Friday, December 31, 2004

SO I'M WATCHING ANDERSON COOPER: And he's generally done a fine job with tsunami coverage, as has CNN in general, as you would expect they would do with a story with limited partisan angles--Fox's eyes have already glazed over, and MSNBC has to run their endless Abrams/Olbermann/Matthews block. But he's brought on poor Anna Kjellander's mother for the second night in a row and getting her talk about--in a completely restrained way, I grant you--how hard it is to leave whatever island she was without her daughter. Look--it just seems in poor taste to focus on the plight of one lost cute little girl when I can't believe she's the only lost cute little girl here--not even the only lost little white girl, which means I don't think they're playing a racial angle here either. I'm not sure how they picked Anna Kjellander out of what must be thousands of other similar stories. It's weird.

They're bringing out Jack Hanna next to talk about whether the animals knew something was coming and fled. Jack Hanna is by himself goofy, of course, but the animal angle is worth pursuing. Something about low-frequency waves, I've heard.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

TSUNAMI RELIEF: I gave 25 bucks on Amazon. I know there's always a debate about how much the money really helps and who it goes to and blah blah blah--but I trust Jeff Bezos implicitly. They're over $3.6 million right now.

There's a couple of necessarily less important stories right now--election shenanigans in Ukraine and Washington state, both involving people who refuse to admit they lost. I think Dino Rossi got his revote idea from Yuschenko actually, but he's probably got a lot less of a legit claim to run a revote.

Hey, all I got.

Monday, December 27, 2004


New slippers
New brown shoes
New black shoes
The DC Comics Encyclopedia....and here we go to the opposite pole from functional. It's a book of all the weird and fascinating beings who inhabit a fictional universe--it's the very opposite of Something I Needed. But it's really great and I have of course been reading it for the past day or so. It's very much in the spirit of the old Who's Whos, attempting to capture the breadth of the DC Universe at that moment. Who's Who was the sum of the information of the pre-Crisis DCU; this new book is everything from the twenty years since. I can quibble with a few things--there seems to be a mania to stick every Golden Age here DC every had in there without a similar mania for including later eras; no Psycho Pirate or Lady Quark--but overall it's really fun. I loved the old Who's Whos as a youth; they made me there was a real richness to DC Comics which published Western heroes and alternate versions of the same heroes and war comics and the Marvel Family and Captain Carrot and they all existed in this huge fictional tapestry. Now I think the current streamlined, hypertimed DCU which is the Encyclopedia's territory is somewhat less fun than the brazenly self-contradictory DC multiverse. So the Encyclopedia only suffers in comparison to Who's Who because its subject matter is a bit less fascinating. But as a snapshot of a fictional universe (the last of the pre-Identity Crisis DCU, though what DC thinks IC changed I haven't a clue), even a grimmer and grittier one, the Encyclopedia does an excellent job.

I could do without the Alex Ross cover, though. Whoever I read recently that said Ross makes every character he paints into a pasty white guy has a point.

Friday, December 24, 2004

THE REAL QUESTION FOR TONIGHT: So does Santa actually slow down time itself, or does he exist in some weird quantum probability state which allows him to appear in millions of places at once, and from which he integrates himself into one coherent person at the end of the evening?

My brother maintains it's the former; I'm sure it's the latter. I mean, slowing down time? That's ridiculous.

The scary old school Alastair Sim version of "A Christmas Carol" is now public television now. Have a good Christmas.
WAITING: For my grades to come in so I can do some kind of end-of-semester rundown post. Plus I'm not feeling very wordy lately.

Enjoy the holidays, oh ye Limited Readership.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

LISTENING TO NPR ON THE WAY HOME: They had this thing on about "orphan trains" from the turn of the previous century where thousands of orphans from the Northeast (New York, Philly and Boston were mentioned) were shipped out west to be adopted by farmers, or essentially forced into servitude by farmers depending on their luck. It just made me think of--you know--widespread human misery in living memory in this country, which we've been able to escape for decades now. Nothing more than that.

Anyway. Finals coming up:

Microbiology, Thursday the 16th: The one I'm least worried out because I'm pretty sure I'm entrenched in the A column.

Histology, Friday the 17th: The curve-based class where the class size is five people. I blew away the field on the first test but was mediocre on the second. I won't get below a B, but the A is the thing. That's true for this class and the next two.

Biochemistry, Monday the 20th: Iffy, iffy class. I have a 93 but you need a 95 to skip the final and not drop a half letter grade (in other words, if I tell my teacher I'm skipping the final I get a B+, no questions asked.) Part of me wants to take the B+ and focus on the next class; the other part thinks an A is doable, but dividing my studying time may kill my chances for an A in.....

Genetics, Tuesday the 21st: This could go anywhere, but like I said the chances of going below a B are minimal but certainly possible. I kind of think my chances are better at getting the Biochem A so I might just focus on that.

There you are. Spoil your Identity Crisis #7 reading here. Let me spoil it for you too: Apparently somebody at DC thinks it's real clever for one Silver Age superhero wife to kill another.

Monday, December 13, 2004

HOURS OF COMICS-RELATED TIME-WASTING AVAILABLE TO YOU: If you click here. It's the Don Markstein's Toonopedia and it comes up when you look for Golden Age superheroes sometimes, like today when I was looking for Seven Soldiers stuff. Though I never bothered to delve that far into it before--but today I was studying so time-wasting was called for. It's reasonably complete; the fun is following the links from one character to the next.

The word "though" is constantly spelled "tho" though--and I agree those last three letters are unnecessary, but "though" is the consensus spelling. Anyway, good times.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED: DARK HEART: The Warren Ellis episode. This post adapted from comments made by me here. Yes, I'm recycling DVDVR messageboard content on my blog.

This episode erred on the side of waaaaaay too many guest stars with little for most of them to do--though I'm sure our collective geek erectile tissue become blood-gorged when Shining Knight rescued Vigilante. (His motorcycle WHINNIED LIKE A HORSE. I swear that happened.) At least in the Amazo attacks episode everybody got a little bit. Sticking that many people out there leads to hopelessly niggling but valid questions like: why didn't Dr. Fate just stuff the whole thing in his ankh? Why did Bats ice the aliens when Ice was right there? Why do superhero bullets work but not soldier bullets? Etc.

So, I mean, it was good but not necessarily compelling like some of the episodes have been--I'm thinking of the Wonderpig, Amazo Attacks and Booster episodes in particular. The Booster episode also had a logjam of guest stars but it didn't detract from the story the way this whole superhero army did in Dark Heart. There the focus was on Booster and he was removed from the fight and saving the world in his own unique fashion. This episode was just one big battle, which it makes it more like the Amazo episode which also had a bunch of guest stars but at least that episode gave everybody a little something to do. People had neat bits in this episode too (like the Vigilante/Shining Knight Seven Soldiers of Victory reference above) but they were really compressed bits. This episode needed a bit of focus, is what I guess I am saying.

Where is Flash, by the way? Either they're planning something for him or the voice actor quit. There's no other reason to keep leaving him out.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

THE MR. FREEZE EPISODE OF THAT "THE BATMAN" CARTOON WAS ON THIS MORNING: Okay--I know this is the Time-Warner hivemind's attempt to introduce the character to a new generation of kiddies, and sell more playsets and party hats and remind everyone that Batman is still this big big property. So any entertainment value of "The Batman" is purely coincidental--I understand that too. So given why this cartoon exists I know it's unfair to compare to "Batman: The Animated Series," which is both widely considered to be one of the best American cartoons and was a necessary clearing-away of 20-plus years of the "Robin, old chum" version being the dominant image of the animated Batman. But Mr. Freeze was the signature villain of "Batman: TAS"--he wasn't that villainous, actually; he was this normal guy whose powers had robbed of his humanity, which he tried to recapture via doomed attempts to bring his wife Nora back to life. Nora, who had been frozen in this moment of perfect youth and beauty, and Freeze would look at her and think "Someday--someday things will be right again" and never maybe really believe it himself but know at the same time it was all he had to go on.

See? That's interesting. "The Batman" version of Mr. Freeze is a bank robber with ice powers. Given that the new series is just supposed to be a simple entertainment, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. And "The Batman" is telling neat little Batman stories--I can't believe I missed the Cluemaster episode; they brought back a friggin' Injustice League/Justice League of Antarctica member as a major Batman rogue?--and the action's pretty good, and Bruce has the Star Trek diversity thing with the black detective and the Ming-Na Wen detective supporting cast. And Alfred's a foreigner too, of course. But it really suffers in comparison with "Batman: TAS" but then most cartoons do.

Friday, December 10, 2004

HAPPINESS IS: When your biochem professor e-mails you to ask if he can use your project in the future as "an example." A good example, of what to do. Not the what not to do kind.

You consider writing back with some crack like "Okay, but I want residuals and 25%" but realize that you're not at all sure what your professor's humor levels are so you leave it at that.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

YOU KNOW: I intend this is as value-neutral fashion as possible--but we do live in a country where musician, porn producer and all-around self-promoter Snoop Dogg is mainstream enough to hawk mobile phones.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

INTERESTING STUFF FROM WILBON: On the whole Barry Bonds thing:

But what intrigues me now is the lack of public outrage regarding all of this. Okay, I've come to presume the Olympic sports, particularly the summer sports, are full of cheaters, from East German swimmers to weightlifters from virtually everywhere to Ben Johnson. Fair or not, I expect cheating from Olympians. Having covered six Summer Games, I'm constantly fretting there will be a drug scandal either on deadline or in the middle of the night. But one might expect more of an outcry over muscled up baseball player, fraudulently inflating home run and power statistics.

Baseball is every day and right where we live, not every four years and halfway around the world. Yet, I'm looking at e-mail after e-mail expressing emotions that overwhelmingly range more from sadness to indifference. Yes, Bonds (and Giambi, if he has a career left) will be booed on the road. But will Bonds be a pariah? I doubt it. Editorial condemnation doesn't seem to be reflective of what fans feel about the stars they pay to see. For every e-mail expressing true outrage (usually from folks who feel they are keepers of the game), there are five from fans who either still don't know exactly what to feel or are more hurt or annoyed than angry.

People in and around Washington were much more exercised on the issue of benching Mark Brunell a couple of weeks ago than they are over the news or the implication that Giambi, Bonds and Jones have all cheated their sports and lied about it, which leads me to wonder how big a scandal this is, if the people consuming the product are either so cynical already or so uninterested that by spring they will be diving into McCovey Cove to retrieve whatever Bonds can crank.

Via the Frog. I thought it was just me who thought it was the media stirring up the outrage over this--or just me who wasn't that exorcised over Bonds admitting what we had mostly known for years. Hey--maybe that explains the lack of outrage on the public's part; this story has been simmering for a while now, first of all--the Balco thing broke many months ago, right? The public has had time to judge for themselves, and probably decided that he was guilty somewhere in that time. So the outrage has been diffuse. Or else people just assume cheating happens in baseball since it always has. Or it's just part of baseball's general decline in the American consciousness. People had a lot more opinions about the Pacers-Pistons brawl, I think.

Anyway. At least Ichiro's hit record stands without asterisk.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

OKAY. SO I DIDN'T COMPLETELY GAG: The interview went about as well as it could considering my ambivalence about medical school, and how weird it is to be applying for something as potentially all-consuming as medicine without being completely sure you want to do it, and how I have neither the ability nor the inclination to disguise my ambivalence. Aside from that, it went fine. I used complete sentences. I made eye contact. I removed excess nose hairs before the interview started.

The flaw with my application is this ambivalence. If not for that, I think I'd be all set with getting into one of my local state-supported medical colleges. If not for not really wanting to go, I'd have really a good shot at getting in. Or something.

The guy who interviewed me passed me on to the director of admissions, who seemed less concerned with my wishy-washiness so that may bode well. It would suck to get rejected. To get accepted would force me to make An Actual Decision--and that's not high on my fun-list either.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

FIRST MED SCHOOL INTERVIEW TOMORROW: And I'm pretty sure I'm going to gag because I haven't prepared in the least. Too many end of semester issues right now. Plus I'm working a jillion hours this week to get caught up enough so I can take a few weeks off for finals. PLUS the cruddy protein-modeling assignment that's due a week from now that I barely understand.

Well, whatever. If I gag, I gag. At least I won't suffer from being overnervous about it--I haven't had the mental resources to spare to get nervous.

Anybody know anything about Swiss Model? It is vexing me right now.
THE LATEST ADOPTION STUDY DUSTUP: Follow the debate here, here, here, and of course here. The debate is mostly over this graph:

Which shows an incredible lack of correlation between the incomes of Korean children randomly assigned to American adoptive families in the 70s and the incomes of those families' biological children. The difference between the two is interpreted to mean that parents pass their ability to make money to their children via their genes.

Now I have no problem believing that, but find the paper itself a bit goofy. Or at least the graph. Partly because it compares the adopted kids--who are mostly female, and about 28--with the biological kids of all ages. But mainly because that line is so flat and it seems impossible that high parental income on its own has no effect on children's income whatsoever. Then again, all the expensive crap that people buy for their kids is as much for the parents' peace of mind as the children's, so I guess it's possible all the Mozart in the womb and Montessori schools don't add up to anything.

Anyway--it's a neat debate. The guy who wrote the paper also noted that smoking and drinking are passed on to adopted and biological kids in similar numbers--suggesting they are not genetically inherited behaviors--so yay for Big Liquor and Big Tobacco one more time.

Monday, November 29, 2004

ON THE FURTHER PAUCITY OF IDEAS OF BUDWEISER CREATIVE: So we've all seen the Miller Light ads with the referees throwing flags at people for drinking crappy beer and other social faux pas. The first ad of this type--I think--is the guy and the girl on the beach. The guy initially gets flagged for drinking sub-par beer. Then the ref has to move in for "further review" because the girl is so much hotter than the guy and the infraction is "disproportionately hot girlfriend" or somesuch. The ending is perfect: the girl is suddenly fascinated by the ref's whistle; she blows it; the girl and the ref start giggling; as the commerical ends the guy chimes in with an incredibly fake laugh. It's a cute idea executed well.

There are more ads of this type but you get the drift. One is at a campfire and the guy gets flagged for guitar-playing hippie lameness--"tent invitation DECLINED." One (possibly the most recent) has a hapless Bud delivery guy screeching petulantly, "You can't flag the King!" Which may have touched off the latest round of retaliatory Bud ads.

You see--the retaliatory Buds ads star the Miller Light refs. Except--and you'll NEVER see this coming--the refs are just out to steal Bud Light! That's so classic. When the Miller Light refs are flagging people and taking away their Bud Light, the refs just want the Bud Light, is what Bud wants you to believe.

The lack of ideas on Bud's part is obvious: beaten to the punch yet again by Miller Creative, they resort to these rebuttal ads, like they did with the President of Beers campaign. Without funny animals to sell beer, Bud Creative is completely lost. What's that Lee Atwater-Karl Rove thing? If you're playing defense, you're losing? Bud is clealy losing.

Now--again--the difference between the Bud and Miller products isn't a substantial difference like that between--say--Coke and Pepsi. It's more like the difference between the urine samples of monozygotic twins: both are awful but not readily distinguishable from each other. You just have these two really old brands with large amounts of advertising dollars behind them.

I still haven't been able to see in their entirety the new Miller ads with the people lined up at Bud headquarters addressing the building with megaphones. But Miller has clearly moved on, at least, and Bud is still playing defense. So Advantage: Miller. Still.
OAKLAND 25, DENVER 24: A completely great snow game on ESPN tonight, by the way. When Elam was lining up I at first thought, "That's it--Denver wins." But when I saw the Raiders line Sapp up there and these other giant guys and the way they were stacked there I thought, "There's an excellent chance the Raiders will block this." And they did. Snow games are so great. A further pox on the BCS for not having any games in snow-possible environments.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


1. Not wearing shoes.

2. Not wearing pants. I haven't actually done this, but it is within the realm of possiblity.

3. Having out the little black and white teevee in the background and not worrying about anybody giving me shit about it.

4. Copying materials not directly related to work. Let me rephrase that: that's something I could do--but it would be wrong.

5. Peeing with the door open. I don't even do that at home.

6. Making a whole pot of coffee and only having a few cups. Plus--free cream and sugar.

7. Not having to sneak the occasional nose pick. I'M OUT THERE, JERRY, AND LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT!

8. Reading comics on the can. Sure, I can do that at home--but what grown person reads comics on the can at work?

9. Throwing all my trash on the floor. (I pick it up before I leave.)

10. Scaring the crap out of myself at 10:15 at night and half the office is dark and I swear I heard the office door open and there's footsteps down the hall and I ignore it at first but then I have to get up and look and--and there's nobody there. Just the office humming, keeping me at a comfortable room temperature.

There. I apologize that two of the items were bathroom-related.

Friday, November 26, 2004

BY THE WAY: American press coverage of the goings-on in Ukraine--where an actual revolution appears to be breaking out--has been absolutely awful.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

ON BALANCE, AN EXCELLENT THANKSGIVING: This was the first Thanksgiving my mom had to have at her house and it went off really well. 14 guests. Tons of appetizers--my theory was to err on the side of excess, which is appropriate for the holiday. My dad made four kinds of stuffing: the usual kind that stuffs the bird with chicken parts mixed in, one with bits of oyster, one with mushrooms, and one with peppers. There were three kinds of cranberry dishes: the canned kind, the kind of uncle makes with actual cranberries, and a choice bit of Midwestern cuisine my grandma made that was Jello-based. Three kinds of potatoes: mashed, sweet, and these sort of pureed yams, which I think is in the tuber family. Multiple vegetables. I had some of everything, as is the goal I set for myself every year. Other random notes:

--Two awful NFL games, with Indy just hopelessly outclassing Detroit and the Bears and Cowboys playing the football version of a Coleman Francis movie for three quarters before Dallas decided they didn't want to lose.

--The suspension-limited Pacers won again, against the Wolves. And I had no idea this happened:

Michael Olowakandi was suspended for the game by the team after being arrested at an Indianapolis nightclub early Thursday morning.

Police used a stun gun to subdue the 7-0 center after he would not leave the club. He spent the night in jail and was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, both misdemeanors."We are extremely disappointed in Michael Olowokandi's actions last night," general manager Jim Stack said in a statement.

"Regardless of how the incident escalated, he never should have been in that situation."

And you wonder why I watch the NBA. Plus now my two favorite teams, the Nets and the Clippers, are on my teevee. I can't believe I'm the only one who thinks Marko Jaric looks just like Tintin.

--The Orange Revolution continues. I know it isn't as simple as
Yuschenko good, Yanukovych bad, but it possibly is simply the Ukrainian citizenry just refusing to accept business as usual anymore.

--Your random thought of the day: Justice League International and Star Trek: The Next Generation are two of the prime cultural documents of the late 80s and early 90s--the hazy end of Reagan/Bush I/beginning of Clinton period, which I swear is a discrete time period. More if I care to elaborate; whatever I'm thinking involves the JLI's status as a UN-sanctioned body and the Enterprise's commitment to diplomacy and a sort of multiculturalism under Captain Picard, neither of which would happen in DC comics or Trek shows today.

Thus concludes one South Jersey Thanksgiving.
THE "ORANGE REVOLUTION": Good times in the Ukraine, it seems like, with the people en masse deciding they were sick of the way the country was being run (as is explained here) and descending upon Kiev in a completely peaceful way. Fistful of Euros (which has been my main Ukraine blog) is somewhat pessimistic this morning, though, noting that there are many Ukrainians who would like to be more tied with Russia, though not enough to have won the election for Yanukovych. In other words, the election was fraudulent, but it's not like the whole entire nation wants Yushchenko. You should read that whole Fistful post; the situation is more complex, it seems, than just corrupt authoritarian government, oppressed people, etc., even if they are sticking flowers in the shields of riot cops. But whoever they had on All Things Considered today was saying this was a genuine Revolution, so we shall see.

Read The Periscope and Foreign Notes too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

IDENTITY CRISIS: I'M STILL NOT SOLD: I picked up 3 through 6 today because everybody's talking about it and nobody can figure out who Sue Dibny's murderer is. Your suspects are thought to be:

Ray Palmer
Dr. Light
Ray Palmer's ex-wife

And right now Ray Palmer's ex-wife is looking the most likely in my book, even though she, like Ray, has zero motivation to kill Sue. Hopefully the final twist will at least solve the murder mystery angle of ID; it seems DC is going to answer the other dangling parts (the Luthor suit, Firestorm exploding, Captain Boomerang's mother--and more) in a bewildering array of crossovers. But with the speculation amped up like it is, I don't know what Meltzer can do to satisfy everybody.

Anyway. Is this thing good aside from the hype? Does it hang together well? I can't judge it yet, but with six issues in the bank and one to go I should be able to--that's how much hinges on whether this thing is wrapped up convincingly or is the second coming of Zero Hour. Green Arrow's been done well. He's probably the "star" of IC, if you had to pick one person. Ralph....has been a blubbering mess and so has not been making with the detective work, yet I've read Meltzer quotes hyping Ralph's investigative skills so--again--one more issue.

And for some reason, everyone's drawn like they have glass eyes. It's weird.

Monday, November 22, 2004

A TOUCH OF THE ALL-NIGHTER: Which is what happens when you wait until 8 o'clock PM the night before the biochem quiz to get your studying mojo on. Or--alternatively--what happens when your mojo takes its sweet time to materialize out of the scholastic ether. Either way, the structure of ATP is not entering my brain in a timely fashion.


Simmons had his take on the Pacers-Pistons fans brawl and he pointed out that maybe if Ron Ron had actually gone after the right fan, it would have mitigated his sentence slightly. And he's right; the fact that he charged in there and knocked somebody down without seeing who did it means he's nutty. We always knew he was nutty, but not in a blindly charging in there kind of way. We didn't know he was Stephen Jackson nuts, in other words.

ESPN went all Zapruder film on the brawl and pretty much consclusively proved that white hat-Wallace jersey guy--the guy who grabbed Artest from behind while Ron was inquiring if the first man he attacked did it, and then got in some punches on Ron from that position--was the beer-tosser. (Interestingly, another piece of debris looked like it was being launched at the same time from another part of the court. It didn't hit anybody, I guess.) He has a name: John Green.

A questionable election in the Ukraine goes for the Kremlin's boy. NO!

I stopped reading Identity Crisis due to not liking the whole death-and-rape of Sue Dibny thing (and in hindsight, if you're going to slag Meltzer for that you have to slag Alan Moore for that too--Watchmen also had a prominent rape) but people are still talking about it incessantly so apparently it is following through on its promise and its hype. I personally smell a big Matrix: Revolutions-esque letdown. In that spirit, here's a well-thought-out conspiracy theory saying it's Jason Todd back from the grave who is the killer. And from the same poster at Newsarama, a more likely post saying the Calculator is the killer. I think the evidence suggesting Ray Palmer did it is a feint by Meltzer.

I'm sorry if somebody got "spoiled" by reading this. But if you don't want to get spoiled, stay off the friggin' Internet.

Back to how phosphoenolpyruvate really really wants to donate its phosphate to ADP.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

JUST MINDNUMBING: How is Artest gone for the season but Stephen Jackson coming back in 30? And Ron Ron's been on his best behavior for the last season or so.

Look--I'm an Artest fan. He's a character. I think he deserves punishment for what he did. Just not significantly more than Stephen Jackson, who really turned this thing into a full-fledged brawl. He's getting punished based on his past history, a history he has largely overcome. And neither Jackson nor Artest deserve jack shit if the Detroit organization is not getting punished because of the actions of their fans. How is Stern's judgement not saying. "You know what, fans? If there's a guy on the other team you think you can provoke into doing something stupid, by all means, throw a beer at him"? I hope another shoe is dropping here, but I doubt it. Stern would never do anything as actually innovative as punishing a fan base by making their team play a game in an empty arena.

What makes all this doubly shameful is the fact that the Pacers had smoked the Pistons, and that Artest had successfully needled Ben Wallace into flipping out. All that effort squandered on one thrown beer.

I don't think the thought crossed Ron Ron's mind that "Hey--if I retaliate, I can promote my crappy album!" but if it did, I would not be surprised.

And this is neither here nor there, but why, with 45 seconds and the game won, were Artest and Wallace still in the game?

Anyway, ridiculous stuff. Jermaine O'Neal should not be getting 25 games for hitting a guy who attacked his teammate on the friggin' court. And if you're throwing out Ron for the whole season, at least give Ben Wallace a few more games than 5 for starting the whole thing.

Utah won, by the way. They end up playing Boston College and smoking them in a bowl and then splitting the title with some BCS lackey squad, is my prediction. And so the BCS dies a little more.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

THE PISTONS-PACERS BRAWL: Holy crud. My two clever comments, way after the fact:

It's too bad Jack Nicholson wasn't involved.

With Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson playing on the same team, something like this was bound to happen.

People are going to point to Artest with this one and they're going to be mostly wrong. I didn't see the game up to that point, so I don't know if he was being any more of his usual annoying self on the court--but there was seemingly no reason for Wallace to clobber him the way he did after a pretty standard foul. Maybe Ben was upset because the Pistons had gotten thoroughly smoked that night, or just frustrated by the Pistons' overall mediocre start, or maybe Ron Ron had been needling him all night. The point is, what Ben went right for Ron Ron's head and he's going to be suspended for a long time.

And Artest basically stayed out of it. He knows he has a bad rep that he's been slowly working himself out of. He's also completely nuts. He's not fake nuts like Rodman with the tatoos and the pink hair and the "look at me!" Ron is legit crazy--this is my understanding--and so when he's lying on the scorer's table he's cooling down in his own singular fashion. He is not attempting to show up the Pistons fans. So when he gets hit by a beer or a beer-like object--well, it still doesn't excuse charging the stands in my opinion. And from what I've heard the numbnuts went after the wrong guy when he did charge the stands.

But--but--this was not all him. And Stephen Jackson did not need to go running into the stands after him and whacking somebody else who had nothing to do with it. The two guys with the Pistons jerseys who came on the court after Artest--the heavier one, you will recall, took the punch in the face from Jermaine O'Neal--deserved what they got. So there you are.

The ESPN talking heads, by the way, were blaming the fans and thus defending the NBA product a bit too much for my tastes.

In other NBA news: the Suns beat the Lakers in what looked like a great game; Dwayne Wade put the Heat into OT after a cheap foul by Kirilenko and then won it for them; the Sonics are--inexplicably--9 and 1. That can't last.

In other basketball news: Santa Clara beat North Carolina. AWESOME.

In other college sports news: Utah plays BYU tomorrow in an attempt to go undefeated and truly mess with the BCS. Let's all hope they succeed. But if anybody can beat them in some fluky way it's BYU in the last game of the season. I had no idea they actually call this game the "Holy War."

That's sports. I also applaud Josh Marshall's attempt to find out how every Republican congressperson voted on the Delay rule.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

SECOND GROUP OF TESTS: And the great full time student/full time office drone experiment continues.

Biochemistry: My percentile grade was atrocious, but so was everyone else's, so it worked out okay. Our professor can't decide if he's evil or not, so he gives weird tests and then inexplicably adds on extra points afterwards. I have a high B+ right now and that's the bottom line.

Histology: ANOTHER class with the bad percentile/good in reference to everyone else dynamic. I felt our professor's disappointment was directed more at me as I shed 25 points from the first test to this one. I could not bring myself to mention that I was just coming back from my grandfather's funeral that day so I had an excuse for being out of it and not studying as much as I would have liked. But it was a crappy excuse since I was coasting from my fabulous grade in the first test anyway, even before my grandfather's death.

Did I mention that? No, I didn't. The funeral was last Tuesday. A few of my Michigan cousins came in and there was this clash of cultures thing at the service as we would alternate between solemn bible readings and my dad's eulogy and my Michigan cousin belting out karaoke hymns. It was hard to sustain the proper emotion during Amazing Grace played in this sort of 70s-motion-picture-soundtrack way.

So I did not bring this up. What would the point be? You can't make up a histology test--you can't ask your professor to set up 25 microscopes again. And I was slacking anyhow. Let's move on, as Bill Simmons would say.

Microbiology: Eh. No idea what I got. Our professor's been away with undisclosed "family issues" and hasn't posted any grades yet. I only needed a 42 on this to maintain an A average.

Genetics: I had an awful feeling after this one, but everybody else did too which made me feel better the next day. The class average was 50 percent, so you knew we were getting a helpful curve on this thing. Mine worked out to a B+ which doesn't tell me anything since our final grade is based on our final point total in reference to the rest of the class. But there you go.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A CUP OF COFFEE, A SANDWICH, AND YOU: Except replace "you" with "a genetics textbook." And add a highlighter. Welcome to my weekend.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I'LL TELL YOU ONE THING: Watching 'ER' does not make me overjoyed at the prospect of practicing medicine. Maybe I should watch 'Scrubs' more.

Monday, November 08, 2004

ANOTHER THREE TEST WEEK: So don't expect a lot from me. But if you're still not over the election, I invite you to shake that ass, bitch. Via the DVDVR.

The tests:

Histology: Always the wildcard in this curve-based class: will I do well enough in reference to my classmates to get the A? It's a bit harder this time, now that we have to identify different parts of the small intestine based on how they look microscopically.

Biochemistry: Our first-time-teaching-this-class professor has been erring on the side of kindness lately, which I hope continues this week.

Microbiology: I have 21 extra points to play with heading into this exam with three hundred eight points out of a possible three hundred points to my credit overall. My wily strategem may be to study harder for biochem, given my excellent situation here.

There you go.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

MY FAVORITE ELECTORAL MAP: I'm sure you've seen the United States of Canada/Jesusland one that gave us Kerry voters much-needed yucks. And the USA Today red-and-blue county map. And the one comparing the current election to the one in 1896. This one, though, is my favorite thus far; it's certainly the most-eye-catching:

Via Crooked Timber. Who got it from here. It's three guys from the University of Michigan and once they plot out their data and everything they reach this conclusion:

It appears that there are, as the pundits have been telling us, "two Americas," but they are not the ones people usually talk about. They are "divided America," where people split roughly evenly between Republican and Democrat, and "decided America," where everyone is a Democrat. The Democrats of "decided America" number about 5.9 million, or 11% of all Democratic voters. These people are unlikely ever even to encounter a Republican voter in their home town.

If one were to summarize simply, it appears that the election's winner won by a slim majority of people in counties that -- as counties -- were rather ambivalent about their decision. He was opposed by a nearly (but not quite) equal number of people a considerable fraction of whom live in counties that were very certain of their support for his opponent.

So there you have it: statistical evidence of the liberal coccoon. Six million people who've never even seen a Republican. If I was a conservablogger I'd be all over this. But I'm not--so down to sleep I go.

By the way--Blogger stinks with fonts. And USC lost and Utah won. The BCS dies this year, I swear it.

UPDATE: USC didn't actually lose--the hey? I swear ESPN said that. The BCS dies anyway.

Friday, November 05, 2004

MY FINAL ANALYSIS: They should've gone with Dean. At least it would've been interesting. Kerry was a flawed candidate compared to Bush because he couldn't keep his story straight. The combination of gay marriage and the general association of Republicans with defense put Bush over the top. The gayest, most terrorized city in America went overwhelmingly for Kerry. There you are.

Let.....the healing.....begin.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

WELL. AT LEAST THE NBA IS BACK: And what was Stern thinking anyway starting the season yesterday? Did he think the non-voters needed alternative programming? How completely goofy.

Anyway--so I've read and heard a bunch of post-mortems, about the Democrats being so out of touch and the rightward turn and divided America and Kerry couldn't differentiate himself enough and Bush's simplicity and how the Republicans represent average America (which seems to mean non-Northeastern, non-West Coastal, non-Great Lakes America--all of natural body of water-free America, actually, is "average" America) and the Democrats do not. But I think the simple Steve Sailer explanation is the best: "It was a repeat of 2000, except that the country shifted about three points to the right, most likely due to 9/11." There you go.

This--from Yglesias--is funny.

I mean--I kind of wish they had nominated Dean and lost big, rather than go with a guy who was "electable" but didn't really change the dynamics of the race at all. But whatever. I'm resigned. America has rewarded a completely fucked-up war in Iraq and I don't understand it all but--whatever. Maybe we won't really invade Iran.
AS OF 1:30 A.M. WEDNESDAY MORNING: Deep, deep depression.

Monday, November 01, 2004

CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC: Maybe because the Bush blogs seems a little more nervous than the Kerry blogs. Steyn threatened to stop writing if Kerry wins, so that's something.

Slate has them tied which is a Bush win but 1. it's close and 2. it certainly would be something to see. I mean, I don't think it would tear apart the republic or anything. Plus if the Senate amazingly goes Dem we'd have a Bush-Edwards administration. This guy at Princeton has some kind of tricked-out analysis that's given Kerry a pretty sizable lead. Good ol' electoral-vote dot com has Kerry up by quite a few as well.

Plus the time for argument is past. Ain't nothing to it but to do it.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

WISH IT WAS TUESDAY: And while I am encouraged by the polls, I'm sure the other side is too, which means there's no telling at this point which way it's going to go. So--again--I wish it was Tuesday. Or Wednesday morning and we're all waiting for Hawaii to report to tip it to one side....

So. Alternating between depression and calm confidence. So just like every other day but now I have a good reason.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

VOTE KERRY: It's what Osama bin Laden doesn't want you to do. That's my slightly partisan take on the cave-dweller sticking his head into our election. Just because of the My Pet Goat mention and assuming that he's smart enough to know that's going to tie him with our American left and end up being a net for Bush. Why assume he's smart? Well, we haven't caught him yet. Well, maybe we're dumb. I hope not.

I actually hope this has no effect whatsoever, but there's no way to be sure about that anymore. In a rational way I hope it would be a net gain for Kerry, because people would think to themselves, "Say--why isn't that bin Laden fella dead yet?" and then vote for a guy who hasn't failed at that little endeavor, or much else yet. But I'm thinking any undecided (however many are left) who's voting in a terror-first way is going to swing toward Bush on Tuesday, and that me no like.

One good thing for Kerry: He played this as well as he could, issuing a strong statement right afterwards that mentioned Bush not at all and was just a general neutral term of our national policy to capture and kill terrorists. (Bush wouldn't have used the word "capture", though.) I guess Bush played it the right way too, actually, doing the same thing. So maybe this halfassed attempt to influence our election won't be worth shit. Which is--again--my preferred outcome. And lightyears better than any other Madrid-like attempt to influence our election.

So--yeah. Inititally I agreed with Yglesias that bin Laden prefers Bush because he's a good foil for him in his (Bush's) blundering and his use of religious rhetoric, which plays into bin Laden's propaganda efforts but maybe that's giving him too much credit. Look--let's just pretend we never saw that crappy tape tonight, all right, America?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

THE OTHER PLAN: Graduate school in the biological sciences. Because:

1. I might not actually like doctor work.
2. I may be more of a "knowledge for knowledge's sake" type than an "applied knowledge" type.
3. This is related to 2.: I may find the biological literature more interesting than the medical literature.
4. Grad school itself is really hard, and you have to show some creativity in there too in the process of finding an idea and researching it and making some kind of contribution to science. In medicine you can do this too, but not for a while, and before you do you have to learn a whole lot of rules of practicing medicine because it is really really important that you not screw up. Whereas you can screw up in the higher levels of the sciences and not kill anybody. I guess that's all one point.
5. There's a whole wide range of things to study within the biological sciences. You are more restricted within medicine for obvious reasons. And it's not like medicine is a subset of biology; it's this art & practice thing, not a science.
6. My ancientness. I could be a Ph.D. faster than I could be an M.D., though it probably takes you longer to get established as a Ph.D.
7. Related to 1: Lifestyle issues. Doctors tend to look pretty miserable.

Arguing against it: I have no idea how people decide on what to specialize in within the sciences. My friend at school says it's all random, it's just a matter of what kind of program you get into, and in any case you're going to have to spend some time working on something that isn't really "yours." Whereas I can see how med students find something that appeals to them: the options (the specialties and subspecialties) are a lot more clear.

Just thinking out loud here. I need....options. And it would be a bad idea to commit myself to medical school if I wasn't completely sure about it. And--hey!--I could actually not get into medical school. So making more plans is a good idea.

Anyway. Josh Marshall thinks he has killed the "explosives were moved before the war" story. It looks pretty conclusive to me, but I await the Bush Apologists' rebuttals.
THE RED SOX WIN THE WORLD SERIES: And the Great Pumpkin shines down on America. Coincidence? I think not. Now we only need one last idiot from Massachusetts to win on Tuesday.

Okay--that's the glib obvious part of the post. The World Series felt anticlimatic to me, and maybe it felt that way to the Cardinals too, knowing what the Red Sox had just done. But they were in a seven-game series themselves so thet couldn't have been too concerned. No, the Red Sox just won. They hit better and they pitched better. How's that for analysis?

But even if they had lost, they're still the only team to utterly humiliate the Yankees in unprecedented fashion. That was the big thing. The World Series is great for the team and the city of Boston. The Yankee-killing--that's great for everybody, and it was so great to watch it live. That's what I'm not getting from the actual World Series win, the sense of "Is this really happening?" I got during Games 4, 5, and 6 of the ALCS. Which proves that I'm not a Red Sox fan really, nor even a baseball fan, but a fan of the drama called sports. Tonight is for the real Sox fans and good for them.

Titan is a badass planet.

Monday, October 25, 2004

NO OCTOBER SURPRISE QUITE YET: I mean, I don't think the idea that Kerry may not have, in fact, met with the whole entire Security Council is a real Kerry-killer. I don't think that's the best Team Bush can do--I'm sure they have something else up their sleeve--but if it is, it wasn't much.

The worst possible "October Surprise" is some kind of attack on us, of course. The Madrid bombings took place three days before the Spanish national election, so we're not out of the woods yet. At least there isn't an obvious "11" date in there for the obsessive terrorist-numerologist types to latch on to. Although November is the 11th month. I have yet to read something that explains the relvance of the numer 11 to the jihadists, so I oculd be making the connection up. My comics-reading brain wants them to be completely insane yet rigorously compulsive, so we can simple figure out their attacks in advance like when Batman always stops the Riddler.

I would've thought if somebody was going to drag Osama out they would've done it by now, so I guess that one isn't happening.

Anything else? Crude "Kerry supports deviant lifestyles" flyers won't work at this point. The long-rumored Bush abortion story? Maybe--people actually do think the "Bush drunk driving" story had an impact in 2000. But I sort of think all the skeletons are out at there at this point. Maybe Theresa will do a drunken rant on live television, but that's about it.

So the only potential election-changing event is a real terrorist attack. Now, logically, this would certainly be in Kerry's favor, since it would pretty well prove we are not being well-protected under the current administration. Illogically--and equally likely--would be a "he's a moron, but he's our moron" rally-around-the-flag reaction which would benefit Bush. But an attack is not a political trick, so it wouldn't be an actual October Surprise, which was the subject of this post.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

SNIPPETS: Because it's late and I'm tired.

--Liberal media bias in action. The EM-ESS-EM refuses to report on all the good stories coming out of Boston.

--Related to that--and no longer making a cheap point--the death of Victoria Snelgrove was completely senseless. I mean, I think it's all part of the militarization of our police forces, a relationship turning more towards police viewing the citizenry like an occupying force and not like fellow citizens. Then again, her death was a total fluke. The "beanbag" gas-pellet whatsis that killed her hit her in the only place it could kill her, the eye. Then again, every report I've read suggests that 1. the weapon was fired wrong (at her head, not her chest; not that she was doing anything) and 2. the weapon didn't need to be fired in the first place.

Was it a classy move by Fox and the Red Sox to mention her before the game tonight? I don't know. They did it tastefully, and they probably had to mention it. So I guess--on balance--they did it with class. It's just--it's awful that the greatest comeback ever is now linked with the Red Sox and somebody's completely senseless death.

--Red Sox take game one in a good, back-and-forth game. If I possessed any deep baseball knowledge I could provide a better analysis.

--Boise State remains undefeated, as does Utah. The BCS dies this year--I predict it! Well, actually, Wilbon thinks it's the growing parity of college football that's going to kill the BCS, something I hadn't really noticed. But it probably is there, in signs like Penn State and Nebraska and Notre Dame being sort of average, and Rutgers having a good year, and Norther Illinois and Bowling Green and Miami of Ohio almost breaking out last year and Boise State and Utah this year.

--Diana takes shrillness to new levels.*

*"Shrillness" used with irony. As you could probably guess.

--Never mind about Rutgers--they got whooped by Pittsburgh today.

--They opened a Hooters in China and made all this noise about how weird it was to open a Hooters in the allegedly conservative culture there, but this is a culture that has no problem with prostitution at all, as long as it is kept underground and sleazy. So it's more of the Western/American forms of open sexual display that is the problem. Note that the Chinese Hooters girls were described as students looking to brush up on their English converation skills. This is a completely obvious point, of course.

--That is all. Full day of football 'n' baseball tomorrow.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

MY FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR HERE IN PHILLYVILLE, MUSICALLY SPEAKING: The WKDU Electronic Music Marathon. 78 hours of electronica, and--just like when I listen to the jazz station--I never know quite what I'm listening to, but I know I like it. Have a listen. It's just a shame I'm stuck at work all weekend, and the office computer police have banned all streaming audio and the four-block broadcasting radius of WKDU cannot penetrate the multiple layers of glass and concrete of my office tower so I can't listen. But I can fall asleep to the sweet beats this evening. And the car on the way in. Maybe I should drag in my giant 70s-era Magnavox radio/turntable in with me, a relic from the last days when a radio could also be a piece of furniture. Well, I can't do that.

But--yeah. I wish I knew a bit more about electronic music to know what I'm listening to, but I get the feeling that's the kind of music you'd have to join an actual "scene" to really appreciate, and probably at a young age as well. So I remain an electronica philistine.

Good night, oh Internet.

Friday, October 22, 2004

SO. CARDS VERSUS SOX: With St. Louis getting to Roger Clemens in the 5th--or 6th? around then--and pulling away from Houston in an okay game that I watched but was never really into, having missed most of it for the much more readily accessible drama of the Sox-Yankees series. It's easier for non-baseball fans like me to get into Sox-Yankees, or Sox-Anybody, or (like last year) Cubs-Anybody, or Yankees-Anybody, because there's all this inherent drama to these older teams with reputations for pure evil or pure poor lovable patheticity. Sox-Cardinals has quite bit of inherent drama to it (and I remember Bob Ryan saying something recently about St. Louis and Boston being the last two true baseball cities, so the fans will be amped. Did you notice somebody beating a drum in the background at Fenway? It was like a soccer crowd) though not as much as the Sox-Cubs series that never happened last year would have had. And one wonders if the idiots will suffer a letdown against the Cardinals, just because totally crushing and humiliating the Yankees happens once in a lifetime, and is in that sense a much greater achievement than a World Series that happens every year. I dunno. Certainly the Yankees had nothing left after last year's ALCS. There may be more of a viewing audience letdown--again, the same as last year--as no series could compare to this ALCS and that ALCS. No other series could have that history, except--again--Cubs-Sox. It's a drama two years in the making that finally ended in the most improbable way possible and I'm thinking an at least partially anticlimatic World Series is inevitable. But at least it's not the Sox vs. a McFranchise.

Anyway. The Curse has not been lifted yet, but maybe the Sox came up with something better than the Curse: a three loss in a row, four win in a row ALCS that had never ever happened before, and happened against baseball's most storied franchise at the hands of one of its more pathetic ones. Not that that will make up for another Bill Buckner moment if it happens, but this has to feel so good to Boston fans right now.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

"NO": That's what I was thinking of during those extra inning games, that scene in the Matrix where Keanu realizes he doesn't have to take the agents' shit anymore and then he prevents Agent Smith from even landing a punch. THAT'S what I was thinking of; there was this sense that no matter how long those games dragged on and no matter what the Yankees threw at the Red Sox, it didn't matter. Not after the comeback in game four, which I guess was the "No" moment. I was thinking of it then and this whole week, but I didn't want to mention it for fear of unleashing the jinx.

Things that made me think the baseball gods were smiling on the Red Sox:

--The wind in game six. The way it kept out at least one home run--I forget whose.

--That ground rule double that held somebody at second in a key moment.

--Most of all, those reversed calls, the kind of thing that would've gone for the Yankees in previous years. The near-homerun was completely reminescent of the Jeff Maier incident. And every other year Alex Rodriguez gets away with slapping the ball away. There's no replay in the MLB but these ump pow-wows appear to be working.

I mean--I had no opinion of Alex Rodriguez before that moment, other than knowing he was the poster child for being completely overplayed when he was with the Rangers. But apparently he's a bit of a punk as well.

So. We have a sports victory for all time, even if game seven was a bit of an anticlimax. I think game six killed the Yankees, the combination of the Schilling performance and the reversed calls took all the life out of them. But I know I didn't believe it was going to happen until the final out.

Monday, October 18, 2004

WELL. I WAS GOING TO WRITE SOMETHING CHIDING NEW ENGLANDERS FOR THEIR RED SOX MANIA: Which seems ridiculous when they have the friggin' Patriots, owners of almost every important NFL winning streak as of today (except the undefeated season one, but I think what they've done is actually more impressive, given the parityliciousness of the contemporary NFL. And they could still pull that one off.) But then the Red Sox pulled it off, doing it in the extremely difficult beating-Mariano-Rivera-in-the-playoffs way. Now to win they have to win three in a row and a game seven in the Bronx. Hey, good luck, but if the baseball gods really are favoring the Sox this year like everybody thought they were, they (the gods) certainly have a highly developed sense of drama. Being gods, that is to be expected.

The thing that I was going to write about was how sick we are hearing about the Sox and the Patirots are right there and blah blah blah. Then I was going to add something about how if the Celtics couldn't remove the myopic focus on the Sox during the Celtics' heyday, nothing ever could. And something about how I was souring on them anyway, through no fault of their own; more through of being sick of the constant Sox-Yankees talk during this time of year. But they looked so happy out there when Ortiz jumped into the crowd at home plate, celebrating one measly victory and being up against the wall in the worst possible way, that I am back on the Sox bandwagon. It would take a monumental victory for them to win at this point, but the Pistons beat the Lakers. Anything's possible.

One random football note: it must be great to be a successful NFL coach and wear the official NFL gear coaches' shirts and not have to worry about one's developing manboobs in the least. It takes a Bill Belichick to really pull off gynecomastia, I guess.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

YOUR PRE-ELECTION BUSHOPHOBIC LINK OF THE DAY: Suskind makes you afraid of four more years of Bush if you're at all the kind of person disposed to mistrust the organized religious right. Or deeply mistrustful of the whole "words speak louder than actions" style of this administration. Via Yglesias. I mean--the fact that this is coming out right now suggests that Suskind is trying to stir us up against the President, those of us who aren't stirred up yet (though I can't imagine there are too many of those left.) But we should be stirred up against him. His whole presidency has been downright weird. Or absurd, as John Stewart called it yesterday when he was reaming Begala and Tucker Carlson. (By the way, did you notice that Andrew Sullivan thought Stewart's beef was just with Crossfire, and not the "serious" news media in general? I think he missed Stewart's point.) Let's just get this apparently competent Kerry fellow in there, and not deal with Bush's religious issues and family issues (meaning his relationship with George H.W.) for another four years. You know what I mean? Let's go with the serious person who probably always wanted the job, and not the guy who just sort of drifted into it.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

MARY CHENEY THOUGHTS, TWO DAYS POST-DEBATE: I was thinking it was a tactically good move by Kerry, since no matter what the Bush team does to defend themselves, they look either homophobic or they cheese off their own bases. If you say "How dare you say Mary is gay"--then you're saying there's something wrong with being gay. If you bring it up at all, you're letting the base know that Mary is, indeed, gay, which can't help with the "drum up the base" strategy.

But the talking heads when I got home tonight were saying the mention the polls showed a slight uptick for Bush and attributed it to the Mary comment. So maybe the undecideds are going with the idea that you should not bring a person's daughter into this no matter what, and are not being turned off by the Bush base's homophobia. Which would mean the Mary mention had backfired. And I'm pretty sure it was an intentional, tactical mention that Kerry was dying to stick in there somewhere; John Edwards certainly brought her up often enough.

Well, whatever. I doubt the race will turn on this, and there are still a few weeks to go.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

ALMOST BATTING A THOUSAND: Let me tell you the final results of the "four major tests in a week" week.

Histology: This is one of those classes where your grade is always a work in progress, measured on a curve against your fellow classmates across the course of a semester. Plus my professor is a data-collectin' fool so he's comparing our results against classes over the past twenty years or so. I got a 79 percent on my test. In this class--in this context--it was an A.

Biochemistry: This one I was really fearing, because our professor (it's his first time teaching this course, remember) gave us an amazingly difficult quiz before the test that we all did pretty lousy on. Then he wrote us all an e-mail letting us know how awful we did. So we had no idea what to expect going in. What we got was half multiple choice and three essayish questions and just with that I had a B+ and then he tacked on extra points because people weren't finishing on time and this nets me the big A. I think he was almost overcompensating this time for a perceived harshness of grading the initial quiz. Well, hey--it's still an A.

Microbiology: Did I mention this class? With the quizzes that allow us to build up extra credit points before the test because our professor doesn't believe in curving? I had a 21 point cushion going in. End score: 98.

Genetics: This--this class is the one I avoid because 1. it's so hard to go back to work at 5 P.M. and get anything done and skipping this lets me get there around three and 2. I loathe the gimmicks our professor uses to spur on class involvement. Let me just sit back and learn, okay? So I was worried about the class where I am attendance-challenged. And I was right to worry, because I missed some stupid questions on that test and got a C+. But then--came the gimmick. Our professor went over the test. It took awhile--it went over our alotted time, in fact. And he said people could go if they wanted to, but he didn't want to use the next class period in going over the test, so you could go or stay if you wanted to. So I stayed because I knew I had the last question right. And I was right. Others stayed for the same reason. We were right. Somebody suggested we who stayed to the end get an extra three points. Our professor agreed, and the way this particular bell curve was constructed, this moved me from a C+ to a B+. But the catch is--we can never mention it to our fellow classmates, else we only get a single point, which helps us little. So. Plus: B+. Minus: I am now involved in a conspiracy of silence against my fellow classmates. I am such a sellout.

Well, okay then. Next thing: two twelve hour days on Friday and Saturday. I should get some rest.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

DEBATE MARK THREE: THE TETE-A-TETE IN TEMPE: Was sort of an even match, I thought. Can you declare Kerry the winner because Bush wasn't really able to do what he wanted to do? Because Bush was going for some kind of knock-out in the beginning there, looking for Kerry to give him an opportunity for some kind of devastating "There you go again" thing which Kerry never gave him. Bush's attempt to tag Kerry with "liberal senator from Massachusetts" weren't successful either. So Bush didn't do what he wanted to do and Kerry didn't screw up. The overall debates, in any case, would have to considered as a Kerry victory, since he has made up the Bush lead within that time.

Other things:

--Did Bush deny being for amnesty? I thought that was his immigration plan.

--The part where Bush was about to make a Dan Rather reference and then cut himself off was really weird.

--Number Three tonight was like a less animated verson of Number Two. They finally gave Bush the just-right porridge--eh? Know what I mean? You know? Eh? You know what I mean.

--One of the big unlanded punches was when Bush drawled out "one of those e-xag-ger-ations" to Kerry's claim that Bush said he didn't care where Osama was. Unlanded because he (Bush) actually did say that, and it was just rhetorically weird, because I think that was the first time they had tried to paint him with an "exaggerator" label. So it came out of nowhere.

--Kerry namedropped Mary Cheney out of nowhere, which got the talking heads and Julian Sanchez all riled up. Julian is right that it was sleazy, but it walks the fine line as far as being completely vile because all he did was mention her name. It's--a legal move. Put it that way.

My bias is showing, of course, forgiving Rovian tactics in the team I support. And so I end this post.
I HAVE RESOLVED: To not discuss politics with my parents until November 2nd is over and done with. I don't want our happy home turning into one of those divided Civil War households. Where brother fought brother. And sad music endlessly played over daguerrotypes as actors read letters from the boys in the front to Ma and Pa back home....

That's right. All that, and more, in Part Twenty-Seven of Ken Burns' Blogistan. The Blog that shaped a nation.

But no more politics between me and the parents. Our positions are intractable. To "debate" our positions is to invite bad feelings. And so I shall avoid it.

Monday, October 11, 2004

CAFFEINE: Caffeine is a vast conspiracy. It doesn't keep you awake when you don't want to be awake. Stopping drinking it at a reasonable hour doesn't let you fall asleep any faster.

It's like when your older relatives would give you grape juice and tell you it was wine and you would feel like you were drunk. Caffeine--it's an empty molecule, and I only act like my conception of what I think I am like when I am awake and not straying into sleep. That, or years of exposure have burnt out my caffeine receptors.

Julian Sanchez analyzing the President is freakin' great.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

FICTIONBLOGGING: I have the urge to turn this site into fictionblogging sometimes, even if I haven't done much of it. But at least then I wouldn't be completely tied to making points about politics or the NBA or what have you when I don't have any to make at the time. The effort to do fictionblogging is more, of course, even if its just stuff that feels like crap. But at least I wouldn't be making one-joke posts every day. Like this:

I love how Instapundit never ever links to Ken Layne anymore.*

See? A one joke post. But easy to make sometimes. Maybe we'll do an alternating series of one-jokes and fictionblogging and sports/politics stuff when the situation warrants. Plus half my fictionblogging impulses involve fanficesque nonsense that I'm sure nobody will appreciate. But at least I'd be putting that $125,000 education to use.

I dunno. Ask me when this crappy genetics test is done.

*Ken Layne link via Diana Moon, spunkiest Bush-hater on the Internets.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

JOHN KERRY IS GOOD FRIENDS WITH SUPERMAN: That's good enough for me. Even if I think he called him "Chris Reeves."

Friday, October 08, 2004

STONEWALLED: The worst sort of rejection is preemptive rejection. The kind where you think to yourself, "Hey--it would be neat to talk to that girl--" and you say something about the mutual test-taking ordeal you just went through and get the blankest of looks and the quickest of monosyllabic responses. Dang it.


Biochem test: I've never had a science test that requires you to answer short-answer questions for the most part, but that's what happened this morning. At least I knew my freakin' amino acids.

Microbiology test: Due to quiz extra credit points that get added onto the test grade I had the fat 21 point cushion entering this one. It was not too bad.

Genetics Tuesday. Then--relax for a bit.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

ONE TEST DOWN: Three to go.

I didn't watch the debate because of my rooting interests, which would force me to watch it in an emotional way. So I did my usual thing of having Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the background as I went over copies of my notes with a cheap highlighter. The early talking head consensus was that Cheney won, but now Chris Matthews is dragging out footage of Cheney drawing a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda which he denied doing during the debate. The blogging heads do not appear to have reached a consensus yet.

At least the Yankees lost in another high-stakes competition I did not watch.

Monday, October 04, 2004

RANDOM NFL NOTES: Because I sure did have the games on while I was studying today.

--Boy the 49ers stink. It's also interesting how the Rams seem to have a high degree of belief in Mike Martz, even though every non-Ram in the world thinks he's a loon.

--Roethlisberger wins again. Meanwhile Eli continues to ride the pine behind an Arena league veteran.

--Giants 3-1, Jets 4-0. Guess who's getting all the press, and making me remember why I loathe them.

--Today the Chargers crushed the Titans and the Cardinals crushed the Saints, two outcomes I did not expect. It must be so nice to be an NFL fan in Arizona, knowing there's always a zillion seats available and you can just cruise on there whenever if you feel like it.

--Eagles beat Bears and maybe I am just drinking the Philly media flavored sugar-water but it looks like this is their year. To reach the Superbowl anyway.

--The Byron Leftwich team almost beat the Peyton Manning team so I was almost happy with that result. I'll take the MAC guy over the smirking, useless pedigreed fratboy--the NFL's very own George W. Bush--any day of the week.

(Speaking of which, the MAC has really let me down this year, and I will probably have to shift my allegiance to the WAC, home of 5-0 Boise State. The destruction of the BCS is--as always--the most important thing.)

--How about post-concussion Favre calling his own number to get back in the Giants game? Crazy fella. In a good way.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

MEMO TO SELF: When sending pick-me-up moonpie bouquets to bloggers who continue to frighten you with their tales of the horrors of residency, try and make sure your name is one there somewhere, so you don't come off too much like the Mysterious Stranger. Got that, self? We cool? Good.

Friday, October 01, 2004

UNEXPECTED PLEASURE: Is flipping through the cable channels and finding Master of the Flying Guillotine on. I only caught about half of it. There's this tournament, see, with all these martial arts types fighting each other. To the DEATH! Except this blind monk shows up with a swastika on his chest and who is master of a flying guillotine, which does not resemble an actual guillotine but functions like one: it removes people's heads. Plus there's this "Indian" fighter (a Chinese guy in brownface; at least as offensive as Christopher Lee playing Fu Manchu, right?) whose arms stretch out like Dhalsim in Streetfighter, if you were wondering where Capcom got that from. The hero is a one-armed fighter who runs a kung fu school and manages to not let most of his students get killed--unusual for this type of movie in my experience. He has a cunning plan for defeating the blind guy, which sound not too tough but remember this is a kung fu blind guy. He's like Matt Murdock without the radioactivity.

I wish I knew more about Shaw Brothers. So far I've seen this, Five Deadly Venoms, and The Kid With the Golden Arm, all acknowledged classics. But there's a zillion Shaw Brothers movies out there and I get the feeling if I scratch the surface even slightly, I'll find a whole lot of crap. I have not been able to locate any Shaw Brothers must-see list thus far, besides the above, so--so my knowledge remains cursory. At least I've seen the classics.

And I have to say if you're complaining about not seeing subtitled versions of these things, or thinking the classic kung-fu style dubs are an artistic violation, you're barking up the wrong tree. Shaw Brothers movies should always be in the vernacular.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

PERMANENT STUDENT: One of my less pressing fears (I don't sweat it too much) is being the permanent student. Accumulating a procession of credits and degrees while never quite stringing them into a career. I may be more process-oriented than goal-oriented. Hey--that's a pseudoscientific distinction I just made up. I am the John Gray of my generation. Unless somebody else made that up and I just remembered.

Anyway--process-oriented. Appreciating the journey more than the destination. That's another cliche.

But being more comfortable with the way things happen than the way they wind up. That's not very clear, but something that's the opposite of "goal-oriented" without a negative meaning and isn't men-Mars-women-Venus squishy crappy. Which makes me think academics may be more up my alley.

And there's a weird colloquialism, so three strikes and this post is out. But--in conclusion--there are a variety of things that can be done with a medical degree, academics being one of them.

Monday, September 27, 2004

LET'S JUST GET THIS OUT IN THE OPEN: That Texas quarter looks like a boardwalk token. Or a Parkway token. If you're not from Jersey, you won't know exactly what I mean; think Chuck E Cheese currency. But it doesn't look like real currency.
A WEEK BEFORE THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS WEEK: Check out the actual Chamber of Horrors Week:

10/5: Histology Exam #1
10/5: Genetics Exam #1
10/7: Biochem Exam #1
10/7: Microbiology Exam #1

Wherein it is determined whether or not 15 credits plus full-time job is doable. If I take the W in anything, it is Biochem, which only a few schools are interested in seeing on my transcript (Keck, I am looking in your direction.) Plus our professor for the class sent out an e-mail tonight letting us know how bad we all did on the first quiz. And he posted the answers on the web and included a note saying how important it is to do well on your first quiz, since it is your professor's first impression of you and can make the difference as far as giving the benefit of the doubt in grading, and we shoud keep this in mind for future classes but not for his because it was already too late for most of us. Thanks, teach! Thanks for the...inspiration...

Anyway. Genetics is the one I really need to graduate. The others are med school prep. Not to minimize that or anything, but when time is short, a heirarchy of priorities tends to emerge. Yes it does.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

CRITICISM ON INFINITE BLOGS: Some really great commentary over at Howling Curmudgeons on the once-in-a-lifetime series that was Crisis On Infinite Earths. I say "once-in-a-lifetime" because no matter how many times a bunch of superheroes team up to save the universe, only once did it happen that forty years of continuity was destroyed in the process. And continuity that evolved in a sort-of natural way, guided by forty years of editiorial decisions:

Meanwhile, National Periodicals had begun in the thirties and forties with a divided editorial approach: there was no Stan Lee who was in overall control: the Superman books did not coordinate with the Justice Society books, for example. (This lack of inter-company unity is one of the reasons that Superman and Batman weren't part of the original Justice Society comics that were published in the 1940's, as those were under the aegis of the All-American Comics editorial staff.) Long after this concrete division between All-American Comics and the Superman offices ceased to exist, Mort Weisinger rang the Superman books like a private fiefdom: instead of the deliberate creation of a continuous setting like that which Marvel had, DC comics instead had to constantly explain the disconnected setting created by this division, with two surviving cities of Atlantis underwater (one the home of Aquaman and the other where Superman's mermaid girlfriend Lori Lemaris came from) as just one example. Eventually, as Mort took his hands off the reins and Julie Schwartz took over the Superman office, the DC comics universe was created out of the until-then disparate editorial offices.

You should read that post and this one; read the commentators as well. There are actual Roy Thomas defenders there, and he was a guy who I always understood as this weird continuity obsessive. But I think that may have been unfair; here's the David Fiore comment that's got me thinking:

Thomas (like Gruenwald and Stern, and maybe Englehart) possesses (possessed?) the wonderful ability to obssess upon "what has come before" without coming off as merely nostalgic... What I'm saying, I guess, is that it always feels like there's more than just a passion for connecting the dots motivating this guy. He seizes upon "gaps" in past continuity as opportunities--he doesn't treat them as errors/problems that must be soldered/reified into bright hard spinning objects before the "faithful" awake from their hypnotic slumber...

In that sense, I kind of think that the whole DC Universe, pre-Crisis, was a gift DC editorial didn't appreciate. It was a total mess. It didn't have the streamlined cool of the single Marvel Universe (though there were alternate Earths in Marvel too, like where the Squadron Supreme lived.) But it was honestly created, and reflected years of fictional history and the economic/publishing history that led to it (the early editiorial splits in the 40s, the Captain Marvel lawsuit that led (I think) to DC's possession of the Fawcett characters, the Charlton and Quality characters they picked up. I have no idea why Marvel never bought any defunct companies. They did buy Malibu and then closed it down; I don't know if they brought that particular universe to a close or not.) It was irreplaceable, actually, and once DC killed it their universe became a lot less interesting. In a playful, childlike way, anyway; I can't tell you how neat it was to be like eight years old and thinking about two Aquamen, for example. The arguments at Curmudgeons suggest that DC kind of threw the baby out with the bathwater in Crisis, sacrificing the DC universe's uniqueness in the name of making it all more sensible. There was probably some Marvel envy in there as well, which--in retrospect--was completely unnecessary.

For reasons like the above I have become a Crisis skeptic in recent years. When it first came out I thought it was the greatest thing ever. But it ended up doing more harm than good, as DC didn't enforce its own rules about what happened at the end of Crisis--many unverses becoming one and only the heroes remembering. Everyone forgot it. Characters underwent multiple reboots. Continuity became joke-like, and it makes it hard for me to read--say--current Superman stories, knowing there is no link back to Weisinger era, or the Earth 2 era, or any other part of Superman's development like there used to be.

We did get the JLI, though, which was their attempt to cobble together a league from the five important alternate Earths plus a new character from Crisis (Dr. Light) and the first post-Crisis DC hero (Booster Gold.) But there were gentler ways of making continuity simpler (if that was the goal); but they didn't want that--they wanted the DC Universe Will Never Be The Same and that's what they got.

I'm also a Crisis skeptic because of accessibility issues. Would anyone but a comics fan appreciate Uncle Sam--the Quality comic book character based on the guy on the poster--soliloquizing on a floating asteroid? Rip Hunter popping up in odd places? The death of the Earth-2 Robin and Huntress? Only a comics fan knows what these things mean. You could enjoy it as a non-fan, but knowing where all these people are coming from--well, it makes it more meaningful. That's my point.

By the way, I can't believe DC published the original Who's Who as the same time as Crisis, seeing as it was a catalog of the universe(s) they were about to destroy. I guess they felt they could make a series out of all the research they did for Crisis.

Friday, September 24, 2004

THAT JUICY FRUIT AD: One of the more long-running areas of interest we've talked about around here is the art form of television commercials. We--I take the standard libertarianism-applied-to-culture view that commercials are tiny, legit narratives that often take more chances than big budget Hollywood pictures. Or maybe this is the Pagliaist view--I can't remember if I got it from her or from Reason. Anyway.

So this is the way we look at commericals around here and we have this Juicy Fruit ad. Apparently they've coated Juicy Fruit with a sugar coating and put under plastic and foil, a packaing style that used to reserved for things like Clorets. They're pushing it with this ad:

Scene: A pool. "Realistic" lighting if you know what I mean, nothing gleaming or polished and made-for-tv. "Realistic" people, too; no unnaturally satisfied looks on their faces as in every McDonald's ad.

It's CPR training day at the pool. This one sullen kid--white, male, longish straggly blakc hair--gets called forward to the CPR. He's chewing Juicy Fruit, but it doesn't make him look happy to be blowing in the training dummy's mouth. The dummy is male, and this is no important than any other detail in this ad. It's the overall weirdness of it.

So he's breathing in with his Juicy Fruit-spiked breath and the dummy comes to life. He stumbles to life and stumbles out of the pool to the shock of the onlookers. The kid at some point gets out, "He's got my Juicy Fruit." And the next shot is of the dummy hiding in the hallway from the kid. He has the product in his hand at that point, the package, but I didn't see when or where he got it. The subtext is, he has stolen ABC Juicy Fruit from the kid's very mouth. If this is not what happened--if the kid tossed his gum out and I keep missing it--I apologize.

Did I mention the dummy hits the door on the way out and his arm falls off? That happens too.

The dummy runs out the front of the high school, goes out of sight behind some bushes and a wall or something, and emerges back into view riding a bike. Being one-armed and a dummy, his driving skills are limited and he runs right into a parked car (a tiny older Ford Escort sort of thing; its alarm goes off) and falling to the ground. At this point the kid tracks the dummy down, and pulls his other arm off while wresting his Juicy Fruit back. A look of annoyance crosses his features as he drops the arm and turns away.

The setting is one of suburban squalor. Juicy Fruit does not remove the squalor, but it does make it more livable, apparently, as the kid will fight to get it back. Juicy Fruit is also capable of bestowing a transient life upon a dummy, but cannot make the dummy physically more stable (i.e., his arms fall off) or make him more coordinated or anything but a dummy.

So buy Juicy Fruit. I have no theory about the gum-swapping. It's a weird little narrative.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

WHAT WAS THE MATRIX?: I have yet to see any in-depth article about how the Matrix went from completely fascinating to entertaining poo in a matter of three movies. Was it the trans-gender Wachowski's attempt to make his own life a form of art sapping the life of his movies, and turning it into a big ol' undergound shoot 'em up? There has to be something. Star Wars started great, got greater, and then descended into entertaining poo and then utter poo, but this can all be chalked up to George Lucas' limits as a filmmaker. The Matrix started superhigh, got lower, and then sunk some more. Perhaps this was also due to filmmakers' limits, but nobody's really advanced a theory yet that I've read.

Biochem quiz tomorrow. I'm getting some sleep.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


The Hulk: This one went a little too far off the true-to-source reservation. And it's a delicate thing, adapting a comic book to the screen--you don't want to mess with it too much. Spider-Man did just enough messing-about, making his origin more contemporary (due to genetic manipulation and not radioactivity) and condensing his powers (sticking the webs into his arms and not making him a genius chemist who becomes a photographer.) X-Men did hardly any messing about and the X-Men movies really rule. But Hulk--they really blew up the father-son aspect of the Hulk, which was always pretty minimal in the comics (or at least it was when I was a Hulk fan. God knows I haven't plowed through every issue Peter David ever wrote.) The Hulk was supposed to transcend simple Freudianism and be something more primal; the green-skinned guy really was the beast within.

In the movie they throw a sop to the comics fans by having him say "Puny human" to Banner in Banner's dream but that just gives the game away, that Ang Lee couldn't find enough in the Hulk story to let it just be as intended. And there's no Leader and no Abomination and they made Nick Nolte both Banner's father and the Absorbing Man. So your Ang Lee's Hulk is Hulk vs. the Absorbing Man if the Absorbing Man was his dad. This sort of free 'n' easy mixing up of the source material just leads to a less consequential movie.

American Splendor: I knew every line of this movie (at least the staged parts) before seeing it, due to me being a Pekar geek. I need more digestion with this one. And viewing when I don't just have it on in the background.

Shaolin Soccer: Now THIS freaking ruled. Down and out Shaolin monks band together to form a soccer team and win the Chinese national cup. The final match was the greatest thing ever. They stuck in a bunch of special effects but it looked really good; it actually looked like some of the over-the-top Chinese comics (anyone remember Jademan Comics? Force of Buddha's Palm? Other less memorable titles?) with guys shooting balls of lightning and jumping thirty feet in the air and everything. I guess technology is getting to the point where all kinds of things can happen to the big screen that could previously only be imagined in a comic book, and that includes the Chinese big screen as well.

Monday, September 20, 2004

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED: You know what is about it? Or one aspect of it? It's what I thought Challenge of the Superfriends was when I watched it when I was much much younger. Or it's what I wanted it to be. Not that Challenge was ever particularly good. Watching it today, it's hard to argue it was anything but bad. Much better than the assembled crap of the Hanna-Barbera anti-pantheon, but still not very good. Paper-thin plots--well, JLU might have that too, actually. Interchangeable characters. Absurd crimes, like the Legion of Doom taking over the world and then robbing all the banks. I mean--you rule the world. Money isn't worth the paper it's printed on, but you're carting it off by the wheelbarrow, Legion of Doom. You make no sense.

But it had a million characters that I knew from the comics so it was good. I always hoped for it to come on, and not the Wonder Twins version, or the completely unwatchable Wendy & Marvin version. (They must've all been part of the same syndication package.) Now we have this JLU thing which takes the Justice League cartoons to the next level--much like how Challenge took Superfriends to the next level. The levels were just much lower at the time.

Let me just stress this again: the characterization is absolutely spot-on in JLU. In "The Return" Ray Palmer is as competent and dry-witted as a guy in a blue suit who can shrink himself real tiny can be. Lex is a jackass at the exact moment of his victory. It's the little things like this that separate JLU from Challenge, showing how much the genre has grown. And animation in general. I can only imagine how low the standards were that Hanna-Barbera could've been an industry powerhouse as long as it was. And since Turner bought their library, those cartoons will be on in perpetuity.

Don't blame me. I watched Voltron.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

MIDWESTERN COLLEGES OF MEDICINE THAT VEX ME: With the questions on their supplementary applications. So I put them off and become dangerously close to their due dates.

A certain large public university in a certain city where Lee Iacocca may have set foot in a few times wants to know the extent of my multicultural experiences. My answer should be something like, I've worked in Camden, New Jersey for the past seven years. Your move, sparky. But something that simple is probably not what they're looking for. I think it's just scare off the cornfed heartland types who have never seen someone with a high melanin content in their lives, so--so I won't sweat it.

A certain Catholic university in a certain megalopolis wishes to know my whole friggin' life story, though they are nice about it, offering me the chance to say "Please refer to my AMCAS essay" if I feel their questions are repetitive. But they have asked questions, and I will make an honest attempt at them.

So I will get these out Monday if I want to be considered by these places. And I do.

Moving on: JLU was once again great tonight--we haven't had a clunker of an episode yet. Geek orgasm fodder was provided by about twenty cameos, including the classic Green Lantern Corps. They continue to do an excellent job of animating the shared universe of about thirty years of DC comics. I'm starting to think I'm enough of a superhero fan that I would've enjoyed it even if I didn't get every little geeky reference--and actually there were a few that escaped me this episode and I still enjoyed it. It's just the inherent appeal of superpowers.