there is water underground.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Smashy Smashy

Earlier this month the world’s largest particle accelerator went online in Europe. It consists of a ring of superconducting magnets 17 miles in circumference that must be kept at a few degrees below absolute zero. The magnets are designed to move protons around the ring at speeds approaching the speed of light, eventually smashing the protons into one another. This collision at near-light-speed will hopefully produce evidence of the Higgs Boson, one of the elemental particles of the universe that has been theorized but never observed. It’s amazing that humans have constructed something so immense in order to detect something so minuscule. The Higgs Boson is one of the strangely-named particles (it’s actually not that strange – the scientist who theorized it was named Higgs – but there are particles called the Charm Quark and the Gluon (which has to be the one that makes everything stick together)) that are described as having “colors,” “flavors,” and “direction.” These tiny little particles are thought to be the building blocks for atoms, and therefore they’re supposed to be the most basic things in the universe.

I have no idea what the hell I’m writing about, but I hope that I’m composed primarily of red gluons. Anyway, this experiment – many years and billions of dollars in the making – will hopefully reveal some more details about life, the universe, and everything. I find it interesting that there is a contingent of people out there who believe that when the particle accelerator is brought up to full capacity, it will create miniature black holes and rip the world apart. This notion – other than sounding like a really cool premise for a science fiction movie – seems absurd. But really, what the hell do I know? It’ll probably generate more questions than answers, which is the sign of a good experiment. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll give scientists some insight as to how to start working on beaming technology. But my guess is that we won’t be any closer to knowing why, inexplicably, all day Wednesday you keep thinking it’s Thursday… and Thursday comes and you’re alright again.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fucking Brilliant.

Garfield Minus Garfield. It is self-described as a "site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of Mr. Jon Arbuckle." It's completely bizarre. Without the fat cat or his foils Odie and Nermal, we are thrown into the midst of an unfinished world. And yet it somehow works. It becomes something vastly more interesting and irreverent than the original. Jon is no longer the lonely, bumbling caregiver and provider for his pets. He is downright SCARY. The concept is unique and perfectly executed. See for yourself.

Apparently Jim Davis, the creator of the Garfield comic, is a fan. Ballantine Books is publishing a collection of the "revised" comics later this year; the book is purported to have the original comics side-by-side with the edited versions.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The First Eight Thousand Are Tough. After That, It's Easy.

Only in this country would someone claim that his obsessive-compulsive disorder led him to the practice of eating at least one Big Mac every day for 36 years. Some dude from Wisconsin (of course) has consumed 23,000 Big Macs since May 1972… and he has the receipts to prove it. Using my handy calculator, there are just over 13,000 days in 36 years. Therefore, it follows that this burger fiend ate 1.75 Big Macs per day on average FOR THIRTY-SIX YEARS. At 29 grams of fat per burger, the guy must resemble an enormous land-bound dugong (or he could be one of those freaks of nature who eats and eats and never gains a pound). It boggles the mind. My favorite part is that he wrote a book about his “achievement.” The book is two hundred pages long. Given that a) he has OCD and b) he ate the same thing every day, one can imagine what a page in the book might look like. My guess:

• July 19, 1983. McDonalds in Wausau WI. Two Big Macs. Tasty.
• July 20, 1983. McDonalds in Wausau WI. One Big Mac. Tasty.
• July 21, 1983. McDonalds in Wausau WI. Three Big Macs. Still tasty!

I think you get the picture. I’m sure that the book (which he apparently typed with one finger) delves into his history and his reasons for the love of the ubiquitous burger. Of course, if it does, then I question the reasoning that his OCD was the cause for his eating accomplishments; it seems that it’s much more likely that the guy is the perfect storm: can’t cook, lazy as shit, addicted to junk food, and really boring. The OCD probably doesn’t help matters much. But my reaction was kinda like this when I heard about the whole thing: “…really???

Monday, September 08, 2008

Journey at the Center of the Earth

It's, uh... it's not a typo. They really should have gone with this idea.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

My House Used To Be A Crack Den*

Yep, it's true. I'll explain. Max, Katie and I rehearsed at my place prior to playing a private gig on Saturday night. They came over with their significant others. David, Katie's boyfriend, grew up down the street from where I currently live. Upon entering my apartment (I have the first floor of a house), he told me that when he grew up it used to be a very sketchy place with lots of drug dealers. He was visibly creeped out by being in the house where he saw drug deals taking place many years ago. Times have changed, and I've never seen anything like that in the nearly four years (!) I've lived there - the occasional marijuana smell sometimes wafts over from the neighbors, no big deal - but still, I feel a bit weirded out myself.

*I wanted to call it "House of Crack" and style the posting after the Danielewski book "House of Leaves," but it would've been waaaay too much trouble. Besides, XKCD did the best sendup of that book ever.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Dear Rudy (In Defense of Community Service)

There are ways to criticize a person and his or her record without denigrating the role that many people proudly take on every day. However, regarding Senator Obama, you said the following at the Republican National Convention: “He worked as a community organizer. What?? Okay, maybe this is the first problem on his resume. …He has never led anything. Nothing. Nada.”

You have implied that community organizers are not men and women of the people. I find it hard to believe that you would stoop so low as to insult citizens with the best intentions, biggest dreams, and – far too often – too few resources. People who want to see improvement in society and are tackling it one problem and one person at a time. People who take it upon themselves to organize, inspire, and lead others. Worst of all, you have implied that someone who does these things is unfit to have a larger leadership role, such as that of President.

To be sure, Senator McCain has endured trials that no person should ever have to experience. He is a good man, and he has given more than his share of service to this country. I don’t think there is a person in either party who would deny that. But to insinuate that the only method of service to one’s country is via the military is to condescend toward the 99% of Americans who are not on active duty or on reserve.

As a New Yorker, I am ashamed that you would consider community service as something to be scoffed at. You of all people should know that a city (which, by definition, is a large community) is only as strong as the people who comprise it. A city is bolstered by the people who do the right thing in times of crisis and in times of peace. A city is only as healthy as the people who work at every level to ensure that streets are safe, parks are clean, schools are respectable, and civility is the norm. You appear to be in contradiction with many of your party supporters who raised their “Service” signs in the rear of the convention hall. You seem to have forgotten your roots as the head of a narcotics unit, and later as the leader of a large city. You seem to have forgotten that people who are involved with their communities often go on to do great things just as often as those with military experience.

So Rudy – if I may call you that, being that I apparently exist at the lowest level of your totem pole (read: someone who aims to improve communities through education) – I have lost what respect I had for you. I have no real quarrel with your attacks on Senator Obama or the Democratic party; this is a political game and I know that mud must be slung, barbs must be leveled, and facts must be altered. But your condemnation of community service is unfair, crass, and beyond reproach. You have disappointed me and insulted many of the people whom I know, work with, and care about. And therefore, I feel justified in leaving you with the words of the late, great George Carlin (another proud New Yorker who did his community service by bringing rays of laughter to the city, I might add): Go fuck yourself. And go Mets.