Friday, November 26, 2010


Sweet! The Cassini Space Probe found oxygen on the Saturnalian...Saturnish...on one of Saturn's moons called Rhea. According to this article (from a British news site, so read it with an accent!), this is the first time oxygen has been directly detected which is a big deal apparently. I guess before this astronomers were just looking up and going: "Uhh...I don't know...argon?" But now thanks to the 3.26 billion dollar Cassini probe, NASA just licked a moon-and it tasted like oxygen.

Captain, I find this
implausible...even for us.

What's even more sciency is that it also tasted like carbon dioxide which can maybe possibly indicate the not completely out of the question possibility that there may be some sort of life-ish stuff. Not awesome life like a civilization of Wookies or Greek gods, but maybe bacteria or some kind of space algae. That would be something, the kind of something that would bring a certain underfunded space program some much needed space bucks.

Without bacteria, Jamie Lee Curtis
would have exploded years ago.
I know what you're thinking: "Big deal. We have bacteria here on Earth." It's true, we do. Why it's everywhere, killing people with infections and fermenting our many yogurts. What do we need with extraterrestrial bacteria? Well, the obvious answer is space yogurt (actually a thing!), but confirmation of life on some other planet/moon/asteroid/ringworld would be like the biggest thing ever. It would effect us all in ways we can only begin to imagine. Sure, today it's oxygen, tomorrow it's aliens. We're getting closer people, I can feel it. In preparation of first contact, I make the following predictions:

Breaking News: The Pope announced
today that he is, in fact, Catholic.
1-Panic, confusion and mass hysteria! Ok, it probably won't be that bad, but remember the time it was 'revealed' that some pro baseball players were using steroids (gasp!) and the 'news' was so shocking we had to have congressional hearings about it? Like, for days? I think it'll be like that. On some level I think we all accept that the universe is simply too big and too old to only have one planet that supports life. It's just common sense. But when we finally find proof, we're all going to need a few weeks to freak out about it.

"You'll never get you hands on our...
trees? Psychic pony tails?
What is it you're after again?"

2-World peace! If we learned that we were but one voice in an infinite choir of intelligent beings across the universe, we might finally learn to put aside our differences and learn to live in harmony. Of course, as soon as the kumbayas are out of the way I suspect we'll be invading a planet full of naked blue space elves in order to get our greedy hands on their rich deposits of gimmickonium. On the plus side we'll be strip-mining their planet as a united people. So there's that.

I don't care what planet you're from,
family photos are always lame.

3-Acceptance. Eventually the novelty will wear off, Progresso will start making extra chunky Plomeek soup, and everyone will eye with suspicion the Tenctonese family that just moved in next door. Not because they're aliens, but because they drive a Prius. What, do they think they're better than us or something?

"No, actually, it's not cool.
You guys are dicks."
Unfortunately for us nerds, all the alien-centered sci-fi we know and love will suddenly be rendered obsolete. It might someday seem like all the time we spent pondering hypothetical match ups between the Borg and the Replicators was in fact, wasted. Worse still is the possibility that our naive portrayals of aliens beings might actually offend the genuine article. I mean, imagine watching TV with your Insectoid Alien pal when suddenly Starship Troopers comes on. Awkward, right?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Update! Mouse: 1 Me: 0

"Go forth my minions, bring
unto me meat that I might feed."
Well played MurderMouse, well played. This morning the trap I'd set (both humane and rented) was unsprung and empty...almost empty that is. In his campaign of torment, my unwelcome guest has enlisted the aid of my old nemeses, the ants. I found the bait engulfed by the Ant Queen's thralls who, unhindered by the wire frame and too light to spring the door mechanism passed freely in to and out of the trap carrying fifty times their own weight in booty back to the Underdark from whence they came. There, in the everlasting night between drywall and insulation, they exchange meat for the protection of the great and terrible MurderMouse Mansbane, Lord of The Basement Apartment, Defiler of the Cupboard and Scourge of Surface Realm. These are black days indeed.

I find myself faced with the very real possibility that there may be no defense against this unholy alliance of rodent and insect. It's sort of like the time Lore teamed up with the Borg, but with less spandex. Between the rodent's cunning and the ant's sheer numbers I may simply be overmatched. Guess it's time to find a new apartment.
If you're getting this reference,
add a +1 modifier to your nerd role. 

Friday, November 19, 2010


Germs? Nah, you just made God angry.
Way to go kid.

There's a mouse in my apartment. In our modern age of computers and Ladies Gaga, I find myself sharing my living space with a common disease carrying rodent. What is this, medieval France? I'll tell you, it's not. Although that would be kind of rad. If for no other reason than I could invent penicillin or something and make a fortune selling it to plague victims. Losers...

Be kind to animals or this thing eats you,
or something. I don't know how it works.

Anyway, back to the mouse. I spotted it late last night and spent an hour chasing it around in the vain hope that I could catch it. I couldn't. I know what you're thinking: "Why not just kill it?" I'm right aren't I? That's what you are thinking right now. Wow, what kind of person are you? Is murder your answer for everything? Look, I don't like killing things just on the off chance that Buddism, Hinduism and Shirley MacLaine are on to something. Scoff all you like, but if you end up as a silverfish in the next life, you're going to wish you lived in my house. So yeah, I opt for a catch and release program. I've successfully evicted dozens of spiders, mosquitos and even two bats.

That's right, two bats. The last one I actually grabbed with my hand while it was sleeping and tossed it outside. That's right, I'm the goddamned Batman.


What I'm up against.


Why then, have I been foiled by this flightless flying rat? The best I could manage was to corner it in my bedroom and close the door. That's right: I gave the mouse my room and slept on the couch. Like it was a house guest. But in my defense, this is no ordinary mouse (yes it is). It moves with ridiculous speed and is possibly equipped with a cloaking device. I have given it a name and it is MurderMouse.®

Also, I don't have a forklift suit.
So much for plan B.
Of course, like any rational person in this situation, I ask myself one simple question: What would Ellen Ripley do? Blow it out an air lock. It worked in (Spoilers!) Alien, Aliens, Alien Resurrection and will likely occur in the upcoming Alien V: Electric Boogaloo (not a real thing). But unluckily for me and luckily for MurderMouse®, only a cool November drizzle lay outside my door and not the cold hard vacuum of space.

Ever played this?
It might be kinder to simply
poison the mouse...

I am left with but one option: a mouse trap. Don't worry friends of animals, I rented a humane (or mousane?) one from the pet store down the street (it's apparently a thing you can do), and stocked it with roast beef (sorry afore mentioned friends of animals). According to the girl behind the counter, mice don't actually like cheese. Cartoons, in this respect, have lied to us all. Anyway, I'll have more on this story as it develops...assuming I win. If the mouse wins, I can only hope it will continue posting updates.

p.s. To my roommate Maura, who is conveniently out of town as this epic battle of wills goes down: Hey, we've got a mouse!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let's declare war on Space!

NASA recently discovered cracks in the foam covering the external fuel tank of the Space Shuttle Discovery thus delaying the shuttle's final's mission to deliver spare parts (important spare parts, according to NASA's website) to the International Space Station. Yup, that's the final mission for our 1.7 billion dollar shuttles, boldly delivering parts. Take that, nerdy hopes and dreams! The space program has become a glorified Radio Shack that delivers. Why? Lack of interest.

"Did someone order a ham radio
and some 'D' batteries?"

It's no wonder the program is underfunded. Maybe if the Discovery were delivering something the ISS crew actually wanted like Tang or space porn we might care. Remember Armageddon? (No? Good, it sucked.) The space shuttle in that movie went on a mission to nuke an asteroid heading towards the Earth. Does anybody really think Steven Tyler could squeeze a power ballad out of Spare Parts Run '10?

*all figures invented by me.
What? At least I'm up front about it.

I don't pretend to understand the Federal Budget (well I do, but really I don't), but depending on the pie chart, we spend 1 Kagillion more dollars on the military than we do on NASA. I'm not saying that national defense isn't important, I'm just saying that we could spend a little more on science and a little less coming up with new and interesting ways of blowing people up.

Look, bottom line: underfunding NASA is a bad idea for a number of reasons and that number is basically three. Here they are:

I like to live dangerously.
1) I used to drive a 1989 Carolla with 150,000 miles on it. One day, while driving, it just stopped. The Space Shuttle Discovery is an '84 with 142 million miles on the clock, cracked foam on the fuel tanks and was built by the lowest bidder. If it stops working there's a good chance it could do so at 22 thousand miles above the Earth. I can not imagine the epically huge Spaceballs it must take to ride something like that into orbit.

The moon? Don't we own and
play golf on that?
2) A couple of months ago, China's space agency launched another lunar probe as part of a program that will eventually lead to manned missions. Remember when we used to do cool stuff like this? No, of course you don't. Hell, your parents probably have only a hazy memory of the ' small step for man...' speech. Now the only time the space program gets mentioned is when something has gone terribly wrong. We are in grave danger of loosing the only thing we got out of the Cold War: bragging rights. Well, bragging rights and Tetris.

Ironic, isn't it?

3) Let's face it, we are going to be woefully unprepared when the aliens show up. Woefully. Our state of the art satellites allow our iPhones to tell us where we are in relation to the nearest Starbucks. Aliens have mastered interstellar travel (but not the emotion we humans call 'love'). We will be like insects compared to them. For real everybody, we have got to get on this space thing, if for no other reason than to avoid embarrassment.

Oh, he's so got it coming...
What can we do you say? Shut up, I'm getting there. I say we declare War on Space. It's the perfect way to get the funding and political will we need to get us back on top of the space exploration heap. We love declaring war on things like drug use and terror, and they're abstract concepts. So why not space? It has the advantage of being a real thing, and let's be honest, we've gone to war on flimsier pretexts. Instead of sending probes to sniff Martian rocks, let's send an invasion force. Instead of the Space Shuttle Discovery, let's send the Earth Star Cruiser Revengance on a mission of conquest. Our brave space-troops (or "Sproops" as I propose we call them) will crush any and all resistance as they plant the Earth flag on the surface of Mars. Science: Accomplished!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Let's do the time warp...again...

We may never know what a pelvic
thrust has to do with temporal
Tonight is the night when the Earth experiences the temporal anomaly known as the end of Daylight Savings Time. I'm no syentist,* but my understanding is this: At 2:00 am on Sunday the 7th, we're all supposed to set our timepieces back an hour...or at least we would if this weren't 2010 and people actually still owned timepieces. Instead, we'll just let Skynet alter our perception of time and enjoy an extra hour of open bars while our cell phones and ipads assure us that 1 o'clock is supposed to follow 2. That is of course unless you live in Arizona where much of the state doesn't believe in DST...losers.

Way to go, jackass,
now we all gotta learn German.
So, anyway in a very real, very lame sense, tonight the Earth itself becomes a time machine and we are all time travelers (albeit, lame ones). Tonight is the night we all embark on a voyage through time, putting things right which once went wrong and hoping each time that the next leap will be the leap home...Which reminds me, when reliving the 1 o'clock to 2 o'clock hour please don't do anything to alter the timeline. If movies and TV have taught us anything, it's that even the most well-intentioned time-travelers invariably cause the Nazis to win the war.

In honor of tonight's hiccup in space/time, here (for some reason) is a list of some of my all time favorite time machines:

If only they'd left Keanu
behind in Napoleonic France...

3) Bill and Ted's Phone Booth. For many practical reasons this is the stupidest way to travel through time. It's bulky, prone to break down and difficult to hide. I mean how are you going to explain a 20th century phone booth in the middle of the street during the Defenestrations of Prague (What? With a name like that you wouldn't go see it?). On the other hand, it belongs to George Carlin and can be repaired using pudding cups and gum.

Imagine showing up to the signing of the
Declaration of Independence in one of these.

2) The Klingon Bird of Prey from Star Trek IV. Yes, technically the Bird of Prey (or BoP) isn't designed as a time machine, and yes, on Star Trek any malfunctioning piece of technology can accidentally create a time hole. But the BoP is by far the most bad-ass time looking time machine ever. Ever. It's basically a giant metal space bird that spits photon torpedos and can be retrofitted to carry whales through time.

"Really Doctor? Anywhere in
time or space and you take
 me to a quarry?"

1) The TARDIS. Despite having a name that sounds like something 10 year olds call each other, the Doctor's time machine is also a psychic spaceship/universal translator that's impervious to virtually all known weapons and Mongolians. And thanks to Doctor Who being a bit more Fy than Sy,* it's somehow bigger on the inside, containing two control rooms, a library, a swimming pool, a multi-storey wardrobe and presumably a Pinkberry.

Honorable mention:

While not really a time machine, Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day ends up in a time loop simply by being a prick. The exact cause of time travel is never fully explained in the film, but I have a theory: You see, wanton douchebaggery causes a build up of tachyon particles which can cause one to become unstuck in linear time. The only way to counter act the effects is to become a better person and then sleep with Andie MacDowell. It has something to do physics I guess...

*TM 2009 SyFy Channel

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's Guy Fawkes Night!

"Ello 'ello, what's all this then?"
Yeah, I'm not quite sure about the all the details but I am pretty sure this 'holiday' is further evidence that the UK is seriously deranged. Guy Fawkes Night is the British holiday celebrating the failed attempt by a bunch of English Catholics (including Guy Fawkes) to assassinate King James the I of England and VI of Scotland (he was like a double king). The assassins weren't just going for your typical everyday regicide, these blokes were going to blow up the King, the House of Lords and like six city blocks. The attempt was foiled when Fawkes was discovered guarding the cache of explosives under the Parliament building.

"It burns, it burns!
Please let me die..."

Ok, so great. Assassination foiled, let's celebrate. Wrong. So after torturing a confession out of Fawkes, he and his fellow conspirators were hanged drawn and quartered. Gross. Not content with leaving it at that, it then became a tradition to make effigies of Fawkes (called Guys, which is where we get the word 'guy' meaning some dude) and burn them in the streets. It's sort of like an Easter egg hunt, but instead of looking for plastic eggs filled with candy, the kids pretend they're roasting an enemy of the crown to death. Right then, good clean fun, that is! Sorry Britain, but you can't blame all your weirdness on ergot poisoning.

I know we've got some screwed up history in America, but man, British people love their public executions. Just watch any episode of the Tudors. When they're not doin' it, they're beheading someone in front of a jeering crowd of be-snaggletoothed (it's a word I just made up...) peasants. It's like Texas with pantaloons. So uh...anyway, happy Guy Fawkes Night...sickos.
-and one of history's most bewildering
casting decisions.
Henry the VIII of England, one of
history's fattest kings- 

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Election Day! Everybody write in 'Yo Mama.'

Always vote the opposite of
the guy in the Tricorn Hat. 
Go vote, like seriously. Staying home is not going to punish anyone but everyone (including yourself). I'll try not to get super political on you here (yeah, you may want to stop reading here), but I would like to point out that the same guys who broke the economy in the first place are now predicting huge gains based largely on American dissatisfaction with the economy (yes, I know it's more complicated than that). This, to me, is insane. It's like, well it's like this hastily created comic:

So for real, stop whining and go vote. It can and will get worse if you don't (and probably will anyway).  Besides, voting lets you feel superior to people who didn't vote. And who doesn't like a good smugging? Wear that stupid 'I Voted' sticker with insufferable pride, it actually does make you a better person. Oh, and one more thing: if you're still on the fence remember: there used to be 9 planets in our solar system. Nine. Then the Republicans were in charge and now there are 8. Think about that when you go to the polls tomorrow...

Never forget.