Thursday, August 22, 2013

Beatletooth! Beatletooth! Beatletooth!

Lennon used to tip the pizza guy by
spitting in his hand. He was kind of a dick.
You know what's a little kooky? Buying someone's rotten tooth at auction for $30,000. You know what's batshit insane? Planning to use the tooth to grow a clone of John Lennon. Here, let me back up: John Lennon, like all British people, had terrible teeth. But unlike most people, he was a member of the Beatles, so I guess his housekeeper didn't think it was at all weird when he handed her the rotten molar he just had pulled and said: 'here, give this to your daughter.' Gross right?

Well, the housekeeper's daughter, a huge Beatles fan, kept the decayed mass of calcium in the family until 2011 when it sold it at auction for $30,000...of money.
"Going once, going twice...you realize this is a dead man's rotted tooth right?
You do? Alright: sold for $30,000. That figure again, $30,000...for the tooth."

-The Auctioneer, reevaluating his life decisions.
"Check it oot!"
What kind of person spends thirty goddamn thousand dollars on medical waste? Why, a Canadian dentist named Michael Zuk, who collects celebrity teeth. But what makes him different from the rest of us is that while most people would, I don't know, keep the tooth in a box and show it off at parties or something, Zuk has sent it to a lab in the US for gene sequencing. The plan: to bring the late John Lennon back to life, using science.

Above: A typical Canadian
Now, I know what your thinking: 'that's rabid-foam, 'round the bend crazy, even for a Canadian.' And you would be correct (but watch those Canadian cracks, ok?). Here's a quote from his website. Yes, he started a website, check it out, it's a treat.

"Many Beatles fans remember where they were when they heard John Lennon was shot. I hope they also live to hear the day he was given another chance." 
-Michael Zuk, DDS

Think about that next time
you let a dentist put you under.
Zuk claims on his website that the tooth is 'worth 25 Million Dollars or more to the right company' and that if 'Genetics companies miss out on this opportunity, their marketing people should be taken out back and forced to read [Zuk's] book on the absolute power of celebrity.' Um...ok. Oh, so if had any doubt as to Michael Zuk's Omega-level crazy, please listen to his original song: Love Me Tooth. And while you're doing that, keep in mind that as a dentist, Zuk has access to tiny drills and anesthesia. Holy shit.

Sorry to disappoint, but there's more
than a shovel and a cloning machine
between us and a Ramones reunion. 
Ok, look. I don't want to crap on Zuk's totally sound idea, but is he aware that while it may be possible someday to clone a human, said clone isn't really going to be the same person just because they share genes. It's not like John Lennon 2.0 is going to pop out of the vat, fully-grown holding a guitar and strumming Imagine. He'll just be another kid who happens to share John Lennon's DNA. I mean, how many Sean Lennon albums do you own? Here's some more Zuk:

"Many will say the creation of a living clone of John Lennon is immoral or insane, but it can be argued otherwise. JL would have preferred to live a full life and continue his efforts for PEACE." 
-Dr. Michael Zuk,
pointing out that Lennon probably
would have preferred not to get murdered

Immoral or insane? Can't it be both?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Meat Popsicles

What? Don't like being fingerprinted? Well, then you should have thought of that before you decided to live in New York City's swanky public housing.
The en suite yellow circles make random police inspections more convenient than ever!
Help McGruff take a bite out of
crime...also human dignity.

Yeah, fingerprint everyone living in buildings run by the New York City Housing Authority. That's what NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested on his radio show last Friday. According to Bloomberg,

"...5% of (NYC's) population lives in NYCHA housing, 20% of the crime is in NYCHA housing, numbers like that, and we've just got to find ways of bringing crime down there."

-Mayor Bloomberg,
just throwing out some ideas,
some terrible, dystopian ideas

On a related Orwellian note, the city filed an appeal of a Federal Judge's ruling that the NYPD's policy of frisking anyone they deem suspicious (that is, suspiciously not white) was unconstitutional and had to stop. But why was 'stop and frisk' ok in the first place? I mean, did city officials miss that 1984 was a cautionary tale and not, like, a suggestion?
The Mayor also misinterpreted Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451,
with tragic consequences for the New York Public Library.
Did we learn nothing
from Snake Plissken?
Look, I get that people prefer not to get robbed and stabbed, but there's got to be a better, less carpet bomb-y way to deal with it. I think Bloomberg's point is that a disproportionate percentage of crime is being committed in NYCHA housing (although not necessarily by the residents) and that fingerprinting everybody who lives there would help police ensure that they're keeping people who shouldn't be in the buildings out. Ok, so issue key cards or hire a doorman. Why is plan A to turn public housing into a John Carpenter movie?

"Nuke'em from orbit.
It's the only way to be sure."
And if all this crime is being committed in these complexes, then isn't it being committed against NYCHA residents? So this plan would fingerprint not only innocent people, but innocent victims. In fact, if they managed to fingerprint anyone who actually goes on to commit a crime, it wouldn't be because the program was a good idea, it'd be an accident. It's like waiting tables and spitting in all the food on the off chance that one customer turns out to be a shitty tipper.
"Benjamin Franklin once said: 'they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little 
temporary safety, have made a really good deal.' Oh, sorry, my producer is telling 
me that's not the correct quote at all, but...but you get the point...right?"
-Michael Bloomberg,
doing it wrong

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A stunning achievement in the field of sucking

"Wah wah."
-Riker's trombone
As I may have mentioned five or six times before, I didn't really like Star Trek Into Darkness. It's not because it was a bad movie (although it kind of was) it's that it didn't really feel like Star Trek. It was just another brainless summer popcorn movie. But my shrugging dismissal of the film was nothing compared to the scathing condemnation doled out by the Star Trek fans attending the Creation Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas who voted Star Trek Into Darkness #13 on a ranking of Star Trek films. Thirteenth, in a field of 12.

Wa-huh? Yeah, they counted Galaxy Quest, the 1999 Tim Allen comedy which, despite not actually being a Star Trek movie, ranked higher than STID on the list of favorite Star Trek movies. That's like...well, it's like this:
"My favorite child? Moms don't play favorites...but if we did I suppose it would go your older brother,
your sister, your younger brother, your cousin Alex, Dave from next door, then you."
Oh, right, the homemade uniforms.
Even if you take Galaxy Quest out of the picture, the film was still beaten out by the oft-reviled odd-number entries like Star Trek V, the one where the crew blows up God and Star Trek: Insurrection, the one where Worf gets a pimple. Even Nemesis ranked higher and that one was so bad, and did so poorly at the box office that they had to reboot the franchise. But Into Darkness made decent money, and it's got an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. How can it be so well liked by movie goers yet so hated by fans? Like, what makes trekkies different from other people?

Don't say it...don't you fucking
dare shout Kha-damnit Abrams! 
They...ok, we, are kind of obsessed with the source material, so it's important to us that the filmmakers respect it. We're not asking a lot, just that they not go out of their way to piss us off, something director J. J. Abrams seemed to set out to do. For example, you can't rip-off Spock's death scene from the Wrath of Khan, and then expect us not to curse your name for all eternity. I mean, you're practically asking for it.

Whereas a normal person watches Into Darkness, says 'hey that was neat' and moves on with their lives, a trekkie walks away fuming at how the writers and director don't know a goddamn thing about Star Trek. That's the difference.
"I think the fans are really going to enjoy this film because it encapsulates
everything that The Star Tracks is all about: explosions, revenge, gratuitous
shots of Alice Eve in her underwear. I mean, warp me up Scotty!"
-J. J. Abrams,
The guy in charge of Star Trek

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Take that, people with beliefs!

Scienticians now say that there is no afterlife and that if you believe in one you are, statistically speaking, an idiot.
Above: Idiots (source: science).
"Wait, what's...son of a dammit!"
-Everyone who's ever
played Mega Man
According to Jimo Borjigin, the phenomena associated with near-death experiences are just the brain freaking out before a complete systems failure. Sort of like when your NES glitches and goes all janky before freezing right as you're about to beat Dr. Wily in Mega Man, except you can't blow on the cartridge and hit reset. Seeing your dead loved ones, looking down at your body from above, all that's just a hallucination before you blink out of existence. There is, says Borjigin, literally no light at the end of the tunnel.

"Here's to the cold, godless void!"
-Smart, successful people
Bummer, right? But say you're still not convinced that life is a meaningless struggle against the inevitable and that all that comes after is nothing but worms and decay. Miron Zuckerman and a research team from the University of Rochester looked at decades of scientific studies and found a "negative relation between intelligence and religiosity." And it's not just that people with high IQ's are too smart for religion, it's that they are (on average) so much more successful and complete as human beings that they don't need it. 

"Oh yeah? Well you're all going to hell. Ha!"
-Religious communities react
to Zuckerman's study

You know, as an agnosto-secular-Vulcantologist, I don't have any particular faith to destroy, but science can kind of be a dick sometimes. Sure, religion sometimes (ok, often) deserves it, but what's the point of Zuckerman's research? Is he trying to dissuade people from their beliefs? Because calling people stupid is not going to win science any converts, and if he's trying to give atheists something to be smug about, trust me, they don't need any help. Alright, religion isn't very scientific, so what? There's lots of things that people do and feel that aren't scientific or rational.


Take the hew-mon emotion we call love. We put all these cultural constructs like marriage and Valentine's Day around it because A: companies like Hallmark and Godiva enjoy making money, and B: we don't like to think of ourselves as animals acting out an evolutionary imperative to screw and continue the species. 
"We are gathered here today to celebrate Nicole and Steve's fucking arrangement.
While certainly they've fucked before, they will now do so with a different tax status."
"And if you look here, you can see that
everything you believe in is a crock of shit."
-Your research dollars at work
Look, like I'm all for the expansion of human knowledge, and I'm sure Zuckerman's findings are a major contribution to the field of calling people stupid idiots, but do we have to keep presenting science as a club that beats all the joy out of life? Maybe it's just me but the U of R study (or at least the coverage of it) feels like someone trying to pick a fight. It makes me wonder if using research money to try and explain why religion is wrong isn't not only missing the point, but burning valuable resources in the process.

No one's going to win the science vs. religion debate, so shouldn't we be funding research that actually helps people out and you know, cures stuff, like cancer? How's that coming?
"Well the bad news is, you have terminal exploding face cancer.
The good news is that we've discovered that there's no God, so you can spend
your remaining time contemplating the existential horror of non-existence."

Monday, August 12, 2013

From Russia, with Rabid-foam Hatred

Above: Some of the millions of people who are
probably more offended than the President. 

"Nobody's more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that we've been seeing in Russia."

-President Obama on Russia's recent-
wait, did he say some of the legislation?




Settle down everybody, our murderbots will
probably not gain sentience and turn on us.
Look, I like the President. Sure, I think he's wrong on the Snowden thing and all that NSA secret spying crap. Oh, and the unmanned drone thing is getting dangerously close to Terminator territory, but I think he's a good guy who means well when he says Russia's attitude towards gay people sucks. I mean he is the first President to openly support marriage equality (even if it took him awhile) and the repeal of DOMA, so I'm not so sure I understand his stance on this Russia thing. Like, why shouldn't we boycott the games?

They're doing some fucked up shit over there. Like, really fucked up. Russian President Vladimir Putin's new laws criminalize 'propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.' What the shit does that mean? Pretty much whatever Russian officials want, whenever they want.
Putin only approves of traditional sexual relationships. Like the one he's been
having with this gymnast (pictured above) who's half his age. On an unrelated note,
Putin and his wife (not pictured) announced in June that they'd be getting a divorce
How do you say 'wah wah' in French?
This is some McCarthy-level bullshit and I don't think we really need to dismiss the possibility of a Winter Olympic boycott out of hand. Yeah, Russian officials insist that the laws will not affect those participating in or attending the games, they'll still be on the books. Russians can still be fined and punished just for discussing gay rights in public. None of this is ok. They've passed a law levying fines for discussing people's rights in public. We should be out of the Olympics faster than Napoleon in winter (what, too soon?).

I know American athletes have been training for years to participate in the Winter games and it would totally suck if we pulled out, but a boycott isn't just about making sure gay athletes and tourists are safe, it's about making it clear that we don't stand for this shit in the 21st century.
Sorry guys, you'll just have to wait for the 2018
games to play your crazy ice-sweeping game.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Let's Tolerate Lactose!

Oh look, Chick-fil-A, America's favorite purveyor of deep fried chicken miscellany and moral compass, is in the news again! You might remember them as the brave fast food chain who took a stand against marriage equality. Yeah, those guys.
It was a surprisingly judgmental attitude coming from a
company whose President enjoys animal role-play...with his dad. 
What do you mean that's terrible?
Snow leopard cubs have to eat too.
So now who's the focus of Chick-fil-A's righteous indignation? Mammals. Well, specifically Jennifer Day, a mother from Knoxville, Tennessee who was told to leave a Chick-fil-A because she was feeding her five-month old daughter and in doing so was scaring the other patrons' children. Feeding a child in an eating establishment? How dare she. I guess I could understand the problem if she was feeding her child to something, say snow leopards, but no, she was just breastfeeding.

Look, it's not that I'm standing up for children or anything. I actually think it's kind of gross that we let kids into restaurants to begin with, but breastfeeding is not anywhere near the top of the list of reasons why. I mean, kids scream, they throw food and some of them shit themselves, right there at the table and we're all just supposed to be cool with it.
Really, I'm in favor of whatever shuts your kid up. 
Pictured: Jennifer Day, who thinks she's so
 great just because her body produces milk.
Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is a normal thing humans do. It's why women have breasts, and why we men have these weird vestigial nipples. But that didn't stop a Chick-fil-A employee coming up to Day and telling her that her breastfeeding was freaking out other people's kids. And I know I wasn't there, but I don't believe for a minute that the other customers' children were the source of the complaint. That's just bullshit. Kids don't care. This is squeamish, uptight parents projecting their hangups onto others.

Is GTA V also coming out on
breasts? No? I thought not.
Fortunately, the law's on Day's side and women in Tennessee can breastfeed wherever and whenever they need to, and anyone who has a problem with it can shut up and deal. The manager who asked her to leave has since apologized, and has even approached the East Tennessee Breastfeeding Coalition for sensitivity training (which is totally a thing) but Day is taking this opportunity to draw attention to her breasts and what they can do. She had this to say:

"Any mother is allowed to breastfeed her child if she's in that place otherwise. They (breasts) were made for a purpose, a God-given ability. It is the best gift you can give your child."

-Jennifer Day, apparently 
unaware of Xbox

In order to help Chick-fil-A and people in general just get over it, Day staged a Nurse-In (which is exactly what it sounds like), and it looks like it went very well. The restaurant was accommodating, babies got fed, and awareness was raised. I do however take issue with the fact that Chick-fill-A is now where people go to have their voices heard. I mean, Rome had the Forum and we've got goddamn Chick-fil-A?
Before settling on 'Nurse-In,' Day and her fellow protesters
considered 'Mother Suckers' and 'The Breast Friends Club.'*
*I really am sorry about that.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

There's no 'I' in Deathmatch.

Which is to say, all of the salt.
Look, I've never read The Hunger Games, I've never seen the movie and I'll probably never bother with either. I'm content with being the kind of person who judges a book if not by its cover, then by the synopsis on the back, or by word of mouth, or by whether or not it's been turned into a series of movies aimed at tweens. Am I being closed minded? Probably a little, so you're welcome to take my criticisms of the Hunger Games summer camp with the proper amount of salt.

Yeah, The Hunger Games summer camp. Here's the Tampa Bay Times article about it, which, as you can imagine, makes it sound like the terrible idea it is. The camp's organizers however, were unhappy with this characterization of their Summer Murder Camp for Kids and blogged their alliterative outrage. Behold:
It's not so much teamwork as it is pack hunting...
Unthinkable!

Here's a quote from the blog post, imagine it being read in an indignant 'how dare you!' voice:

"County Day School always prioritizes the emotional and physical safety of our students. As we purposefully promote peace and kindness with all of our students, it is unthinkable that County Day School would ever support or encourage violence."

-From the County Day School blog

Um, I'm not sure if 'unthinkable' is quite the word. I mean, The Hunger Games (according to my exhaustive Wikipedia research) is about children fighting to the death in some kind of WB version of The Running Man. So really it's totally thinkable that the school is encouraging violence. Like I said, I've never read the book, but I'm pretty sure that the kids aren't into it for the lesson in teamwork.
Above: A scene from the movie version in which the
characters discuss how to use teamwork to murder their rivals.
On the other hand, the Assassin's Creed
series brings history to life, and then
lets your kids stab it to death...
Look, as a childless shut-in, I have exactly zero stake in this, but I'm really kind of surprised that people aren't more upset. Like, I get carded by Gamestop clerks younger than my Final Fantasy III save because there are people out there who don't understand that Assassin's Creed is probably not appropriate for their nine-year old, yet somehow the County Day School found 26 middle schoolers with parents willing to drop them off at j.v. Thunderdome? I know it's Florida, but still.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Doctor That Guy

Holy shit, a white guy? I know
Peter, we're all shocked.
In a stunning move, the BBC announced yesterday that Scottish actor Peter Capaldi will play the Doctor's next incarnation. This marks the first time since always that the Doctor has been played by a white male. Sigh. Ok, but for real, Capaldi does seem like a smart choice. He's been on Doctor Who and Torchwood before and look at him, he just looks like someone who should play the Doctor, but still, I guess was kind of hoping that the BBC would be a little more creative and maybe cast a woman or a someone who isn't white.

Poppycock, you say? Not at all, it's already been established that Timelords aren't limited to regenerating into someone who looks like them. One of River Song's incarnations was black and while regenerating, the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) briefly thought he might have turned into a girl so as far as the rules of regeneration go, any casting choice is on the table.
Ok, almost any casting choice.
Tobey Maguire played Spider-Man?
Did they even make talkies back then?
The Doctor is now on his 12th and penultimate life, (or possibly not, if this bullshit is to be believed), so if ever there was a time to open up the casting pool, you'd think it would be now. At first glance, Capaldi might seem like an unimaginative choice, but when you think about it, casting a 55-year old to replace a 30-year old is actually taking a pretty big risk. I mean, we live in a world where Tobey Maguire is apparently too elderly to play Spider-Man. In a way, the BBC is almost being kind of edgy...or at least as edgy as you can be casting another white guy.

Above: The Doctor, miniaturized, and
 piloting a full-sized robot that looks exactly
 like him while wearing a cowboy hat. 
It could be that casting an older actor like Capaldi is a sign that the writers are going to take the series in a little more mature direction. Sure, Matt Smith's episodes were great, but let's face it, the show has gotten a little high on its own sense of mad-cap whimsy (see right). It's pure speculation on my part that casting an older Doctor might mean a change in tone for the new series, but I just can't see episodes like Dinosaurs on a Spaceship or that one with the evil snowmen thing working with a grown-up 50-something playing the Doctor.

I suppose in many ways picking a new Doctor has got to be like choosing the new Pope, because no matter who you go with there's always going to be someone who thinks you've missed an opportunity to shake things up. Yeah, I would have loved it if the BBC went with a female Doctor or with Richard Ayoade (Moss from The IT Crowd, sweet mother of Lloth that would have been amazing), but I am cautiously optimistic.
"For all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: It might have been!"

-American Poet John Greenleaf Whittler,
probably talking about how they
didn't cast Moss as the Doctor

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Here, let me save you two hours.

How rich do you have to be for $55 million to be a disappointment? Fox rich I suppose. Apparently the opening weekend for The Wolverine, was kind of short of some people's expectations. According to this guy, we're just sick of superhero movies and I think that's sort of true, or at least we're sick of the in-between superhero movies.
"I predict that The Woverine will make all the money. In the world."
-Allen from accounting, shortly before 
updating his resumé on Linkedin
Ninjas: check and check.
Everyone loves superhero team-up movies which is why The Avengers did so well, but not everyone loves the lead up. Sure, the Iron Man movies were great but does anyone really remember Thor or Captain America: The First Avenger being all that interesting? I sort of felt like that about The Wolverine. I mean it was ok, but not great. It had ninjas in it, and I'm of the generation for whom that's really all you need to do to make us happy so, win, but the rest of it felt unnecessary and kind of forgettable.

Although I did kind of dig the scenes of Logan having Baltar/Six time with the ghost of Jean Grey. Yeah, Jean shows up in The Wolverine even though she went all Dark Phoenix on everybody in X-Men 3 and killed Cyclops and Professor X. If you recall it was up to Wolverine to heroically stab her to death which totally sucked because with Scott out of the way might have had a shot with her (or not, see below).
"Um, listen Logan I don't think this is going to work. I mean, you smell like beer and murder. 
And I really don't understand what's going on with your hair..."
-Jean Grey
All I'm saying is that you can't cure
Dark Phonix with Xanax and counseling.
Anyway, the obsessive nerd in me is holding out hope that this was a set-up for the character to come back to life in next year's Days of Future Past and retcon one of the X-3's biggest blunders: turning the cosmic force of death and rebirth that is The Phoenix into a figment of Jean's crazy. DOFP (acronym!) director Brian Singer has said that he wants to 'fix' some of the things that went oh so terribly wrong with part 3. You know, when I think about it, the only reason to see The Wolverine at all is for the post-credit teaser which links it to the First Class sequel...actually, here, I'll save you the trouble and spoil the hell out of it right now...

The Professor's mutant abilities
include telepathy and tele-retcon-athy.
Still there? Ok, so the scene introduces Trask* Industries, meaning we finally get to see Sentinels in the live-action X-Men universe. I guess the writers of the previous films felt that the 30-foot, flying, purple murderbots were too unrealistic for a movie about mutations that cause super powers instead of extra toes and heart disease. Next, Magneto and Professor X pop up with a dire warning (presumably about the aforementioned murderbots) and yes, Magneto's got his powers back and Professor X, who had exploded in X-Men 3, is apparently feeling much better. Awesome.

So to sum up: The Wolverine is ok, but perfunctory ($.50!), and the best part is after the credits. In just 90 seconds the DOFP teaser gives Mags back his powers, raises Charles from the grave and promises giant goddamn robots. Here Brian Singer, take my 11 dollars and my everlasting love and devotion.
Oh, and did I mention that Peter Dinklage will be playing Bolivar Trask,
the inventor of the Sentinels in Days of Future Past? Well he is, and in
doing so has proved that there is a God and He is a giant nerd.