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May 27, 2012

Overnight Open Thread (5-27-2012)

Well since the cobloggers have already done such a good job covering Memorial Day topics  and I'm kinda tired after cleaning all day, tonight's going to be mostly a movie night.

And tonight's feature is The Andromeda Strain (1971). The original good one - not that POS that appeared a few years ago.

Andromeda Strain

After a US government satellite crashes near the town of Piedmont, New Mexico, a microbe attached to the satellite kills all but two of the town's inhabitants - a sixty-two-year-old man and an infant. Some of those who died show signs of having first gone mad. The mechanism of death is massive clotting and granulation of every drop of blood in their bodies. An elite scientific team takes the satellite into a secret underground laboratory in the Nevada desert, known as the Wildfire Complex, in order to study it. The new life form is assigned the code name Andromeda. Within a couple of days the microbe mutates into a form that degrades synthetic rubber gaskets and thus escapes containment.

This was based on the excellent book, The Andromeda Strain, which was Michael Crichton's first novel which he wrote while in Harvard medical school. Even though though the movie and book are now over 40 years old other than a some dated technology and references it still holds up quite well. Crichton knew his science and really did have a good vision of where technology was going.

One thing I liked about the book was that it included graphs, print outs, and even had footnotes. I tried one time to track down the footnoted references but either they were old enough that the university library no longer kept them or they were just made up as part of the book itself.

The film is very well done and stays very faithful to the book. In particular the editing is very tight so the story moves right along, never drags, and doesn't waste time doing needless exposition. I also liked the fact that the scientists were actually smart (as opposed to movie-smart where they act like jerks and spout gibberish) but also made mistakes and went down blind-alleys at times.

It's also a refreshing change from modern movies to see the military characters treated as smart and competent as well and not lazily made out to be the enemy e.g. Outbreak. Here the real enemy is the bug itself and it's a race to see whether the humans can find its weakness using the two survivors in time to prevent annihilation.


And here is part one of 13:

And here are the rest:

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Hat tip to Harvey at IMAO for reminding about this movie.

The Modern Pauline Kael Syndrome

Pauline Kael was the influential film critic for New Yorker from 1968 to 1991 who supposedly stated after Richard Nixon's 1972 landslide victory, "that she 'couldn't believe Nixon had won', since no one she knew had voted for him." Well it turns out that what she actually said was this:

I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don't know. They're outside my ken. But sometimes when I'm in a theater I can feel them.

Which is a more nuanced quote that shows that she lived in a bubble and was quite aware (and satisfied) that she did. Well plus a change...here's a recent quote by New Yorker writer, John Cassidy:

In my neck of artisanal, hormone-free Brooklyn, the latest CBS News/New York Times poll, which shows Mitt Scissorhands leading "The First Gay President" by three points, landed with a nasty thud. "I can't believe he might lose," my wife said when she spotted the offending numbers on the Web. "People are really willing to vote for Mitt Romney? They hate Obama so much they'd vote for Romney?"


9 Childhood Rules Best Forgotten by Adults

Wives' tales that continue to live on...

  1. Never go swimming after eating.
    Truth: The American Red Cross reports that there is no increased risk in cramping if you've consumed food prior to swimming.
  2. Chocolate causes acne.
    Truth: No food type causes zits, although too much of any food is not good for the body.
  3. Eat carrots, have great vision.
    Truth: I can speak to this one directly. Mom fed me so much baby carrot food that I turned jaundiced. And I've worn glasses since the 4th grade.
  4. If you crack your knuckles, you'll get arthritis.
    Truth: Not true, although my thumb joint wonders sometimes . . .

Actually carrots for good vision is a propaganda story spread by the British government during WWII to cover up the existence of radar and Engima decrypts and explain away the undue success of the RAF.

Want To Be Disgusted?

Two words: Brain Tapeworms


The Mongols! - The Short Version

So how did a small band of herders who occasionally engaged in some light hunting-gathering become one of the most formidable fighting forces in the world in the space of 25 years? This video explains.

What is the world's oldest in-use writing system?

Turns out to be either Chinese or Hebrew depending on how carefully you define 'in-use':

Chinese writing is attested from around 1250 in the oracle bone inscriptions (all dates here are BCE, and approximate). But the near-certain origin of the alphabet, in Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite writing, is no later than 1700. (We won't count the much older Egyptian system that inspired this alphabet.)


Weekly AoSHQ Commenter Standings

Top 20 commenters:
1 [754 comments] 'Niedermeyer's Dead Horse' [105.83 posts/day]
2 [299 comments] 'Robert'
3 [288 comments] 'Jimbo'
4 [288 comments] 'AllenG (Dedicated Tenther) Channelling Breitbart'
5 [275 comments] 'Jane D'oh'
6 [251 comments] 'garrett'
7 [238 comments] 'chemjeff'
8 [237 comments] 'Vic'
9 [236 comments] 'Tammy al-Thor'
10 [231 comments] 'nevergiveup'

Top 10 sockpuppeteers:
1 [58 names] 'Adriane' [8.14 unique names/day]
2 [44 names] 'kbdabear'
3 [39 names] 'andycanuck'
4 [38 names] 'Cicero'
5 [38 names] 'Scobface'
6 [37 names] '18-1'
7 [30 names] 'Beefy Meatball'
8 [28 names] 'toby928?'
9 [25 names] 'Truck Monkey'
10 [22 names] 'Jared Loughner'

The group. Yeah.

Where it's at - the Twitter

Tonight's post brought to you by sacrifices:

life magazine photo of marines in vietnam

Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.

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