Delay doing laundry until the last possible moment, until it weighs you down and seems like this Herculean task -- and then when you finally haul it downstairs and throw it in the machine it will feel like a huge accomplishment!
At the Large Hadron Collider, which finally came on line and produced collisions after an early malfunction followed by eighteen months of repairs. No black holes yet! Although it does feel like the LHC opened a wormhole in news coverage, as the run up to this morning's main event feels strangely similar to the first time they flipped the switch on this thing. And since time travel makes writers lazy, I'm just going to re-post of what I threw together the first time this thing came online:
Apparently, flipping the switch on the Large Hadron Collider was the highest profile physics event in history. That would be aside from the Big Bang, I suppose. I didn't realize that things like the experimental search for the Higgs Boson were televised, but a billion people reportedly watched the first LHC beams make the 27km rounds.
OK, so everybody now knows that the LHC is the biggest, highest energy particle accelerator. But did you also know that each time a new one comes online there are a small but vocal group of fringe critics who speculate that the thing will destroy us all when two opposing energy streams meet? Just like in Ghostbusters: don't cross the beams! The commonly cited apocalyptic scenarios: tiny black hole comes out and eats the earth; rogue strangelets absorb all matter; or basic energy equilibirum is altered, thereby annihilating, well, you know, the entire unverse. To make matters sound even worse, that last mode of annihilation would happen at the speed of light.
I wrote about all this in 2000 when the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider became operational back in 2000. At that time RHIC was the newest, highest energy particle accelerator. The article was a school assignment, which became the first long piece I ever published, on McSweeney's, under the title But Will it Bring Back the Dinosaurs? (The article was published in threeparts.)
So here is a special anniversary look back! In 2000, Brookhaven responded to critics of RHIC by commissioning a study of top physicists to explore and discount the dangers. The report and it's unvetted tittle, The Review of Speculative Disaster Scenarios, only inflamed critics because the scientists on the panel, being scientists, did not say that each of the three disaster scenarios were impossible; they said the scenarios were "highly improbable." Infinitisimal non-zero probability doesn't sound as good as zero when you're talking about recreating the Big Bang. Same thing happened this time around. Although, a new Doomsday scenario has been added: the LHC may open a gateway to hell. Yes: Satan's Stargate. Maybe there will be a Stay Puft giant after all. Interesting how times have changed: it used to be that Doomsday scientists were in standard X-Files territory. Now, in Bush's reordered Manichean, premillinial dispensationalist world, the error isn't a scientific miscalculation; it's The Revelation. For now, we can rest easy, since mechanical failures have put the LHC on hold. So it wont produce any data -- or Gozer -- until at least 2009.
P.s. In googling myself to find my own article, I discovered that this site has made But Will it Bring Back the Dinosaurs mobile- and download-friendly! Not sure who bothered to do such a thing, but whoever it is, you are a genius.
Just because the Hutaree is a homegrown Christian militia group, nine of whose members were just arrested for accumulating weapons and explosives and developing plans "to prepare for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive," by which they meant attacking the US government -- er, I mean New World Order -- doesn't mean they can't yuk it up too! Sure, the Hutaree's special Beast Watch resource page includes links explaining that "sorry, the pre-trib Rapture just isn't biblical," meaning, in other words, we don't have to wait for people to ascend to heaven from their cars and office chairs in order to begin the big battle of blood here in Earth, but there's also good old fashioned Revelations humor:
670 - Approximate number of the Beast DCLXVI - Roman numeral of the Beast 666.0000000 - Number of the High Precision Beast 665.9999954 - Number of the Pentium Beast 0.666 - Number of the Millibeast /666 - Beast Common Denominator 666 x sq. rt (-1) - Imaginary number of the Beast 1010011010 - Binary of the Beast 1-666 - Area code of the Beast 00666 - Zip code of the Beast 1-900-666-0666 - Live Beasts! Call Now! Only $6.66/minute. (Must be over 18) $665.95 - Retail price of the Beast $710.36 - Price of the Beast plus 6.66% state sales tax $769.95 - Price of the Beast with all accessories and replacement soul $606.66 - Price of the Beast at Wal-Mart $566.66 - Price of the Beast at Costco Phillips 666 - Gasoline of the Beast Route 666 - Way of the Beast 666 F - Oven temperature for roast Beast 666k - Retirement plan of the Beast 666 mg - Recommended Daily Allowance of Beast 6.66 % - 5 year CD interest rate at First Beast of Hell National Bank ($666 minimum deposit) 6-6-6.xls - Spreadsheet of the Beast Word 6.66 - Word Processor of the Beast 666i - BMW of the Beast DSM-666 (revised) - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Beast 668 - Next-door neighbor of the Beast
I ONCE WROTE A MEMO LIKE THIS ONE TO A NEW CROP OF MY INTERNS ABOUT HOW TO APPLY DRAMA TO MY FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATES. IF YOUR UPDATE INVOLVES JUST ONE JOKE, IT IS A CROCK OF SHIT. IF YOUR FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATE RELIES ON PREVIOUS UPDATES IT IS A CROCK OF SHIT. IF THE PENGUINS IN SUITS ENJOY YOUR FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATES, YOU MUST START OVER BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT DONE YOUR JOB. AND YOU HAVE NOT DONE MY JOB, WHICH IS YOUR JOB. IF YOU WANT TO RETIRE TO BEL AIR IN A MANSION SO BIG YOU HAVE TO PAY OTHER PEOPLE TO LIVE THERE YOU WILL NOT ASK HOW TO PROVIDE DRAMA TO MY FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATES. YOU WILL FIGURE IT OUT.
Me! And you! Or so I hope, as I direct you to an article of mine that is just now, after three months of research, writing, editing, fact-checking and general wrangling, seeing the light of day in the April issue of Wired magazine. So far, readers seem to like it. Here's what the Diggers have to say. If citing testimonials from Digg feels too 2005, do not fret, because Tweetdom has also begun to catch wind of Gerald Blanchard! That's the name of the the cat burglar, jewel thief, and all around criminal mastermind whose exploits are told in gripping detail (if I don't say so myself) in the story, excitingly titled The Art of the Steal!
A teaser, you say? Sure thing! Blanchard is a kind of criminal savant; as a teenager, he managed to establish himself as a local king-pin, escaped from jail (twice!), and accumulated enough money to buy a house with cash while still in high school. Later, he went on to create a wide-ranging criminal enterprise, fueled by a technological savvy that enabled him to, among other things, knock off banks in the night without leaving a trace. His was the kind of criminal bravado that enabled, to pick an example, parachuting from a plane onto the roof of the castle to steal some beloved Habsburg jewels from an alarmed case. No joke! Gerald didn't quite look the part of a criminal mastermind, as you can tell from these pictures:
Those were the early days. Later on, Blanchard got bigger, went international, and got into bigger money. Enough to pose a lady friend like so one night just for fun:
For years, Blanchard dodged authorities while escalating the sophistication and scope of his crimes. Eventually, though, he made a mistake. (Don't they always?) And that mistake was exploited by Mitch McCormick and Larry Levasseur, two small town cops from Winnipeg, who picked up a cold case on a local burglary and got a lot more than they bargained for.
Intrigued? Read the story to learn more about the high-flying career of "the world's most ingenious thief" (as Wired's hed-writers have described him) and his equally dramatic undoing. There will be excitement! There will be intrigue! You have already heard about the parachute and the jewels. What more do you want? Jet-plane getaways, money stuffed beneath burqas, police impersonations, and yachting with the prince of Monaco? Then you're in luck. Because in this story, you will find all those things. And more. I promise.
At first I was excited about this. Combine two Japanese cultural traditions -- contemplative poetic exercise and atomic age monster from the deep -- and you get humor and existential melancholy, like so:
Pretty good, right? I thought so too. Then I checked in a few days later, and discovered that this was yet another little internet phenomenon whose shark had already been jumped. And so fast! There hasn't been a single good entry since this batch. Probably because it got so popular that the site has been flooded with inferior entries. Yet again, Bearman catches on to something too late! But this is the problem with the participatory content cycle: something nifty starts up, develops a following, creating an incentive for more quality niftiness, then maybe hits critical mass, at which point the masses ruin it with low quality knock-offs. Maybe some proprietors of senseless internet trifles need to forget the 2.0 stuff, and get back to some fundamentals. I mean, if you're gonna come up with a concept like Godzilla Haiku, back it up: quality, not quantity!
Was from this party night dispatch by a couple of reporters who were just shocked to see that there were movie stars at the Vanity Fair party! OMG, was that really Macaulay Culkin and a Jonas Brother eating a shrimp roll? Yes, it was, since you are at the VANITY FAIR PARTY! Frankly, I expect better than that. If you can past that, though, there's this:
And yet, Lauren Bacall -- legend, icon, winner of an honorary Oscar, patron saint of sultry smarts in the movies -- hoists herself from a car onto the curb and passes by unnoticed. Nary a cheer or genuflection.
Bad, right? Gets worse:
This would have been merely curious instead of sad, had Suzanne Somers not pulled up behind her and elicited squeals of adoration.
Or that his last interview was 22 years ago. Or that Senate Historian Donald Ritchie has only seen him in the cafeteria a couple times in 30 years. Or even that, um, some part of the future of health care has landed in his inbox.
So this guy is just looking for a little clarity. What he didn't know is just how much the constant struggle between the very powerful European Wild Boar and African Warthog lobbies have turned this issue into a political minefield. Luckily, there's always Yahoo Answers. Resolved! (Sort of; see rating of answer!)
The Zombie Zeitgeist A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
Believer interview with Mark Allen Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
Yeti Researcher Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Panda PowerPoint! I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006 For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
Jest Fest at Skylight Books Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006 Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006 The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.