Happy New Year…

… to those of you who let Pope Gregory XIII tell you what day it is.

A Festivus Eve Observation

Christmas Past: The religious right complains that Christmas is too commercialized.

Christmas Present: The religious right complains that Christmas isn’t commercialized enough.

Christmas Future: The religious right complains about being on Chiron Beta Prime, working in a mine for robot overlords protectors.

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Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day. To help you avoid getting dragged into yet another asinine argument over whether Columbus Day should even exist since the Vikings were here first, an argument over that argument since the people who walked across the Bering land bridge were really here first, or hearing Ohioans boast about how Columbus Day is way better than South Carolina’s lame Columbia Day, here’s a question you can use to distract argumentative people with:

Was Greenbelt, Maryland named that because it’s where the Washington Metro‘s Green Line meets the Beltway, or was the Green Line named that because it ends where the Beltway passes through Greenbelt?

Triumphant/Abundant Return

Since last Saturday was Chuck and Christina’s wedding, I headed back to West Lafayette, Indiana for the weekend. Of course, the wedding itself was just part of an elaborate plan to trick me into returning to campus during Purdue’s homecoming weekend. (That’s right, I know all about The Plan; what did you think I was reading on the plane, anyway?) Despite being aware of this foul play, I decided to go nonetheless, as I didn’t want Them to know I knew.

Unlike last time I headed to Indiana for a wedding, the travel itself went off without a hitch, aside from the fact that I now understand that your typical driver in Lafayette would get eaten alive in Maryland. I finally got to campus in time to catch the tail end of that evening’s improv club meeting, the running of which is going smoothly under its new management.

On the way to head out en masse for food after the meeting, I rode by the new CS building, you know, the one they’d been talking about ever since I was a freshman and that finally opened this semester. From the glimpse I got going past it looked as though they had picked up the stargate from Cheyenne Mountain‘s going-out-of-business garage sale, but apparently it was just some some loopy “sculpture” in the lobby.

After that, T-Rex, Tripod, and Alex graciously let me crash at their apartment. Luckily and strangely, they had a spare matress and box spring in their hallway which I was able to avail myself of. (I can only assume the hallway matress is there in case Hallway ever needs to do his eponymous thing.) Given the free mattress, only downside to crashing at Ryan’s apartment is the near-constant Game loss when in his proximity.

Come Saturday morning, I drove down to, um, the greater Lebanon area, I guess, for the wedding. This is where my deepest fears about The Plan coming to fruition made themselves felt, as the directions took me from interstate highway to rural highway to lane-and-a-half rural routes through cornfields. Fortunately, the little resort where the wedding was to be held finally emerged. I thus felt a little safer, but only a little, because statistically speaking it was probably one of the roughly infinity billion potential terrorist targets in Indiana according to DHS.

The wedding went off with only two hitches. The first was the wedding being moved indoors due to the threat (presumably due to the aforementioned terrorists) of rain. The second hitch was, of course, the wedding itself. The reception afterwards offered up plenty of oddness, and I’m not just talking about the orange cake in the buffet line. For example, the bride and groom sat at a small table apart from everyone else, including the rest of the wedding party. I can only assume it was meant to symbolize their new ostracism from the community, I guess? There was also the band, who I’m going to affectionately call The Sound Check Experience, because they spent way more time than anybody needs doing sound checks, including, in what I thought was a particularly tasteful decision, during the pre-meal prayer and the toasts by the best man and maid of honor.

After food and lots of time catching up with more friends I hadn’t seen in months (including Andy “I caught E. coli before catching E. coli was coolOber), we blew bubbles at the bride and groom as they left, because apparently throwing rice causes birds’ stomachs to explode, and throwing birdseed attracts birds (go figure!). Or at least, some of us tried, but the wind preferred to blow them back in our faces.

After driving back up to West Lafayette, I hanged out for a while with Tripod’s extended D&D group, which was just wrapping up in time for dinner, followed by a little Katamari and Smash Bros. action. And after that I went over to Hillenbrand Hall for some Settlers of Catan action with T-Rex, Jenny, Tripod, Cowboy, and an RA.

Fun fact: that Saturday was the longest continuous time in which I wore a tie.

Sunday, Tripod and I attempted to get a network game of Alpha Centauri, but judging from Wireshark‘s output, the Windows and Linux version of the game use not only different ports but also different protocols (TCP v. UDP, though I can’t remember which does which), so we ended up hotseating for a while. Also, I’m not entirely sure, but Tripod and T-Rex might’ve gotten me hooked on House.

Alas, after adjusting for travel time, the weekend soon drew to a close, and soon I had to head back down to Indy for my flight back out east. Stupid passage of time. But I showed it; I waited a week before writing this. In your face, fourth dimension!

Snakes preboarding a Plane

So apparently Snakes on a Plane hasn’t been doing too badly. But did you know that while Snakes on a Plane may be the first movie to be released based on an Internet meme[0], there have been other such movies in the works earlier, that simply failed to see the light of day? Here’s a sampling of some would-be offerings that never made it out of production:

All Your Base

Genre
Sci-fi thriller
Synposis
The FBI investigates the mysterious, unexplained appearance of cryptic messages appearing throughout the nation. Originally assumed to be the work of a suicide cult or terrorist group, things change once NASA discovers a spaceship entering Earth orbit. However, just before the military moves the Zero-gravity Incursion Group to attack, it turns out the messages were just the result of some kid using Photoshop, and the spaceship was just a coincidence. What a twist! (Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.)
Reason for Failure
Time Warner had already acquired the rights to the “All Your Base” name (see below), and efforts at finding an alternative title failed.

All Your Base Are Belong to U.S.

Genre
Comedy, animated
Synopsis
Was to be [adult swim]‘s first foray into feature films and intended to spawn a series of movies starring the cast of Space Ghost Coast to Coast. This movie would have been a zany spoof of American military and foreign policy during the early 21st century, with Space Ghost as the President of the United States, and co-starring Zorak as Secretary of Defense and Moltar as Secretary of State.
Reason for Failure
Abandoned after the cancellation of Space Ghost spin-off series The BRAC Show signalled a lack of interest in military-themed cartoons.

Roundhouse: The Chuck Norris Story

Genre
Documentary
Synposis
Chronicles the life story of legendary martial artist / actor Chuck Norris, beginning with the Big Bang (when he roundhouse kicked a singularity, thus creating the universe) all the way through to his ultimate showdown with Vin Diesel[1]. Stick around after the credits for a touching montage of every Mexican Chuck Norris has punched.

Reason for Failure
After filming completed, Chuck Norris demanded ∞% of the royalties. The producers couldn’t count that high, but Chuck Norris did. Twice. He then roundhouse kicked the completed film into the sun.

Switched! Ellen Feiss (working title)

Genre
Unknown
Synposis
Unknown
Reason for Failure
Script had been completed, but then the computer went “beep beep beep beep beep” and then the script was gone. Unnamed sources indiciate that it was a really good script. The writers were going to start over, but decided to get stoned instead.

Hampster Dance!!!!

Genre
Children’s, animated
Synopsis
Hampsters dance. And sing a song. For two hours.
Reason for Failure
Hampsters dance. And sing a song. For two hours. Test audience homicide rate: 46%. Test audience suicide rate: 54%.

Footnotes:

[0] OK, technically the plans for the movie came first, then the meme, then the movie. But if not for the Internet it would’ve been rated PG and called “Pacific Air Flight 121″.

[1] You may be wondering what the difference between a “Chuck Norris fact” and a “Vin Diesel fact” is. The answer is this: the Chuck Norris facts are true.

Meanwhile, Gustav Holst Falls Further Behind

Since it looks like that we’ll soon be designating three new bodies in the solar system as planets, we obviously need new mnemonic devices to remember the order:

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Charon, Xena

(Relax, Xena’s only an informal nickname; 2003 UB313 hasn’t officially been named yet. Besides, it could’ve been worse.)

The best I’ve been able to come up with is this:

Most Violent Extraterrestrial Monsters Couldn’t Joust Successfully Until Network Producers Cancelled “Xena”

The worst is this:

Mnemonics Vindicate Excessively Mundane Centuries’ Juntas, Since Undergraduates Need Pneumatic Cniderian Xenophobes

(Hint: try reading it aloud)

I Apologize in Advance

Back when I was in college, I learned exactly two things from reading the student newspaper, The Exponent:

  1. Four-star Sudokus are still pretty easy.
  2. The best way to protect someone from a pun is to encrypt it using a monoalphabetic substitution cipher before publishing it.

As a demonstration of this latter fact, I offer you this:

WX D BMD VDPL SHAXQARHL QPEG BQPZB DVQOC XWPDE XDPCDBG YWW, W BOSSQBH CUHG RWZUC IDEE CUHRBHEYHB “BDYH DHAWB”.

And against my better judgement, I’ll even offer you the customary cryptogram hint: K equals X.

Operator

You know how electronics stores like to ask you for your phone number when you buy something, even though they have no good reason to have it?

Well, I know have empirical evidence that at least two people give out the first ten digits of pi when the cashier asks for their number.

Exercise for the reader: why is it guaranteed that nobody’s phone number actually is the first ten digits of pi?

Pork Chop Sandwiches

G.I. Joe: Sigma Six is a cartoon and line of toys.

G.I. Joe: Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology applicable when fighting Cobra Commander.

Discuss.

Linux, Master of Time

Oh yeah, Indiana now respects Daylight Savings Time, as part of the state’s effort to emulate sane parts of the country. I almost forgot about it, but my computer didn’t. Which is pretty snazzy, since its time zone is set to US East-Indiana instead of ordinary Eastern. One of the updates along the way must’ve told it about the change.

I guess there’s nothing chronological that Linux can’t handle.

(Too bad I can’t say the same for WordPress.)

Happy Pi Day

Hey hey
Pi Pi Pi

I’ve got a circle here
How long is it from front to rear
And how far is it clear around the circle
Now take the ratio
It’s a number that we all know
What is it here we go
Yeah, let me tell you
Circumference and diameter, side by side
It’s 22 divided by 7
Pi Pi Pi

Archimedes‘ was a brilliant mind
Thought to be the very first man to find
A theoretical value for
Pi Pi Pi
‘Cause of Lindemann we know today
It doesn’t stop or repeat in any way
Its seven hundredth number’s 5
Pi Pi Pi

In 1999
Dr. Kanada of Japan did fine
While he was figuring the numbers in pi
He did all this you know
While working in Tokyo
Just how far did he go
Yeah let me tell you
206 billion, 158 million,
430 thousand numbers
Pi Pi Pi

It don’t matter how big or small
Pi will be the very same for them all
You do not have to wonder why
Pi Pi Pi
‘Cause of Lindemann we know today
It doesn’t stop or repeat in any way
Its seven hundredth number’s 5
Pi Pi Pi

3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944

Circumference and diameter, side by side
It’s 22 divided by 7
Pi Pi Pi

Archimedes‘ was a brilliant mind
Thought to be the very first man to find
A theoretical value for
Pi Pi Pi
‘Cause of Lindemann we know today
It doesn’t stop or repeat in any way
Its seven hundredth number’s 5
Pi Pi Pi

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New Horizons

Talk about timing. Following a link from Bad Astronomy, I tuned into NASA TV just in time to see the New Horizons probe launch from Cape Canaveral at 14:00 EST this afternoon. New Horizons will be the first probe sent to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. When the probe arrives in July 2015, it will hopefully answer a lot of questions about a part of the solar system we know very little about; Pluto is the only planet that hasn’t been studied by a probe already, and it probably isn’t anything like the inner rocky planets like Earth or Mars nor the gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn.

And yes, technically speaking, it’s dubious whether Pluto would be considered a planet if it were discovered today, but as far as I’m concerned it’s been grandfathered in to “planet” status even if the term becomes more rigidly defined, so there.

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Time Well Spent

From my laptop’s system logs earlier today:

Dec 31 17:59:59 kryten kernel: Clock: inserting leap second 23:59:60 UTC
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Drunk Girl

(Editor’s note: I originally started on this post last night, but Firefox gleefully threw it away thanks to an accidental page navigation when I was two-thirds of the way through. Let’s try this again….)

I know I haven’t been posting much lately on what’s going on in my life. I’ll try to rectify some of that by writing about some of the more interesting events of the past month or so.

We’ll start off with the story of Drunk Girl.

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In Defense of Evolution (Again)

In last Thursday’s edition of the The Exponent, Andrew Buesking replied to my response to his response to an article published a month ago. Got all that?

Since it’s nearly the end of the semester, The Exponent isn’t accepting any more letters for publication. Thus, I’ll resort to responding to his points below, in the hope that he, or anyone else following this discussion, will be able to find it. But at least now I won’t be limited to 300 words!

Here goes:

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