For reasons known only to himself, Ben Stein, former Nixon speechwriter, made a movie called eXpelled, which argues in favor of Intelligent Design. (And may we hope it will improve the IDers’ opinion of we atheists to note the Christ-like generosity I’ve displayed in using the word “argue” in that last sentence?) The proponents of Intelligent Design claim that it’s science all the way down to believe there’s no way life could arise in the universe without some anthropomorphic sentience behind it, and that ID totally has nothing to do with any religion like for instance lets just say Christianity. That unimpeachable lack of religiosity notwithstanding, eXpelled was distributed in a scripturally-resonant manner, in that it came and went from theaters like a thief in the night. If you asked me why Roger Ebert never reviewed eXpelled, that would be my guess as to the reason. Ben Stein is a professional conservative with a movie to promote, though, so if you ask him why Roger Ebert never reviewed it, he might say it’s because Ebert’s in the tank for Big Evolution. In fact, tonight via Pandagon I saw that he apparently did say something like that.
Stein must have confused Roger Ebert for a Democratic Senator or something, rather than a movie reviewer – a man whose job it is, among other things, to publicly declare awful movies to be awful, and explain why he thinks so. And of course, not only does Ebert do this job, not only has he done it for decades, but he is very, very successful at it. Maybe the most successful of anyone, ever. Why Ben Stein didn’t know better than to pick this fight, I couldn’t say, but god bless him that he did, so I could get to read Ebert pwning him so hard his trilobite ancestors probably felt it.
This is fair.
Tangentially: why are well-done imaginary dialogues so funny? Seriously, few things are so reliably likely to make me laugh.
New posts at Fafblog (which is the best blog, for those of you unfamiliar with it)!
They redesigned the site an everything, so presumably they mean to write more than just two posts. One can only hope, as does Robert Farley, that its revivification isn’t just a cruel April Fool’s joke.
The full text of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (a book I personally love) is now online here for you to read, for as long as you can stare at a computer screen.
And while I’m at it, I’ll remind you of the existence of Escape Pod, a weekly podcast of science fiction short stories, read aloud. It, too, is awesome, and free.
Ezra and Shakes posted this xkcd cartoon already, and I’m going to post it too:
How it works
The title is a description, not a command. Tor is giving away free .pdfs of some of their titles, at the rate of one a week, and they’ll email them right to your own personal inbox, if only you ask. Not only that, there’s a contest involved. I’m signed up, of course, because if there’s anything I like more than a book, it’s a free book transmitted directly through the ether into my home.
And of course, there is also the Baen Free Library.
Via The Editors, I think I’ve actually overloaded on cute.
On the Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society, I found a post about hole punch clouds, which took me to this perfectly wonderful site: The Cloud Appreciation Society. The very existence of a Cloud Appreciation Society website makes me happy and full of love for humanity. Then from this image of a tornado, there’s a link to video of that tornado. And then from there are links to many, many other videos of tornadoes on that site.
So that’s your post for today. Clouds, doing beautiful, amazing, terrifying things, sometimes all at once.
I haven’t seen Cloverfield yet. I plan to. But it’s my understanding that the monster in Cloverfield isn’t Cthulhu, though there was some wishful thinking in that direction when the first trailer came out.
I wish it had been, though. Part of what’s compelling about Lovecraft’s narrative voice is that he only gives half-glimpses of the terror he’s describing. Even in a story like At the Mountains of Madness, where you get full paragraphs of description of the shoggoth that chases the narrator and Danforth out of the ruined city (including an old skool Boston T Red Line reference – 617 souljaz reprazent!), he still manages merely to tantalize.
Partly for that reason, Lovecraft’s stories have been pretty much untranslatable to film. (Partly. Another reason is that the few attempts to put Lovecraft on film have been… conservatively funded.) The narration was too important to the ambiance of the story. The aforementioned tantalization depends on just that little white spot of illumination among the purple prose.
Cloverfield appears to be filmed in the style of Blair Witch: the idea is that all the footage was captured on camcorders, and has now been run together into a complete story. And by Christ, it strikes me, that’s the cinematic equivalent of the Lovecraftian narrative voice. A Cthulhu movie filmed entirely with shaky cameras, providing glimpses of horror that only stay in the frame long enough to frustrate the viewer, until they come back again into the frame, only for another moment, would be perfect.
At least to me. But that ain’t what Cloverfield is, it appears. Which means that the ship for camcorder-style giant monster movies has probably sailed, and it didn’t spear Cthulhu in the breadbasket on its way out of port.
From the comments to a post on the Whatever featuring a video of a Beatles-esque band doing “Stairway to Heaven”: this is the greatest thing I’ve heard all day.
But you’re right, I am. I can’t believe I spend as many hours a day as I do on the interweb, and have never heard Chocolate Rain until today, when Shakes linked to it while showing this:
First: “I move my mouth away from the mic to breathe in,” as I mentioned over there, is a ridiculously good line; I don’t care that it’s actually completely literal. That shit should be on t-shirts.
Second: Tay Zonday has the greatest voice since Kool Moe Dee.
I have become enthusiastic. I think I’m replacing the Airwolf theme with that piano loop for my ringtone.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention – he released the mp3 on a CC license! That’s real.
Also, I admire Tay’s iron determination to avoid anything that even looks like a chorus. Or a verse, I guess, depending on what angle you’re looking at the song from.
Kevin Drum has announced the winners of the Golden Wingnut award, for the all-time wingnuttiest blogpost. N.B. that first place went to a guy who used to call himself “Hindrocket.” Since most of you don’t spend nearly as much time on the Internet as I do, you might be slightly perplexed by the whole enterprise, so in addition to following the links to the winners, you can gain some context here, and read some of the posts whose authors had to settle for being honored-just-to-be-nominated.
These are some of the finest examples of batshittery ever devised by a man or woman simultaneously afflicted by Right-affiliated politics and the need to post to a blog. They deserve your attention; they’ve earned your amused contempt.
UPDATE: I forgot to add – via Matt Yglesias, see also a discussion by d at Lawyers, Guns and Money of fifth-place-winner “The Pussification of the Western Male.”
All environmentalists are French hippie pussies:
Goodwin leads me over to a red 2005 H3 Hummer that’s up on jacks, its mechanicals removed. He aims to use the turbine to turn the Hummer into a tricked-out electric hybrid. Like most hybrids, it’ll have two engines, including an electric motor. But in this case, the second will be the turbine, Goodwin’s secret ingredient. Whenever the truck’s juice runs low, the turbine will roar into action for a few seconds, powering a generator with such gusto that it’ll recharge a set of “supercapacitor” batteries in seconds. This means the H3’s electric motor will be able to perform awesome feats of acceleration and power over and over again, like a Prius on steroids. What’s more, the turbine will burn biodiesel, a renewable fuel with much lower emissions than normal diesel; a hydrogen-injection system will then cut those low emissions in half. And when it’s time to fill the tank, he’ll be able to just pull up to the back of a diner and dump in its excess french-fry grease–as he does with his many other Hummers. Oh, yeah, he adds, the horsepower will double–from 300 to 600.
“Conservatively,” Goodwin muses, scratching his chin, “it’ll get 60 miles to the gallon. With 2,000 foot-pounds of torque. You’ll be able to smoke the tires. And it’s going to be superefficient.”
He laughs. “Think about it: a 5,000-pound vehicle that gets 60 miles to the gallon and does zero to 60 in five seconds!”
The whole article is nuts. This guy is using mostly stock parts to make cars that are more powerful, more efficient, and more clean. It is now my dream to get an old-school Land Cruiser converted into a hydrogen-injected, bio-diesel hybrid. With or without a turbine.
(via Kos, via The Sideshow)
Also via Atrios, Ezra writes a very clear distillation of why those poor “liberal hawks” deserve every bit of abuse they get from the dirty fucking hippies on the blogs.
Jay Smooth, of Ill Doctrine and hiphopmusic.com, has a theory about Bill:
It makes me happy when people I know do well for themselves, because it’s important to me that I be able to drop their names in conversation. Melissa Walker has performed admirably in this regard by becoming a published author of young adult fiction. Her first joint, Violet on the Runway, drops today. I urge you to buy multiple copies, because, of course, the more successful she is, the more mileage I get out of saying I know her.
Honestly, though, congratulations to you, Melissa. This is a super-awesome accomplishment.
Oh go fuck yourself, Irwin, if I may enjoy the impertinence of addressing you by your first name.
I will state now for the record my intent to steal that joke and use it as my own.
So I have this friend named Graham.
No no, let me revise: Massachusetts has this friend named Graham.
At your service
Meet Graham Campbell, a top 10 kind of guy
Campbell wanted to be an officer, not a white-shoe lawyer, from the time he was 5. Loved the sirens. At Buckley, voted “Most Likely to be a Civil Servant.” Became a volunteer firefighter at Vassar. Took the police test before his senior year and went to the academy after graduation.
Later, a funny thing happened. Kith and kin decided what he had done was very cool. He became a rock star among friends. He met a terrific group of guys on the force. What mattered to him most was that they not dismiss him as a dilettante. “I wanted them to say, ‘I’ll go through a door for you.’ ” They did.
He and his partner saw a lot. They answered a call from a woman who screamed that her boyfriend had hit her. They found the guy and he admitted he had. Then Campbell noticed a knife sticking out of his back. He had hit her after she had stabbed him.
I, of course, am already composing my rebuttal letter to the editors.
Seriously, a love note across the top of page A3 in the Sunday Globe? I’m cutting it out and putting it on the refrigerator. Way to go, you charming bastard.