Friday, January 28, 2005

Alone in the Theater 

I get a perverse, sadistic glee when a newly released movie is so overwhelmingly awful. Think Gigli or Pluto Nash. It's so much fun to read Rotten Tomatoes, because movie critics attempt to outdo each other tearing the offending movie into bloody little pieces. The latest mental assault on the moviegoing public is entitled Alone in the Dark, which gets a lofty 1 positive review out of 32 on the Rotten Tomatoes site. Here is a sampling of critics', ahem, "opinions."

"...films like "Battlefield Earth" and "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" await a film of this magnitude because it gets awfully lonely on the island of misfit movies."
-- Jeffrey Lyles, GAZETTE (MD)

"Too stupid to watch, too loud to nap through, Alone in the Dark shows just how tenuous Plan Nine From Outer Space's hold on that 'worst movie ever' title really is."

"Actually has an entire group of adults call out to a lost comrade, 'Marco!' What does he expect the audience to do when they hear that? I mean, come on."
-- Fred Topel, ABOUT.COM

Saying Uwe Boll’s Alone in the Dark is better than his 2003 American debut House of the Dead is akin to praising syphilis for not being HIV."
-- Nicholas Schager, SLANT MAGAZINE

This is jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, 'I-can't- believe-someone- made-this-crap' badness we're dealing with."
-- Dustin Putman, THEMOVIEBOY.COM

No, I'm not going to see it. I don't plan on getting that drunk anytime soon. Why should I? I was just more entertained than if I watched the thing, and I still have the nine bucks in my pocket.

The next few weeks look to be the same. The "highlight" should be the movie Boogeyman. In its commercials, the movie attempts to establish credibility by mentioning it came from the same people who made The Grudge. Oh yes, I'm going to race out the door and see that. More unintentional comedy to ensue, I'm sure.

UPDATE: I see I'm not the only one beating Alone in the Dark and its director Uwe Boll like a rented mule.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

My Old Friend Insomnia 

It seems like I've always had sleep issues. At least I know where they come from. My mother usually takes the obligatory afternoon nap. One of the highlights of Thanksgiving is the betting pool the cousins set up to guess the time my uncle will be passed out in the living room. I come from a family that needs a lot of sleep.

Add the fact that I have trouble getting to sleep, and almost as much trouble getting up. Trying to keep my circadian rhythms somewhere approaching normal is a full-time job. When I am "unencumbered by work," as I currently am, my body wants to play the role of night owl. When Drew Barrymore was talking to Letterman Conan O'Brien about laying awake at 4am, thinking about things like "Vanna only turns the letters right-to-left" (Is that backwards? ed.), I was with her. I'm glad I have an active, inquisitive brain, but an "Off" switch would be really useful to have.

Today was one of those days my body demanded payment on a sleep debt. There's little that's more disorienting than falling asleep in a bright room and waking up in a dark room. Is it Thursday or Friday? Oh well.

I ended up remembering my dreams pretty well, something I can do about a third of the time. This dream was noteworthy (hence blogworthy) because one of the features of the dream was that I dreamed I was asleep and dreaming. As Homer Simpson would say, "Cosmic." The funny part was, in my dream I was woken up by my mom, but then went back to sleep. (No, it couldn't have really happened, I live alone.) I wonder if, since I was dreaming I was asleep, that counts as double my sleep time. It would sure be an efficient way to recharge my batteries.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to see if I can get back to sleep and get those people who were throwing knives at me. Don't ask.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Live Free or Die 

I think whenever our enemies want to speak out, they should be allowed to do so. Inevitably they will bury themselves with their own words.

The latest example is the most recent diatribe attributed to terrorist sociopath asshat Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In what is assumed to be his words, he declares "bitter war" not only on the upcoming Iraqi elections, but on "this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology." It's always so helpful when our enemies remind us why fighting them is good and noble.

I feel the chief reasons for Iraq war were, to be kind, flawed (WMD? It seems to me that terrorists were/are more likely to acquire WMD from the former Soviet Union, among other places). However, that does not in any way diminish the goodness that the upcoming elections represent. They are indeed a big deal and worth standing up for. Zarqawi may be a murderous slimeball, but he gets it. Democracy and Islamic fundamentalism are no more compatible than matter and antimatter. Even a semi-valid election will be a huge blow to his cause in Iraq.

It has already been proven that tyranny is not safe in any culture, so long as there is democracy elsewhere to inspire the population. We saw that in 1989, when Chinese pro-democracy protestor erected the Goddess of Democracy in homage to the Statue of Liberty. There are always stories of tyrants taking extraordinary steps to maintain control while trying to keep democratic influences out, such as the laughable haircut guidelines North Korean men are expected to follow. Tyranny may score temporary victories against the march of democracy, but end the end it seems that those opposing democracy are on the losing side of history.

With modern communications and media, virtually everyone knows how the other side lives, and everyone wants the opportunity to think, act, and worship as they see fit. Even if the Islamic world could be walled off, literally and figuratively from the rest of the world, the democracy genie isn't going back into the bottle. For Islamic militants, not fighting democracy isn't an option. As long as any democracy exists, it will be an existential threat to Islamofascism.

The overall War on Terror isn't really about terror or even fundamentalist Islam. It's a battle between the Medieval world and the Modern world. Thom Hartmann describes life in 11th Century Europe:

Back in the Dark and Middle Ages, the Catholic Church ruled Europe. Women were often forbidden to go out in public unless properly covered and were explicitly the property of men.

Justice was swift and severe, ranging from disfigurement to torture to death in horrific ways, and most often meted out with the approval or supervision of clerics. The power behind the power of all the royal families of Europe was the Pope.

That description could just as easily apply to life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

This is a war not between Western and Islamic civilization, but between the 21st and 11th Centuries. And the 11th Century world must fight for its life now, or be slowly strangled by modern ideas. Therefore, those of us in the modern world have no choice but to fight it unconditionally, until its worldviews and culture is relegated entirely to the history books. Indeed, as long as we keep out will, it is a fight we are destined to win in the end.

God bless all those who vote in Iraq next week.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Frontier Bris 

Johnny Carson died today at age 79, from emphysema likely related to smoking.

I only got to see the ending years of his Tonight Show run. The funniest moment I remember from the show took actually took place before I was born. Like many of Carson's best moments, it involved Johnny getting the best out of an unplanned event. In 1965, Ed Ames went on the Tonight Show for a tomahawk throwing demonstration.

Let's just say his throw ended up going a bit south of his intended target:

Picture from Baby Boom HQPosted by Hello

After many, many seconds of audience laughter, Johnny responded: "I didn't even know you were Jewish. Welcome to Frontier Bris." I heard somewhere that the bit generated the longest uninterrupted audience laughter in TV history. The incident is included in this clip of the Johnny Carson DVD set from The clip is about four minutes long, and the tomahawk segment begins at around 1:45 from the beginning. It's worth a viewing if you haven't seen it.

Rest in peace, Johnny.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Actually More Like 12 

You Are 21 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

What Age Do You Act?

Via Helen.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Time for a Post 

OK, so I haven't posted since Sunday. Bad blogger, no donut. Whatever, I have good excuses (I think they're good anyway). I've been a good boy, spending much of my time sending out resumes to prospective biotech jobs and whipping up a curriculum vitae for a professor I want to volunteer for at sort-of nearby Bodega Marine Lab. Yes, even volunteers sometimes have to do a CV to get into academia. Life ain't easy.

The resumes and CV are all part of my Pull My Head Out of My Ass Project 2005, also know as "It's time to move on to The Next Big Thing." I spent much of 2003 and 2004 in temp jobs or looking for temp jobs. Not a good way to go through life, at least in the long term. I'm looking for something more concrete, and I'm trying to make sure Grad School will eventually be part of the plan. I'll let you know how the plan goes.

In the mean time, I'll put up a quiz and/or a pic. It's nice to be able to put up something quick, but I do have a couple of long posts in my head that I want to share with the world. I'll extract them from my head in the next couple of days.

That Giant Sucking Sound 

Waterspout off the Florida Keys, via NASA's Astronomy Picture of the DayPosted by Hello

This seems like a cheat to me since this is supposed to be the Astronomy Picture of the Day, but then again I've had a liking for meteorology and weather since I was a kid. Meteorology is full of neat stuff that is better to see in pictures and video than up-close and personal. I would include the above waterspout in that category. The site links to speculation that many ships that disappear in the Bermuda Triangle may have fallen victim to waterspouts. I think that's why there haven't been posts since Sunday: a waterspout sucked them out of the blog.

OK, I'll work on my excuses.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Random Thought at 1AM 

Does anyone know what happened to the WeatherPixie? I want my graphic back.

OK, I'm going to sleep now....

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Quiz Spam 

Which Nigerian spammer are You?

Since I can't spam you all, I can just put up a bunch of annoying (funny) quizzes instead. I'll post more serious stuff later, but this one was too funny to pass up. *Taken from

*Warning: The cut and paste HTML for the quiz is all jacked up (technical term). Appropriate for a Nigerian Spam quiz, eh? It's still a funny quiz, and if I could get the HTML to work, you can probably fix it as well.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Department of D'oh 

I am reminded time and time again what a good idea it is to get out of my routine and check out new blogs. I found this jewel from the Pirate's Blog, arrr!:

Posted by Hello

I like Sesame Street, but it had to go in place of the Simpsons. I couldn't find any Springfield Nuclear Power Plant threat level, though. Also, I couldn't find any recommendations from Homeland Security about what to do in the event of a doughnut shortage.


Looking through my stat counter, I see that I get some traffic from some unique web searches. Probably the most embarrassing are the hits I get because I have misspelled words in my posts. I got three hits for "Caifornia" (where did that "L" go?), and two more that included "abandonded" (I should abandon that extra "D").

It's kind of sad that if I had done a better job with the spell-checker, those people wouldn't have found the sight. Not too good for my reputation, though.


In honor of the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, no, just because I want something easy to post:

Splash Mountain
Splash Mountain: Everybody's got a laughing place
to go-go-go-woah! You are a romp through folk
lore from the old south, a cheery log ride that
is always pleasant despite such unfortunate
circumstances like a five story drop into a
briar patch that proves to be more fun than
scary. You are casual, friend, warm, and
inviting, if a little reckless, it's always a
zip-ee-dee-do-dah day for you even when you get
yourself into some mighty steep trouble. What
movie you sprung from, Disney doesn't like to
tell, some consider it racist, but never you
mind, the critters inside of you (previously
stars of 'America Sings') are always cute and
you are just here to have a good time. You
love the camera and you live life to your
fullest, your thinking is that if 'you WILL get
wet' you might as well sieze the day!

What Disneyland attraction are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Splash Mountain is actually a damn good ride, with a steeper drop than you might expect.

Career Advice 

Oops! I guess it might not be such a good idea to explain ALL the possible career options to kids:

PALO ALTO -- School officials in Palo Alto are reconsidering their use of a popular speaker for an annual career day after he advised middle school students that they could earn a good living as strip dancers.

William Fried told eighth-graders at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School that stripping and exotic dancing could be lucrative career moves for girls, offering as much as $250,000 or more per year, depending on their bust size.

Eight-graders aren't as dumb as people think they are (well, not ALL of them anyway), and I'm sure that most of the students came away from the discussion with nothing more than a good chuckle. I wouldn't expect a lot of students to walk out thinking "Hey, stripping is a good idea for me after all!". But it's a sensitive time in their lives to hear such a thing, as many kids don't feel that great about their body image as it is.

A more holistic presentation would include testimony about how strppers ended up in the business, and what life is like for strippers when they get older. Most kids can figure things out for themselves, the trick is to present the information in a complete and straighforward manner.

On the positive side, the speaker involved will have more free time next year, since he won't be burdended by having to give any more pesky career lectures. It's important to always find the positive in any situation.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Governator Takes the Bay 

California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been substancially popular in statewide polls, but still I was a little suprised by this:

Poll: Most in Bay Area Support Governor

(BCN) -- A majority of Bay Area residents approve of the job Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing as Governor, according to the results of a poll released today.

The Bay Area Poll, a poll of 600 Bay Area residents found that 55 percent approved of the republican governor's handling of his job, while 33 percent disapproved. The results come from an area of the state that is 54 percent democrat and 21 percent republican, the poll found.

Wow. Arnold leading in the part of the state that includes San Francisco, Berkeley, and Marin County. If these numbers hold, Arnold will barely have to campaign to get re-elected. I like to see that most voters in the Bay Area are pragmatists, and will throw their support being a Governor widely regarded as a moderate. I would love to see the Demos move in similiar direction and put up people closer to the center where most of us voters reside.

Landslide Update 

Sadly, the death toll at La Conchita is up to 10 people, including three of the Wallet family. I can't begin to imagine Jimmie Wallet's grief and I don't know what to say except I offer my prayers.

Pieter at Peaktalk notes that in Hong Kong, steel reinforcement and a covering of concrete was used to solidify similarly unstable hillsides. There is also a Southern California precedent: driving on the Pacific Coast Highway one can see that some of the infamous Malibu hills are reinforced in this manner. I'm not sure if the procedure could be used to shore up several hundred-foot cliffs, but I'm sure something more substantial than a wall will be put into place this time. Any engineers out there know the best way to stabilize high cliffs composed mostly of loose dirt?

For those interested in contributing (if you don't have Charity Fatigue, that is) Michelle Malkin includes a list of Ventura County charities accepting donations on behalf of the victims in La Conchita. The same post has a more in-depth account of the Wallet family tragedy, and links to more information on the slide.

On a related note, virtually every single road and rail line out of Santa Barbara remain shut down due to the storm. As of Thursday, there is only one main highway out of town, leading north. The Santa Barbara News-Press* tells the story of a high school coach trying to get home:

Bishop Diego high school basketball coach David Whittington went far out of his way to get home to Ventura to his pregnant wife, Cynthia, who wasn't feeling well.

He left Santa Barbara at 1 am Tuesday and drove up through Paso Robles to get on Interstate 5 south. It took him six hours through the heave rains and a little snow, but he made it home -- just as well because his wife went into labor Tuesday night.

Santa Barbara to Ventura is normally a 45 minute drive (30 minutes if you watch out for the California Highway Patrol). I guess babies have no interest in waiting for a more convienent time to make their entrance.

* I was unable to supply a direct link to the SB story, since the News-Press is the only paper I know that has a policy of charging to read the majority of their non-archived stories, unless you already receive the paper. I read the first half of the story off the PDF copy of the January 12th front page. I'm not paying 60 bucks a year to them, and I'll rant about this irritation at a point in the future.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Blogroll Update 

I was lax in pointing out the changes I made to the blogroll, so I'll rectify that right now:

New Blogs of the Month

* Cutting to the Chase: I was able to find this one clicking that "Next Blog" button at the upper right of the page. Yes, you can find a decent random Blogspot blog (even if it takes twenty-some times). A free-lance writer in Oklahoma who seems to lean center-left politically.

* Peaktalk: Dutch born, living in Vancouver. Pro-American, center-right politically, and reasonable in tone. Specializes in international politics and markets.

* Protein Wisdom: Drop-dead funny. The highlight is the Martha Stewart Chronicles, a daily picture from the "prison diary" of the domestic diva. Leans right politically.

The Worthy Causes section:

I added a new charity section. I would suggest a look at them. If you want to contribute or assist, great; if not, that's fine too. I don't do begging, so if I add a charity to the list, I'll ask politely and leave it at that.

* Spirit of America: Started by Jim Hake as a way for individuals to help meet the need of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. Spirit of America fulfills requests for specific forms of aid to communities; things like sewing machines, tools, and soccer equipment. The group is not affiliated with the US government, and is supported by both pro- and anti-war individuals.

* Strengthen the Good: A network of bloggers led by Alan Nelson. Every month Alan selects a micro-charity to feature, and member bloggers assist in getting the word out. The stories behind the micro-charities are quite uplifting, which makes reading about them worth it even if you decide not to directly contribute.

* World Community Grid. An interesting project where individuals download a program from the grid site, which then receives and processes data for humanitarian research. The current project involves the structure of specific proteins, which will help understanding of how to treat certain diseases. I had previously mentioned this site here.

Thanks for sticking around to read this Public Service Announcement.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

La Conchita 

Picture of a landslide near La Conchita. A second slide later in the day killed at least three people. Photo by UCSB researcher and La Conchita resident Grace Chang.Posted by Hello

La Conchita is a small Southern California beach town halfway between Ventura and Santa Barbara. Situated in the narrow space between the cliffs and the ocean, it's a nice quiet town that unfortunately ends up in the news during particularly heavy rains. Today, a landslide wiped out 15 homes, killed three people, and left a dozen or more missing.

A sad part about this is that the same thing happened almost exactly ten years ago. Fortunately, no one died in that slide. A retaining wall was built to prevent the same thing from happening again, but it apparently during today's slide it "snapped like matchsticks."

It's really aggravating that this tragedy happened despite a history of previous slides (observed slides go back nearly 150 years), and extensive geologic study of the La Conchita area. Even an unsucessful lawsuit that determined that natural causes, not excessive irrigation of the above property, was the likely cause of the 1995 slide.

Clearly, a lot of attention was paid to the unstable geology of La Conchita before today's tragic losses. I don't know what (if anything) was being done to mitigate future slide damages, besides the unsuccessful retaining wall. I remember driving past La Conchita countless times and seeing condemned homes that still had not been removed even after several years.

People want to live in beautiful settings; I would love to live on the beach. There are homes on and below cliffs, on barrier islands, and many other less than stable areas. I'm sure most of the people know and accept the risks, but it just seems that after years of mudslides, scientific research, and litigation that someone could have taken steps to make La Conchita safer. Were there any ideas being tried?

Waterlogged LA 

Meanwhile, the same series of rainstorms that caused the damage in La Conchita, mentioned in the post above, also filled the LA Basin's rivers to the brim. Bill has some amazing pictures of the rivers; plus one of a cat on air conditioner trying to keep dry, staring down at the world in cat-like fashion. Weatherblogging and catblogging at once!

Monday, January 10, 2005

I Can Improve This Score 

I am nerdier than 73% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

If I had just remembered where I put my Periodic Table, I could been king.

h/t Caltechgirl.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Random Survival Tip 

I had the TV on in the background, and the local Fox station's news was running its weekly newsmagazine. They were retelling the story of hikers that got lost up in the Sierra snow and how they survived. One of the segments was an interview of a Marine survival specialist who had a good reccomendation for starting a fire in the wilderness:

Take a couple of cotton balls, and rub petroleum jelly into them. Get the jelly all through the fibers. Put a couple of these into a plastic bag and store it with you, in your car and/or backpack. Keep with it a flint striker (you can get one at a sporting good or army surplus store). The flint strike will immediately light up the cotton ball, even if the ball gets snowy or wet.

Pretty neat. The other suggestion was to carry a pocket mirror to signal for help, but I already knew that one.


Randy Moss of the Minnesota Vikings shows off his better side to the Green Bay Packer fans during their playoff game (AP Photo/Morry Gash).
Posted by Hello

What a weekend in the NFL wildcard playoffs. All four teams I was rooting for lost. Dammit.

Oh, and to Randy Moss: No, we won't kiss you ass. Kiss OUR ass.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Putting the Total in Totalitarian 

Leave it to North Korea to break new ground in how to run citizens' lives:

North Korea wages war on long hair

Apparently hippies are the greatest threat to the Socialist Workers' Paradise.
A North Korean government film crew went around the capital, Pyongyang, walking up to long-haired men and "challenged the fashion victims directly over their appearance." According to the program, mens' hair is to be kept to 1-5 centimeters; balding men over 50 may let it grow to 7 centimeters.

The North Korean regime also dictates, not surprisingly, how to dress as well. Here is an excerpt from a NK radio program, via the BBC.

Tidy attire "is important in repelling the enemies' manoeuvres to infiltrate corrupt capitalist ideas and lifestyle and establishing the socialist lifestyle of the military-first era," the radio says.

Ummm, OK. But what would Joan and Melissa Rivers say?

This is a story both very humorous and serious at the same time. We laugh when North Korean officials insist men get flattop haircuts or not wear that shirt from the Gap. But they get it, culture gets into places bombs cannot. The Chinese communists are taking the risk that it can keep power even with its people living a "modern, Westernized" lifestyle; North Korea is taking no such chances. I think (hope) both regimes will lose.

It all reminds me of a particular Wendy's commercial played in the 80's. The "Where's the Beef" ad is much loved by people, but there was another ad at least as funny:

The scene is a dark, drab warehouse in the Soviet Union. Cut to a stern looking man in uniform speaking into a microphone. He says "Is next...dayvare." It's a Soviet fashion show, exhibiting the next year's clothing line. Out walks a very large woman in a gray dress, while serious quick violin music plays. "Very nice" comments the Master of Ceremonies. "Is next…eveningvare.” The same woman comes out in the same ugly dress to the same music, except this time she’s carrying a flashlight. OK haha, I get the joke now. “Very nice.”

Cut to a shot of Wendy’s hamburgers, and a voice-over saying how good it is to live in a country with choice, and you can choose a variety of food at Wendy’s. Back to the Soviet “fashion show.” The emcee calls out: “Is next…swimvear.” Same woman, same dress and music, this time she’s carrying a beach ball.

You may be able to defeat cruise missiles, but MTV wins wherever it goes. I’ll leave alone the debate of how much of a good thing that is.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Pretty Colors... 

Raver Bear
Raver Bear

Which Dysfunctional Care Bear Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I've always been distracted by shiny objects.

Lake Cornholio 

Uh, Huh-huh. Whoa, check it out! There was like this lake and stuff that was named Bevis Lake, and this government dude changed the name to Butthead Lake. Huh-huh, cool, uh-huh-huh.

OK, I'll stop talking like that now. It is pretty funny though. I don't know what kind of reprimand the US Census employee will get, but I think they should keep the new name. Make it a tourist magnet and sell T-shirts.

I can now see how Lake Titicaca came into being.

h/t: Caltechgirl

Two Sides of Humanity 

Arthur Chrenkoff has a couple of interesting posts contrasting peoples’ words and actions in response the tsunami. People are either wonderful or total dicks. I guess tragedy really does do a good job of bringing out peoples' true colors.

Update: I fixed the second link (total dicks). I intended the link to go here. My bad.

Oh, and look, he found more people saying stupid things. Gosh, what a suprise!

Russian Around 

It's raining here in the Bay Area. Again. It's basically been raining since Thanksgiving.

I say, bring it on baby. Since California seems to be in a perpetual state of drought, the more rain the better. I've always been one who likes the rain anyway.

When the lower elevation gets rain, the Sierra mountains get snow, tons of it. Great for the Tahoe ski resorts, if only people could get there! The quote of the day was from a Russian tourist who managed to get on the slopes, and was obviously happy with the conditions. The reported made the comment "Well, it's not Russia," to which the man replied "It isn't?" Give some people a flask of vodka and a mountain of snow, and they're good to go.

His comment reminded me of a funny incident a few years back, when my mom and I visited Sequoia National Park. We spotted a couple with their young child (probably two years old or so). The boy was having a tough time with the uneven footing around one of the big trees, stumbling and nearly falling a couple of times. The couple, who had been speaking a language I presumed was Russian, noticed us watching the boy. After a pause, the father looks at us and says "Vodka." My mom and I immediately break up laughing. Just priceless.

Everyone stay dry, stay warm, and watch your footing this weekend.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


An artist's impression of a gas being pulled around a black hole (via by Hello

I can't think of anything profound to say about this, but I just thought it was neat.

Biggest Space Explosion Creates Giant Bubbles

The largest explosion ever seen in space reveals black holes to be more influential than expected, perhaps sometimes stifling star formation in a galaxy while gobbling up trillions upon trillions of tons of gas.

The eruption has been ongoing for some 100 million years, astronomers said Wednesday.

The outburst is orchestrated by a supermassive black hole that anchors a distant galaxy sitting amid a tight cluster of galaxies. The black hole has blown two huge bubbles into the galaxy, shoving aside a colossal amount of gas equal to the mass of a trillion Suns, or more than all the stars of our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Each bubble is many times bigger than those seen in previous studies.

Here's what happens: While the black hole feasts, a lot of incoming gas is ejected violently back into the galaxy along the black hole's axis of rotation. Two high-speed jets of superheated gas carve out the ever-expanding bubbles.

The scene was captured by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array.

I find it amusing that like sharks and two-year old children, black holes are messy eaters.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Rock Bottom 

Dennis Erickson expressing his feelings about the 49er Head Coaching job (Jeff Christensen/Reuters, October 17, 2004)Posted by Hello

Today was the official rock-bottom for the San Francisco 49ers. Ten years ago, the team was preparing for their annual playoff run that would end in victory in Super Bowl XXIX against the San Diego Chargers. Ten years later, after finishing the season with a 2-14 record, the team fired Head Coach Dennis Erickson and GM Terry Donahue.

To be honest, it is a good start, but it won't fix the team. I know nothing about how to run a professional football team, but I bet it's not that different from any other business. When a company is being run by people who either can't or won't set up a positive, focused work environment, the place goes all to hell.

I've been in several work situations, and I am absolutely convinced that like attracts like. If you're disorganized and lack focus, the company will run out of money. If you treat your employees badly, good employees will leave and be replaced by bad employees. However, a good work environment will attrack good people; bad workers either won't be able to hack it, or they will look for a place to go where nobody bothers to care.

It can be very difficult to turn a company's outlook around, but there are a special few who can do it. I wish the 49ers staff luck in finding those rare leaders who can.

I Have Intellegence? 

Your Dominant Intelligence is Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

You are great at finding patterns and relationships between things.
Always curious about how things work, you love to set up experiments.
You need for the world to make sense - and are good at making sense of it.
You have a head for numbers and math ... and you can solve almost any logic puzzle.

You would make a great scientist, engineer, computer programmer, researcher, accountant, or mathematician.

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

A shameless rip-off of Caltechgirl, Jay, and Bill.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Coming Up for Air 

First, let me pass on my usual regrets for not posting the past couple of days. Thanks to all who checked in, and I hope to do a little better at giving you all something fresh to see each time you visit. There are a couple of new posts below in addition to this one.

I can't say I'm that sorry, however. I thought the start of 2005 would be a good time for a Full-Blown Apartment Makeover. Creating a clean, ordered living space is such an empowering feeling. Whenever I felt depressed as a kid and wanted to snap out of it, I would clean and rearrange my room.I highly recommend it as a way to start to get things accomplished.

There's a lot I would like to get accomplished this year, in my career and personal life; I may even end up using that exercise bike more. Too bad blogs don't come with a "future archives" feature so I can see how it all will turn out.

Tsunami Efforts 

I'm just a little fish in the big pond of the blogosphere (and in life too), but I might as well do a little bit of good. Blogger Anders Jacobsen put up a challenge: for every blogger who places a list of Asian Tsunami charities on his/her blog, he will donate $1 US to the relief efforts. I decided to take him up, so those charities are now listed on the upper part of the blogroll in the right. I'll keep it up for a while, and I'll also put up a permanent Charities section soon as well.

I would add and recommend the page I chipped in a little to: the website Amazon set up.

By the way, that site has collected over $14 million dollars. Stingy?

Diet News 

I always enjoy reading stories like this: Proof of diet claims slim, review finds.

I've been lucky to be thin during my life, but growing older means that ol' metabolism will slow down. Plus I inherited enough bad heart genes to fill a cardiac ward. I need to start living heathy before I start gaining pounds.

Everyone knows that the only proven way to slim down is eat fewer calories and exercise more calories away. Eating only grapefruit or bacon or taking some pill won't do it, but every year there's some stupid new fad diet to distract people from the hard work of healthy living. It would be nice if there actually was a shortcut to health, but it ain't happenin'. It seems like all of us (me, too) need to be occasionally reminded of this fact.