Links for 2010-01-22

  • "Creation contains some vivid illustrations of evolutionary theory, and some intriguing consideration of what Darwin had to overcome to achieve greatness--in particular, his fear of disappointing his family. But for the most part, Creation is Biopic 101, earnest and over-explained. It's the kind of movie in which characters have to tell each other over and over just how important its subject is, in case we've never heard of The Origin Of The Species. It's also the kind of movie that reduces the life and work of a major historical figure to something pathetically small. Honestly, when dealing with the man who helped change the way mankind sees its place in the universe, is showing him weeping over his sick daughter for an hour really the best way to tell the story? Creation means to apply theories of adaptation on a personal level, but as it turns out, that's a far too narrow lens through which to view an intellectual giant."
  • "After recuperating from last year's press blitz, a well-rested Gilliam picked up the phone at his home outside London to chuckle his way through a conversation about Ledger's underrated comic talents, leaving Hollywood behind, and Avatar."
  • ""Yknow it's always darkest before the dawn," says me.
    "Unless the sun blows up," says Giblets. "Cause now that the sun's blown up it's just always darkest before it gets more dark."
    "Well I guess so," says me. "But even then you got the bright side a the sun blowin up, like no more sunburns an cheaper parkin at the beach an more job opportunities for our friends in the vampire community.""
  • "Before the announcement of every Nobel Prize, some guy on some blog will make a statement identical to the one I read this year: "Until Philip Roth wins that prize, it's a sham." You would think Philip Roth is this obscure genius, his mastery of the written word unheralded. Man, do people ever want Philip Roth to win the Nobel. (John Updike's death put a sudden end to similar whining on his behalf.) Does Roth speak across all cultures, get at the heart of what it is to be human, and not just white, upper-middle-class, East Coast, Jewish, and male? Either the Nobel Committee has already decided no, or they think he does and they just enjoy watching Americans jump up and down every year. "
  • "Drunkenness, hangovers, and debauchery tend to come to mind when one thinks about alcohol and its effects. But could alcohol also have been a catalyst for human civilization?

    According to archaeologist Patrick McGovern this may have been the case when early man decided to start farming. Why humans turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture could be the result of our ancestors' simple urge for alcoholic beverages.

    "Alcohol provided the initial motivation," said McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. "Then it got going the engine of society.""

  • "If R2 (I can call him that because we are good friends) was flying like that, why would that be a problem? That would be a problem if he was going at a constant speed. I re watched the end of Clone Wars (the movie) and it seems like R2 is flying at a constant speed. Why is that problem? Let me draw a free body diagram."
  • "It's staggering to consider how much one's social acceptance depends on being quadratically integrable."
  • "That last part of Ewan's comment is relevant because I suspect some students believe that the people grading their papers are giddy with glee when they find evidence of cheating.

    We are not.

    It feels much more like a punch in the gut to those of us who have done our best to help our students learn the material, and who want only to see those students demonstrate that our efforts and theirs have resulted in understanding that can be usefully applied. "


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