I can’t be the only one who thinks this

I haven’t watched South Park in a long time, but I understand the latest controversy is that they blanked out an innocuous, brief portrayal of Mohammed, and everyone is saying the network caved under pressure. Michelle Malkin and her fellow right-wing nutjobs are embarrassingly hysterical over it.

People, it’s a cartoon that intentionally tries to drum up shrieks of outrage…it tries so hard that I’ve lost interest in it. I can’t possibly be the only one who thinks this whole affair was done on purpose by the creators, can I? If you think this episode is significant, you’ve been played.

My musical taste might differ from yours

The Folk Era was a special time in America, a time of innocence, when people sang Kumbaya and really meant it. When banjo music got airplay and Burl Ives had groupies. No one knows what caused the folk era, and scientists are studying what can be done to prevent it from ever happening again.

The nice people at royzimmerman.com have sent me another CD, The Best of the Foremen. They tell me this group was especially popular with biologists (I can see it—songs about wallowing in whale guts and what we euphemistically call “firing the Surgeon General” are always well received by us), and that SJ Gould had them play at his wedding. I can’t argue with Gould! Not any more at least.

Self-mocking folkies are always fun to listen to. Check ’em out.


In the rural fastness of Western Minnesota, a legend grows. A man so nerdly that his infamy spreads far and wide; when people see shell-less molluscs, his name leaps to their lips; when geeks and nerds gather, they all whisper the same thing: “Pee-Zee” (or, as the Canadians and Dr Who fans would say, “Pee-Zed.”)

Yes, in yet another of a string of geek honors, I have been invited to the GeekProm, to be held in the Science Museum of Minnesota on 22 April. There will be spaz-dancing, cow-eye dissections, and a talent show, and some couple will be crowned King and Queen Geek.

Obviously, I deserve to go to this. What you may not realize, O Unsuspecting Readers, is that by reading this site you too are now fully certified Geeks and Nerds. Sorry about that, but it is infectious, and you have only yourselves to blame. I’m also afraid that there aren’t any scientists interested in working on a cure, so you’re just going to have to live with your punishment…and show up to out-spaz me on the dance floor.

See you all there.

I guess nobody likes Bruce Willis

So…I went to that Bruce Willis movie I mentioned earlier. It was OK, a rather predictable cop thriller in which he does his usual schtick of getting beat up and bloodied and shot, while still defeating the bad guys at nearly every turn—but at the same time he doesn’t do the hokey super-cop stuff we saw in the Die Hard movies. At least I was pleasantly surprised, as I went in to it with low expectations.

I mentioned that we usually don’t have a problem with obnoxious people here, though, and that was true tonight, but for a different reason: I was the only person at the movie.

There I was, front row center, in a lovely old art deco movie theater, big screen, popcorn, the works…and it was all just for me. It was much nicer than you’ll get with your usual home theater set up.

The virtues of the small town movie theater

Kung Fu Monkey has an excellent rant about the theater experience, and how it is ruined by loudmouths and cell phones.

I just have to say that since I moved to Morris, I love going to the movies. I’ll even go to bad movies. And it’s all because the ambience has completely changed. Rogers recommends bringing back real ushers to silence the kibitzers and chatterers and inconsiderate babblers, but we’ve got something better: everyone in the theater knows everyone else. Nobody gets to make a public nuisance of themselves and then vanish into the anonymity of the crowd.

He’s exactly right. The community experience, the ability to just watch a movie and enjoy it, is the number one factor that has me going back over and over again, even when they’re showing garbage on the screen. I mean, seriously, I’m actually considering going to the theater this week to watch that lame Bruce Willis vehicle, 16 Blocks. I don’t even like Bruce Willis movies.

Get that heathen some popcorn


I know that Steve Allen was a lifelong skeptic and freethinker, but was he also a squid worshipper? How else to explain this sign?

Through the Center for Inquiry in LA, which hosts that Steve Allen Theater, there’s also a very useful list of dramatic productions of interest to freethinkers, including everything from Agnes of God to Zardoz (sorry: Red Dawn didn’t make the cut). Any college students interested in subverting their university’s film series might want to recommend some of the movies from this list. Or you might just try adding all of them to your Netflix subscription.

The SF fanboy stirs again

More SF indulgence, excuse me: Gary Farber has been reading Heinlein’s rediscovered “first” novel (brief summary: it’s very bad), and Kevin Drum raises the question of correlation between early SF preferences and later political biases, with Heinlein inspiring conservatives and Asimov motivating liberals (Drum says, “Well, I liked ’em both, but I liked Heinlein more and I turned into a liberal.” I’m not touching that straight line.)

I disliked Heinlein’s stuff intensely. It was badly written, with a patronizing tone, and always smugly assumed that his simplistic opinions were absolutely true. Even his juveniles were irritating in that way, but those self-indulgent later doorstops with old men waited on by nubile vixens? Gah.

I also wasn’t a big fan of Asimov. He was OK, but those gimmicky stories didn’t do much for me.

My favorites began with Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne—I was very old school. As I began to branch out in grade school looking for new stuff, after gagging over Heinlein and being bored by Asimov, I really got into Ray Bradbury. Later I favored a collection of British authors—Brunner, Wyndham, Moorcock—and then Harlan Ellison, Fritz Leiber, anybody who could actually write, a talent that eluded the old guard. Nowadays I lean towards Banks and Mieville.

I don’t know what that says about how my political inclinations were shaped. I think the stronger correlation is with my utter apathy towards engineering, not my politics.