links for 2009-07-09

  • "Forget the cheesy narrator and hokey graphics. Wobble the camera like you're Michel Gondry filming Eternal Sunshine. Ditch the pseudo-techno soundtrack that makes the kids shake their heads at you for trying to be hip, and go for something understated. Then you might have something as good as Colliding Particles.

    The filmmakers behind this unusual web series have thrown pretty much every science documentary convention to the wind, and, in doing so, have hit on something great.(Face it, unless it's David Attenborough we can do without a disembodied voice booming over stock footage of stars and sunsets.) "

  • "One of the things astronomers had been waiting for was a supernova to go off in our galaxy. We expect about one per century in our galaxy, and we hadn't seen one since 1604! It's 2009 now, and we still haven't seen one, but in 1987, we got closer than any other time since 1604. "
  • "I can imagine no more frustrating a reading experience than the one I just had with Iain M. Banks' Excession. Is it a great novel?

    I don't know.

    Is it a good novel?

    I don't know.

    Why don't I know?

    Because I didn'tâbecause I couldn'târead the novel on its own terms. I spent the entire time awaiting the arrival of a plot that never materialized. Why did I do that?

    Because of the back cover:"

  • ""These new guidelines allow homosexuals to serve in the armed forces, as long as they don't show any outward traits that would tip us off and ruin all the fun of guessing," said Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who purports to have "excellent" gaydar. "
  • "There's a continuum of crazy in the world of conspiracy theories. On one end are the at least somewhat plausible ideas like that Oswald didn't act alone in the JFK assassination. On the other end are the downright schizophrenically crazed theories, say that the world is actually run by evil reptilian aliens in disguise.

    I'd put the chemtrail folks down toward that crazier end. They are of the opinion that the trails left by jet aircraft are in fact government chemicals of unknown but certainly nefarious purpose."

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