately successful campus election campaigns. Here are some things I wish I had known then; 'How to rig an election'.

I believe this line about says it all;

"You don’t win any prizes for running a moral campaign. Success in politics is all or nothing: a candidate wins or loses, period, and either ends up with power (and the extreme likelihood of retaining power) or no power whatsoever. So the “right” thing is simply defined as the “winning” thing."

Machiavelli (not to mention the Macaques' mentioned above in #2) would be proud.

- So long as I am covering 'How To...' subjects, here's one on How To Get Laid In NYC (or any city). Sadly, I lacked this information at the time it would have done me the most good.

- Harper's gov't officially recognized the reality that the US is a nation that tortures people.

Wait! Not so fast!

Here is Jeet Heer on how on Harper's swift reversal is indicative of what our 'special relationship' with the US entails.

- Disturbing and plush stuffed toy monsters.

- Three of the coolest words you'll ever hear used together, 'Origami Space Plane'.

"Japanese researchers and origami fans are getting together to develop an specially-folded paper airplane they want to launch from the International Space station, so that it will survive re-entry, and land back on Earth again."

So. Awesome.

- From 'Strange Maps' comes this determined effort by the Dutch to moisturize Mars.

- Will the new season of Battlestar Galactica be heading back to Caprica?

- A compilation of the top 50 Atheist slogans and bumper stickers

A sample of ten;

10. I Forget - Which Day Did God Make All The Fossils?
9. The Spanish Inquisition: The Original Faith-based Initiative
8. "When Lip Service to Some Mysterious Deity Permits Bestiality on Wednesday and Absolution on Sundays, Cash Me Out". - Frank Sinatra
7. God Doesn't Kill People. People Who Believe in God Kill People
6. "Worship Me or I Will Torture You Forever. Have a Nice Day."­ - God.
5. There's A REASON Why Atheists Don't Fly Planes Into Buildings
4. God Doesn't Exist. So, I Guess That Means No One Loves You
3. "Intelligent Design" Helping Stupid People Feel Smart Since 1987
2. If God Wanted People to Believe in Him, Then Why Did He Invent Logic?
1. Jesus is Coming? Don't Swallow That.

Anyone wishing to gift me with one of these on a T-shirt goes directly to heaven.

- The 'New Atheism' isn't really new.

- The best blog post title I've encountered in many months; 'Ursula Le Guin and a giant squid battle for the future of Gay Utopia'. Pure genius.

- My new favourite science fiction blog 'i-09' has a terrific article on the rise and fall of cyber-punk (and rise again) in publishing and movies.

- More proof we already live in the future - monkeys can now mind-control robots

- Tired of science fiction movies and novels that all seem strangely the same? Blame the Joseph Campbell Checklist. In that same vein (and also from the excellent i09 blog) comes this; 8 reasons why 'The Hero's Journey' Sucks.

- The future of convenience; The Marijuana ATM.

- From the NY Times; 'Waving Goodbye to Hegemony'

- Finally, a theoretical break through we have all been waiting for; ' the Mormon Bigfoot Genesis Theory'.


Quote of the Day

Gary Kasparov on Bobby Fischer;

"Fischer's relentless energy exhausted everything it touched - the resources of the game itself, his opponents on and off the board, and, sadly, his own mind and body. While we can never entirely separate the deeds from the man, I would prefer to speak of his global achievements instead of his inner tragedies. It is with justice that he spent his final days in Iceland, the site of his greatest triumph. There he has always been loved and seen in the best possible way: as a chessplayer."

Garry Kasparov
Moscow - January 18, 2008


Atheist Superheroes!

(click to enlarge)

From left to right;

Backrow; Yellowjacket (Henry Pym was also Goliath and Ant-man, but definitely is coolest as YJ), Starman, Dreadstar, Booster Gold, The Atheist (go figure)

Front row: Quasar, Blackhawk, Mastodon, Vivisector (in front of Mastodon - also worth noting that Vivisector is openly gay), Mr Terrific, The Savage Dragon, and the Nazarite (who I believe is from a religious comic).

This link (as well as the header) takes you to a table of the different superheroes and their associated religious affiliation.

The picture above was from a site called 'Omni Brain' and omits;

Agnostics (who are still technically atheists); Green Arrow, Y the Last Man, Slaying Mantis, Amok, Kyle XY

Secular humanist; Reed Richards

Communist Atheists (which is a curious designation as 'Communist' isn't a religion); Red Star, Vanguard, Crimson Dynamo, Doctore Volkh, Mikula, Ursa Major, The Collective Man, Colossus

and 'techno-futurist' Iron Man

But most interesting of all, is (my personal favourite) Wolverine;

His designation is 'raised protestant, has practiced Buddhism, sometimes atheist, sceptical seeker' which is something that about covers my perspective too (though my flirtation with Buddhism was for all of 10minutes, and there is nothing 'sometimes' about my atheism).

What kind of atheist are you?

What kind of atheist are you?

You scored as Scientific Atheist

These guys rule. I'm not one of them myself, although I play one online. They know the rules of debate, the Laws of Thermodynamics, and can explain evolution in fifty words or less. More concerned with how things ARE than how they should be, these are the people who will bring us into the future.

Scientific Atheist


Militant Atheist


Apathetic Atheist


Angry Atheist


Spiritual Atheist