Why I Hate Almost Everyone (Part 22): Telltale Signs

I’ve had some people ask if there were any telltale signs that tend to tip me off that a person or group of persons would be added to the ever-widening “Why I Hate Almost Everyone” list.

Here is a brief inventory of some clues that would indicate that you’re a likely candidate for addition to The List…

  • If you’ve ever cleaned your ears with car/truck keys;

  • If you’ve ever grinned or giggled during your bail hearing;
  • If you’ve ever said, “I eat lawyers for breakfast!”;
  • If you’ve ever said, “I can buy and sell you!”;
  • If you’ve ever humiliated, insulted or abused your girlfriend/wife in public; [1]
  • If you’ve ever sent food back at a restaurant not because there was anything wrong with it but because you thought it would make you look like a discriminating gourmand;
  • If you put up an impassioned defence of Honey Boo Boo and, when it doesn’t work, accuse the other person of being a snob;

  • If you say you hate Barry Manilow because you think it is expected of you or you feel too embarrassed to tell the truth;
  • If you criticize books or movies on religious grounds without having read or seen them;
  • If you paint all liberals or conservatives with the same brush or if you automatically discount anything someone says merely because they are either liberal or conservative;
  • If you feel election years give you carte blanche to act like a total fucknugget. [2]

  • If you use the expression ‘carte blanche’ without actually knowing what a ‘carte blanche’ was;
  • If you pronounce bagel “baggle”;
  • If you feel natural disasters are caused by homosexuality;

This is what I could come up with off the top of my head this morning.

I have a feeling I will be adding to this list.

As the Ghost of Jacob Marley said, “It is a ponderous chain!”

aa-tribalfang

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[1] This is not to say I don’t also hate those who abuse women in private. But there’s a special seat in Hell reserved for those guys who do this in public. They’ve forfeited their right to be treated like human beings.

[2] I heard Lt. Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) blurt out this delightful expression the other night on Dexter. It is my word of the week!

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Prometheus (Movie Review)

I finally got to watch the movie Prometheus the other night! [1]

I gotta tell you, my little geeks and nerdlings, I was at first very enthusiastic about seeing Prometheus, a kind of ‘prequel’ (but not really [2]) to the Alien franchise of science fiction movies.

(Promethus DVD cover)

And then I started hearing all this loose talk about how Prometheus was a huge disappointment and how, as a result, scores of science fiction geeks and Ridley Scott fans were self-immolating at Comic-Con. OK, on that last part I may be just a bit confused.

But the point is, it dampened my enthusiasm.

So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I slapped the DVD into the old coal-burning computer with the water-cooled monitor to see if my most recent movie purchase was a big waste of money.

(Noomi Rapace as archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw)

OK, here’s the deal (as per the Gospel According to Wikipedia)… In 2089, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map in Scotland that matches others from several unconnected ancient cultures. They interpret this as an invitation from humanity’s forerunners, the “Engineers”. Peter Weyland, the elderly CEO of Weyland Corporation, funds the creation of the scientific vessel Prometheus to follow the map to the distant moon LV-223. The ship’s crew travels in stasis while the android David monitors their voyage. Arriving in 2093, they are informed of their mission to find the Engineers. Mission director Meredith Vickers orders the crew to avoid making contact without her permission.

Needless to say, the crew makes contact without her permission, bringing the ‘Alien’ life form back to the ship.

Mayhem ensues when… various crew members become infected with the Alien life form. Shaw, for example, is pregnant with an alien offspring. Fearing the worst, she uses an automated surgery table to extract and subdue the squid-like fetus.

My two cents… I wouldn’t call Prometheus disappointing but I would call it confusing. There are many important questions in this movie.  Who are the Engineers… the tall humanoid creatures who, presumably, created us in their image and, apparently, invited us to come find them? Their ultimate weapon of mass destruction, the Alien life forms, seems to have been intended for use on us. Why would the Engineers, our ‘creators’, want our destruction? Were we failures? Disappointments? Did they, like G-d in the story of Noah, regret creating us and plan our extermination? None of these questions are answered in the movie. This was a bit annoying for me because the whole point of the Prometheus mission is to find answers… and at the end we have, if anything, more questions.

(Charlize Theron as Prometheus’ mission director Meredith Vickers) 

We also have scientists acting in very silly and unscientific ways. Apparently, when scientists go on a mission to find new life forms, their reaction to finding said life forms is to run away, screaming like little girls. Also, and this is common right across movie genres, when running away from an unstoppable force moving or falling in a straight yet narrow line (a runaway vehicle, a collapsing structure or, in this case, a rolling croissant of a space station), the runners never think of moving to the side and letting the object zip past them. No… they always try to outrun the thing in the very direction in which it is headed. Luckily, Shaw (the runner) falls and realizes that if she only rolls away a few feet to the side, death by enormous intergalactic french pastry is no longer a problem.

Visually, the movie is stunning. The effects are elegant and of the highest quality. It is both spectacular and mesmerizing. The entire visual design is, sorry kids, out of this world.

(Hint: When trying to outrun an enormous rolling space vehicle, get out of its path!)

As for the performances, I liked them a lot. Noomi Rapace as the religious archaeologist turned Alien warrior is both innocent and tough. Michael Fassbender as David, an android that acts as the ship’s butler and maintenance man, is brilliant in his almost Spock-like robotic efficiency. As for Charlize Theron’s performance as Vickers, the Weyland Corporation employee who is sent to monitor the expedition, Theron plays her as such a ‘corporate bad guy’, such a bloodless, emotionless agenda in a suit, I suspect the character is quite literally an android… perhaps a more advanced model than David.

Bottom line… I liked this movie a lot. But… there damn well better be a ‘prequel sequel’ to Prometheus in order to clear up all the stuff raised by this movie!

One and three-quarters android thumbs up!

aa-tribalfang

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[1] Prometheus Movie Blurb (as per official site): A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

[2] Prometheus, a 2012 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, was originally conceived as a prequel to Alien. Development of the film began in the early 2000s as a fifth installment in the Alien franchise. Scott and director James Cameron developed ideas for a story that would serve as a prequel to Alien. By 2003, the development of Alien vs. Predator took precedence, and the prequel project remained dormant until 2009 when Scott again showed interest. Jon Spaihts wrote a script for an Alien prequel, but Scott opted for a different direction. In late 2010, Damon Lindelof joined the project to rewrite Spaihts’s script, and he and Scott developed a story that precedes the events of Alien but is not directly connected to that franchise. According to Scott, although the film shares “strands of Alien‘s DNA, so to speak”, and takes place in the same universe, Prometheus explores its own mythology and ideas.

Women texters use more emoticons! :O

A shocking news story, ripped from today’s headlines! [1]

Women use emoticons more than men in text messaging 🙂

Women are twice as likely as men to use emoticons [2] in text messages [3], according to a new study from Rice University.

The study, “A Longitudinal Study of Emoticon Use in Text Messaging from Smartphones,” used smartphone data from men and women over six months and aggregated 124,000 text messages. The participants were given free iPhones to use for the test period but didn’t know what researchers were investigating.

“We believe that our study represents the first naturalistic and longitudinal study that collects real emoticon use from text messages ‘in the wild,’” said Philip Kortum, assistant professor of psychology at Rice and one of the study’s authors.

The study also confirms previous research that women are more emotionally expressive in nonverbal communication,

Interestingly enough, however, the authors of this research found that while women may use emoticons more often than men, the men used a larger variety of emoticons to express themselves.

In other words, while female texters are ‘quantity emoticon users’, men are ‘quality emoticon users.’

Kortum and his co-authors [4] pointed out that their study is a glimpse into the complex nature of real mediated communications. They said that additional inquiry in real-world settings are needed to understand the complexities of human communications through technology.

aa-tribalfang

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[1] Actually, October 10, 2012… but you get the idea. 😉

[2] Emoticons are graphic symbols that use punctuation marks and letters to represent facial expressions to convey a person’s mood, help provide context to a person’s textual communication and clarify a message that could otherwise possibly be misconstrued. 🙂

[3] Texting has become one of the most popular forms of communication in society worldwide. This year alone, it is estimated that 8 trillion text messages will be tapped out. 😮

[4] The study’s co-authors were Chad Tossell, Clayton Shepard, Ahmad Rahmati and Lin Zhong, all of Rice University, and Laura Barg-Walkow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The study was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and appeared in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. 😐

11 Unbelievable Microscopic Images!!

PopSci.com once again fails to disappoint!

11 Unbelievable Microscopic Images From Nikon’s 2012 Small World Competition

Every year, Nikon’s Small World contest rounds up the best in microscopic images, taken by scientists and artists alike. Here are our 11 favorites from this year.

Ants (Image: Geir Drange, Borgen, Norway. Magnified: 2.5x)

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Woolflower (Image: Christina Zimmerman, Oakland, California. Magnified: 4x)

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Garlic [1]

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Butterfly eggs (Image: David Millard, Austin, Texas. Magnified: 6x)

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House Spider (Image: Harold Taylor, Kensworth, Dunstable, UK. Magnified: 30x)

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Zebra Fish Embryo [2]

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Drosophilia larva gut [3]

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Fruitfly Larva (Image: Dr. Andrew Woolley, Purdue University. West Lafayette, Indiana)

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The Mineral Cacoxenite [4]

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Embryonic Mouse Limb [5]

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Fruit Fly Retina [6]

aa-tribalfang

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[1] Image: Dr. Somayeh Naghiloo, University of Tabriz , Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences. Tabriz, Iran

[2] Image: Dr. Jennifer Peters & Dr. Michael Taylor, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Memphis, Tennessee, Magnified 20x

[3] Image: Jessica Von Stetina, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Magnified: 25x

[4] Image:  Honorio Cócera, University of Valencia. Valencia, Spain. Magnified: 18x

[5] Image: A. Kelsey Lewis, University of Utah, Department of Human Genetics. Salt Lake City, Utah. Magnified: 10x.

[6] Image: Dr. W. Ryan Williamson, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Ashburn, Virginia.

Vampyra: The Winged Vampyre Kitten

A dear friend of mine forwarded me this photograph and I have been completely dippy about it ever since.

(Vampyra, the winged vampyre kitten)

Is this the cutest thing in the world, or what??

I want one so badly, you’ve no idea!

I will call her Vampyra. And she will be mine and she will be my Vampyra!

aa-tribalfang

Dead Man Walking: A Collection of Zombie Makeup Tutorials

This from my dear friend Eve at The Year of Halloween! 🙂

aa-tribalfang

Darlings, in honor of last night’s premier of The Walking Dead, I thought you might enjoy a few tutorials to create your own zombie look this Halloween.

There are a tremendous number of tricks and techniques out there to create zombie effects. While some require serious expertise and equipment, there are many easy techniques for crafting truly spectacular zombie effects at home, with limited investment in special makeup or paraphernalia.

First up, there is a the very common technique of liquid latex, as shown in this tutorial from Malabar LTD.

This tutorial uses a very specific collection of stage makeup brands, but you can create a similar look using comparable costume store or inexpensive drug store products.  In a pinch, you can substitute Elmer’s Glue thinned with a bit of water for the liquid latex.  This oozy pustule below was created with glue, toilet paper, and inexpensive makeup layered over Kellogg’s Corn Pops.

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Were social networks humanity’s edge over Neanderthals?

Were social networks humanity’s edge over Neanderthals?

The following is a brief excerpt from a conversation with  Jean-Jacques Hublin, founder and director of the Department of Human Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. [1]

What do we know about Neanderthal culture around the time they were wiped out? [2]

I must say our understanding of Neanderthal culture remains limited and is mostly connected to the kinds of artifacts they left. I think the culture is similar to the modern humans who lived at the same time period. We don’t see major differences in terms of technical capabilities. Of course we’re always trying to find out why one group replaced the other. And so I think recently most of the discussion has focused on other aspects of cognition that are not directly related to technology. For example, social organization, group networking and things like that. I think this is probably where the differences may lie between modern humans and Neanderthals. We are starting to develop some approaches for that, for example, it’s possible more and more to understand what was the size of a territory for a group of Neanderthals and what kind of exchanges they had between other groups. Now we’re also beginning to understand how individuals moved around during their lifetimes.

(Reconstructed face of a Neanderthal man)

What’s the significance of that?

The picture we have so far is that the Neanderthals are sort of opportunistic, good at hunting middle- to large-sized mammals. They have a territory in which they probably go through a cycle of habitation in different places, basically when one place is exhausted they move to another one. What we don’t see with Neanderthals is long-distance exchanges with other groups. What we see with modern humans in the same area is different. In Germany we find we find shells in some human sites coming from the Mediterranean or from the French Atlantic Coast. It means there was a network of people. So, the question is, what kind of relationship did a Neanderthal have with his brother-in-law? Humans did not just live with their families and their neighbors, but they knew they had a brother-in-law in another village, and that beyond the mountain there is the family of their mother, or uncle, or something like that. There is a large network of groups that, if necessary, could help each other. I think this is where we would like to go to find differences between Neanderthals and modern humans.

aa-tribalfang

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[1] The entire article: Were social networks humanity’s edge over Neandertals? [2]

[2] Please note that both in the title and throughout the body of the article, the alternative spelling ‘Neandertal’ is used. I have altered the spelling to the more traditional ‘Neanderthal’ for the purposes of this piece.