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Archive for September, 2012

A Very Long Holiday.


The full trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is now online. Looks solid but tone is everything. Also, it never occurred to me until watching this how much Time Bandits follows this same template.

A Stillness at Appomattox.


This settles the fate of all coming time, not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come. Shall we stop this bleeding?” The trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is now online, apparently covering roughly the last month of the president’s life. It definitely looks more than a little Spielberg-y around the edges, but I can’t wait to see Daniel Day-Lewis — love the accurate high-pitched Kentucky voice — and Mr. Lincoln’s army of sterling character actors in this. (Showing Hal Holbrook early on was a touch of class.)

The Fed, Unreserved.

“Fed action this week was also primed by the Jackson Hole conference from a few weeks ago. There, two important papers and a statement by Ben Bernanke set the tone of the future of monetary debate during the Great Recession. Let’s examine them in animated gif format.” The estimable Mike Konczal of Rortybomb explains current monetary policy through animated gifs.

The Hound Abides.

Since it’s been awhile, some gratuitous dogblogging of the old man in his natural habitat. For all the ways this year has sucked, I’m deeply thankful that the early-year health hiccups are past, and Berk’s still got his puppy energy and general joie de vivre. Shine on you crazy diamond.

RAAAAAAGE.


By way of my friend Alex of Tropics of Meta, the people in movies losing their s**t supercut, including everything from Charles Foster Kane’s slow burn to Jerry Lundegaard’s impotent ice-scraping rage from Fargo. NSFW if you don’t have earplugs, and highly cathartic if/when you find yourself of similar mind — which, this year, has been all too often.

What’s so funny ’bout Peanuts, Love, & Understanding?

Via Brain Pickings and since, despite the post above, I’m tryin’ really hard, Ringo, to be the shepherd, an appreciation of Charles Schulz’ 1965 Love is Walking Hand in Hand.

Dwarves in Rivendell.

Accompanying the release of an iOS app, several new images from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey make the rounds. (As you have probably heard, this is part I of III now, along with The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again.)

Martian Microbes and the Jovian Shield.

Under the agency’s procedures, the box should not have been opened without knowledge of a NASA scientist who is responsible for guarding Mars against contamination from Earth. But Planetary Protection Officer Catharine Conley wasn’t consulted. ‘They shouldn’t have done it without telling me,’ she said. ‘It is not responsible for us not to follow our own rules.’

It seems NASA’s Curiosity may have inadvertently brought Terran microbes along with it, which could become hugely significant if the robot encounters water, in which case they become either the potential seeds of new life on Mars and/or the 21st-century equivalent of the smallpox blanket. Er…oops.

Meanwhile, while we’re bringing life to Mars, Jupiter may have once again protected us from a Deep Impact/Melancholia-like disaster. “This is the third time since 2009 amateur astronomers have witnessed an impact flash on Jupiter. The massive gas giant, which exerts considerable gravitational pull, is something of a cosmic whipping boy in our solar system, regularly shielding inner planets like Earth from potential collisions.” So, if you’re keeping score at home, that’s Jupiter 3, Bruce Willis 1.

I feel worse already.

‘The work shows that processes like placebo and nocebo happen without us being aware of the cues that trigger them,’ said Jensen. ‘We get these responses due to associative learning. We don’t need somebody standing there saying ‘ok, now you will feel less pain’. It’s being elicited naturally, and without us being aware, all the time.’

A new study finds that subliminal cues help create the placebo effect (and its opposite, the “nocebo effect”)…although, reading the overview of the experiment here, the conclusion sounds more like: People will subliminally recoil from bad things that happen to them.

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