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.