Saturday, April 4, 2009


The fact that the movie's own website has this trailer hosted at funny or die makes me suspicious. I'm not a fan of the teen-slasher genre, and never have been. But this is so marvelously tongue-in-cheek, so dark, such a perfect send up of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory... and the choice of Christopher Lloyd as a psychotic Willy Wonka is so perfect... that I'm really, really hoping this is for real, and not an eloborate April Fool's hoax. Anyone know for sure? Very little shows up in a Google search, though I haven't yet done a thorough look-around.
Followup, a few minutes later: Ok, looking around a little more, it looks like the "trailer" is the movie, but I found a "making of" clip too.

Such Class, Such Pluck

Golly, I guess Caribou Barbie's extended family is really down on their luck, now that American voters took away her Gawd-given right to be coronated queen... I mean VP. Todd Palin's half sister, Diana Palin, has been busted for burglary after returning to a house from which she had already taken $2200. The homeowner saw her coming and hid in the bathroom with a gun, then confronted her and called police after she entered and walked straight to the cabinet where the previously stolen money had been.

Before police arrived, Palin's four-year-old daughter entered. She had been waiting in the car. "Wait here, honey. Mommy has to run in to the ATM." Waitaminit... she has a daughter? And her last name's still Palin? Isn't she married? I thought... oh, never mind.

From The Anchorage Daily News. "He [Todd Palin] referred questions to a spokeswoman for the governor, who said the family would have no comment." No kidding. Is comment needed? As a follow-up, I'll note that this story pretty much snarks itself; I've left out a number of details that are equally appalling. You really need to read the whole thing.

The Heart of the Planet and Heart Disease

Science people are often hard-pressed to explain or give examples of how "basic" or "theoretical" science is justified, when there are so many "application" or "practical" science problems waiting to be solved. We all know that basic science pays off in the long run, but it's often difficult to explain to a non-science person how this is so. I know in my case, my background is geology, but I haven't earned an advanced degree in science, and I consider myself a generalist overall. Following the geoblogs, I often find myself fascinated by how geology has changed over the 20-some years since I got my BS. So frequently, the examples of payoffs from basic science are understandable when I carefuly read through them, but they're far enough outside my knowledge comfort zone that I readily forget them... I remember reading about them when prompted, but I can't recall details, and I certainly can't explain them in such a way that a non-science person would understand.

But I think I may remember this one: it's clear, simple and easy to understand and explain. Theoretical computer modeling of the birth of terrestrial planets has already saved a life!

Geologists studying how molten metal coagulates at the centre of planets while they are forming have discovered that their research can also be used to investigate blood flow in the human heart. Their work has already helped surgeons find the location of a potentially life-threatening blood clot in a patient's heart. Using sophisticated computer modelling developed to explore the flow of liquid metal through rocks, the scientists were able to show doctors where the patient's blood was gathering in a pool in their heart due to a blood clot.
From The Telegraph: How astrophysics could save heart patients. Amazing!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

As the Shepherds Tormented Their Flocks By Night

If you've never had the opportunity to see Border Collies do what they were bred to do, it's an amazing experience. But I never realized it could be such an amusing experience.

Glacier on the Move

I've just finished going through my geoblogs, and no one seems to have picked this up, so here you go. National Geographic has posted an awesome video composed of 436 individual photos taken between May and September, 2007, of the Columbia Glacier near Valdez Ak. They are pushing this, predictably, as evidence of global warming. While I find the video a wonderous thing to watch (I've viewed it now 5 or 6 times), I do not think that showing a glacier receding during the summer is very useful evidence of climate change. It's good evidence of summer. The article implies that this is a multi-year project, which is good... as long as they focus on the same glacier(s) over a period of years to decadal time scales. Which the article does not clarify.

I feel that tossing out such shoddy "evidence" merely encourages the climate deniers, and does not help the case at all. While I applaud the video, I dislike the spin.

Hat Tip to Swans on Tea.


There's apparently some major excitement going on in my cozy little burg this morning... some guy is barracaded in an apartment building... just saw a swat vehicle drive by, maybe it's over... and a full swat team is outside. The incident is at 25th and Harrison, about 3 blocks north and 8 blocks west of my current coffee-rific location. Not clear whether there's a hostage involved... there goes a police car. News articles here, here and here. Our local rag, the Gazette-Times, is up to its usual standards with nuttin as of this post.

Funny how this webified world works... JD (who sent me the conflicker finder I just posted) sent me a chat message from his work in Salem, about 30 miles away. I got on Google and immediately found the three articles above. Just a few years ago, I wouldn't have heard of this until tomorrow.

Followup: Whatever happened, it's over: "At 10:33 a.m., Oregon State University use its emergency alert system to tell students they should avoid the area until further notice. They lifted the red alert at 12:18 p.m., when the man was taken into custody."

Followup 2, 4:20 PM: The GT finally has the story. At least one of the links in the above story no longer functions. No injuries, no damage. Sounds like mental illness and/or drug use, to several of us coffee drinkers.


I have seen more warnings about the "conflicker" virus than I can shake a stick at, and I have wondered, if it's such a threat, why hasn't anyone released a free antiviral to get at it? My friend JD , who's a sysadmin, sent me one yesterday... you can download/run it here. He says there are countless variations of this virus, but this application gets the common ones. Now the funny thing is, this message came in right as I was reading about a similar bit of freeware at Bad Astronomy. I have run both, and both say I don't have this particular flu.

This virus is set to scan thousands of random sites tonight at midnight, for updates and further instructions, so no one knows exactly what it will do. But millions of computers are thought to be silently infected... like AIDS, it remains below the radar until a certain point, then blows up. Blowup time is midnight, folks. I was worried this would be a nuisance, but both routines run fairly quickly and painlessly.

Science Works!

The National Science Foundation's "Work" section is having some difficulty getting off the ground. Created as part of the economic stimulus package, Work Section's task is to apply the latest science and technology findings to job creation, and to identify areas in research where manpower is needed. The response to Call For Proposals announcements has been very weak though. Recently the foundation announced that they may have found an explanation: polls suggest that most users assume that their website, "," is a sting operation.