Goose the Blog 2.0

"Oh, ha! Sarcasm: The last refuge of sons of bitches!"


sorry we can't protect you

by John at 2/28/2005 09:30:00 AM

Monday, a suicide car bomb killed more than 125 Iraqis outside a government office in Hilla, and wounded more than 150. I wanted to be snarky about "desperation" and how we are getting closer to winning this war, but this is just sad.

To the people of Iraq, I'm sorry that we can't protect you. My nation's leaders have let all of us down, but you are the ones who have to pay the price for their failure.

Oscar® weiners

by John at 2/28/2005 09:11:00 AM

Summary findings of the Third Annual Scientific Oscar® Picks for 2005TM. My prediction is listed first, in red if I was wrong. The actual winner is in parenthesis, if necessary.

Picture: "Sideways" ("Million Dollar Baby")

Actor: Jamie Foxx, "Ray."

Actress: Hilary Swank, "Million Dollar Baby"

Supporting Actor: Thomas Haden Church, “Sideways” (Morgan Freeman, "Million Dollar Baby")

Supporting Actress: Virginia Madsen, “Sideways” (Cate Blanchett, "The Aviator")

Director: Mike Leigh, “Vera Drake” (Clint Eastwood, "Million Dollar Baby")

Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, "Sideways."

Original Screenplay: John Logan, “The Aviator” (Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind")

Art Direction: “The Phantom of the Opera” ("The Aviator")

Cinematography: “The Passion of the Christ” ("The Aviator")

Film Editing: “Million Dollar Baby” ("The Aviator")

Visual Effects: “I, Robot” ("Spider-Man 2")

Sound Mixing: “The Aviator” ("Ray")

Sound Editing: “Spider-Man 2” ("The Incredibles")

Original Score: "Finding Neverland."

Original Song: “Believe” from “The Polar Express” ("Al Otro Lado Del Rio" from "The Motorcycle Diaries")

Costume: "The Aviator"

Makeup: “The Sea Inside” ("Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events")

Foreign Film: “Yesterday” ("The Sea Inside")

Animated Feature: “Shrek 2” ("The Incredibles")

Animated Short: "Ryan"

Documentary Feature: “Super Size Me” ("Born Into Brothels")

Documentary Short: "Mighty Times: The Children's March"

Live Action Short: “7:35 in the Morning ( 7:35 de la Mañana)” ("Wasp")

I was correct on 7 of the 24 categories, which gives me an accuracy of 29.17%. This is well within the predicted accuracy of 22.29% +- 16.43% (95% confidence interval) - another success for Science!



by John at 2/25/2005 08:48:00 PM

You really should check out this animated short called "Ryan". It's from the National Film Board of Canada (Hurrah! Socialist movies!) and is nominated for an Oscar this year. It is also powerfully beautiful and deeply sad.

It seems to me that good short movies are able to pack as much emotion and meaning as feature length films, perhaps more. Did you ever make juice from a can and taste the concentrate before you mixed in all the water? It is like that.

Republicans and oil

by John at 2/25/2005 12:09:00 PM

There are other things on many people's minds now (Oscars®, anyone?), but over that last few days I've been reading a little more about oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Frantz Luntz wants us to call it "exploring for energy in ANWR").

While both Bush's proposed budget and a likely new energy bill both call for drilling in the Wildlife Refuge, oil companies are having second thoughts about the worth of the project.

And here are some photographs by Subhankar Banerjee of the Wildlife Refuge, taken over a period of two years. Sec. of the Interior Gale Norton called the place a "flat, white nothingness." What do you think?

Update: Here's a little more info from 1) Republicans will try to sneak a provision for drilling in Arctic Refuge into the budget, 2) Alaska Gov. Murkowski couldn't sell leases for drilling 3 miles offshore of the refuge, and 3) ConocoPhillips and BP have pulled out of the pro-development coalition.


medical malpractice

by John at 2/23/2005 09:42:00 AM

The NYT has an interesting article on medical malpractice premiums.

The recent rise in malpractice premiums far outpaces to rise in payments for malpractice claims (which actually dropped last year by 8.9%). Industry specialists think that, among the drivers for higher malpractice premiums, are poor returns on insurance company investments (insurance companies make most of their money through investments, e.g. stocks) and industry competition in the 1990s that kept premiums artifically low. Some researchers also claim that in the 1990s and early 2000s there has been only a very weak relationship between malpractice claim awards and malpractice premiums.

the beam in thine own eye

by John at 2/23/2005 09:28:00 AM

"Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Matthew 7:5

The Washington Post says that the Treasury Department promised not to interfere with illicit oil sales from Iraq to regional allies outside the UN oil-for-food program.

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 16 -- The Treasury Department provided assurances that the United States would not obstruct two companies' plans to import millions of barrels of oil from Iraq in March 2003 in violation of U.N. sanctions, according to an e-mail from one of the companies.

Diplomats and oil brokers have recently said that the United States had long turned a blind eye to illicit shipments of Iraqi oil by its allies Jordan and Turkey. The United States acknowledged this week that it had acquiesced in the trade to ensure that crucial allies would not suffer economic hardships.


The illicit oil exports took place outside the Iraq oil-for-food program, which the United Nations administered from 1996 to 2003. While allegations of corruption and mismanagement in that program are under investigation by five congressional committees, the Justice Department and a U.N.-appointed panel, the illicit oil exports outside the program have received less scrutiny. According to investigators, Iraq received more revenue from those exports than from the alleged oil-for-food kickbacks.

"The bulk of [Saddam Hussein's] illicit oil sale revenues actually came from the money he received from unregulated sales of Iraqi oil, entirely outside of the oil-for-food program, primarily to Turkey, Jordan and Syria," Levin said at a hearing Tuesday on the U.N. management of Iraqi oil revenue. "We and the rest of the world looked the other way from those sales even though they were prohibited by the U.N. sanctions regime."

Previous post on this subject


free mojtaba and arash day

by John at 2/22/2005 11:59:00 PM


men's processional

by Bill at 2/20/2005 11:36:00 PM

Well Amy and I had our first disagreement regarding the wedding music. Too bad there is no groom and best man processional, just imagine John and I walking down the isle to this (scroll down to the end of the page and click on the last mp3 sample).

unintelligent design

by John at 2/20/2005 08:52:00 PM

From a scientific perspective, one of the most frustrating things about intelligent design is that (unlike Darwinism) it is virtually impossible to test. Old-fashioned biblical creationism at least risked making some hard factual claims -- that the earth was created before the sun, for example. Intelligent design, by contrast, leaves the purposes of the designer wholly mysterious. Presumably any pattern of data in the natural world is consistent with his/her/its existence.

But if we can't infer anything about the design from the designer, maybe we can go the other way. What can we tell about the designer from the design? While there is much that is marvelous in nature, there is also much that is flawed, sloppy and downright bizarre. Some nonfunctional oddities, like the peacock's tail or the human male's nipples, might be attributed to a sense of whimsy on the part of the designer. Others just seem grossly inefficient. In mammals, for instance, the recurrent laryngeal nerve does not go directly from the cranium to the larynx, the way any competent engineer would have arranged it. Instead, it extends down the neck to the chest, loops around a lung ligament and then runs back up the neck to the larynx. In a giraffe, that means a 20-foot length of nerve where 1 foot would have done. If this is evidence of design, it would seem to be of the unintelligent variety.

You might want to read the rest (NYT).

I love you egg

by John at 2/20/2005 05:14:00 PM

Mmmm yummy! (from


of all time!

by John at 2/18/2005 03:25:00 PM

Inspired by mobile PC magazine's ridiculous list of the top 100 gadgets of all time, which includes 2 Walkmans, 4 video games, 4 pdas, 6 cell phones or pagers, and, in a stunning display of myopia, 8 (eight!!!) mobile PCs, I've decided to come up with my own list of:

The top four simple machines of all time!

1) The lever
2) The wheel and axle
3) The inclined plane
4) The pulley

A lot of people would argue that the wheel and axle is more important than the lever, but I'm pretty confident I've got the order correct. Many would also say that the list should include the screw or the wedge, but I'd counter that a screw is really nothing but a twisty wedge, and a wedge is nothing but an inclined plane. Others might want to exclude the pulley, but I say that a pulley is not just a wheel and axle plus a rope, because the mechanical advantage is gained from a pulley using a somewhat different mechanism than the mechanical advantage of a wheel and axle.

However, you don't have to agree. If you think I've left any simple machine out or have made other mistakes, let me know and you just might win a valuable prize*!

* prize of one (1) fantasy dream date with the celebrity of your choice to be awarded at the discretion of our editorial staff

this will not stand!

by John at 2/18/2005 09:21:00 AM

CNN Headline: "'Terrible crocodile of Uberaba' unveiled: Fossil offers look at Earth's ecosystem of 70 million years ago"

Wow! That sounds interesting - it must have been huge to be called "Terrible Crocodile" right? Wrong. It was about 10 ft long, and smaller than many of today's crocodiles.

Now, I'm not one to tell paleontologists how to do their work, but this kind of name inflation has got to stop. Ok, the Titanosaurs really probably were some of the largest terrestrial animals ever, and Tyrannosaurus Rex can legitimately be recognized as a kind of King Tyrant Lizard just because it was one of the biggest carnivores of all time (although it may have been superceded by the carcharodontosaurines). But the Ultrasaurus turned out to be a lot smaller than it was originally thought (the "humerus" turned out to be a femur) and the Supersaurus vivianae, while big, would have been pounded into the dust by the larger titanosaurs.

My point? I forget. Anyway, Uberabasuchus terrificus wasn't so terrible, so get over yourselves.

References: The Dinosauricon


interviews with SF authors

by John at 2/17/2005 12:05:00 AM has an interview up with Iain Banks, Scottish author. Banks writes science fiction under the name Iain M. Banks, and non-science fiction under the name Iain Banks. Clever, yes? Anyway, most SF fans know that Banks is the author of the popular and controversial Culture novels. (I say controversial, because many SF fans and writers tend to skew libertarian, and therefore free-market, and Banks' Culture is decidedly not a capitalist free-market. He's controversial in the same way the Kim Stanley Robinson is controversial.) I've read several of the Culture novels (the ones I can find at the library) over the last few years, and I think they are pretty good. I've also read a couple of his other fiction books. He seems to write thrillers that climax in somewhat explosive mega-violence before wrapping up with a dark, but satisfying, ending. Just generalizing.

Also filed under "interviews", Reasononline has an interview with Neal Stephenson, author of The Baroque Cycle trilogy that I've spent a few words reviewing over the last year. (Libertarians like Stephenson.)



by Wendy at 2/16/2005 02:02:00 PM

Robot Chicken premieres this Sunday on the Cartoon Network. The title and concept (stop motion animation using action figures) are mysteriously appealing to me, but my computer here at work doesn't allow me to watch the clip on the web site.


Something To Look Forward To

by Wendy at 2/15/2005 04:08:00 PM

Well, look what movie is coming out in October! And no, John, it has neither Orlando Bloom nor Dermot Mulroney in it.

Bill and Amy, I may need to skip your wedding if this opens on the same day.

not dead, just lazy

by John at 2/15/2005 02:30:00 PM

Meanwhile, A Day in the Life of a Screaming Banshee. We all know the feeling.


stop the madness: 30 second book reviews

by John at 2/08/2005 04:24:00 PM

Invisible Cities - Italo Calvino
Okayyy, let's see what I can do with this. Marco Polo tells his employer, Kublai Khan, about all the strange and wonderful cities he's visited in Khan's empire. Except that most likely, he never visited any of them, they do not actually exist, and Polo and Khan aren't even talking. They may not even be in the same place. High concept, short, don't try too hard to understand it. Calvino is a legend, so give it a shot.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
Here's a sort of alternate history of Georgian England where magic, long recognized and studied, but long lost to practical use, is making a resurgence in popularity thanks to Mr Norrell. Norrell is England's first practicing magician in centuries, and in his haste to find powerful friends in British government, he makes a mistake that sets in motion a series of events that will change the nature of the world. It's a good book, but it moves too slowly sometimes. It's a long one and you may have to try not to get distracted.

The Prophet - Khalil Gibran
Another short book! This is (I read) supposedly a metaphor for Gibran's journey from New York back to his birthland, Lebanon. I don't know about that, but it certainly demonstrates a marked spiritual or religious humanism, as The Prophet imparts his wisdom to the people of his adopted land on the eve of his departure. I understand this is a classic, so check it out.

Mind Wide Open - Steven Johnson
This was a really enjoyable book on cutting edge neuroscience for the layperson. Like Emergence, Johnson adds enough technical detail to keep it interesting but not so much that it feels like a textbook. It is totally chockful of really neat ideas and you will say something like "Oh, yeah. Cool!" or "That has totally happened to me" often. And if you're not careful you just might learn something, hey hey hey!

Little, Big - John Crowley
This book was a lot of work for me, and I totally slogged through the first half of it just because I wanted to like it, not because I did like it. It is a multigenerational tragi-drama-comedy that follows the adventures of a family beset by the machinations faeries. Don't worry, I'm not giving away anything. Anyway, it picks up in the second half and I finally started to actually like it, not just want to like it. Pretty good, pretty long, and guess what? The ending doesn't make any sense to me, but that is OK (I think that may even be one of the themes of the story!).

The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy - Stanislaw Lem
Oh, Ijon Tichy, what troubles you get into! Tichy is a recurring character in stories by Stanislaw Lem, the brilliant Polish SF writer (e.g. Solaris - book better than either movie, Fiasco, Peace on Earth, and many etc). This time, he is attending the Eighth Futurological Congress in Costa Rica on an angry and overcrowded Earth. A revolution breaks out, and the cops break out the psychotropic crowd-control drugs. Then it gets really crazy, and Tichy exposes a future world of "Matrix"-like layers upon layers of drug-fueled deceit. Creepy and brilliant. Lem is famous (or should be) for his word play (translating him from Polish must be hard!), which might seem a little cutesy to some, but I like it. Short, so read it, and then read some other Lem too.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking - Malcolm Gladwell
This is pretty interesting book, but it pales for me in comparison with Mind Wide Open. Gladwell writes about the power and problems of subconscious, non-analytical thinking. Hunches, prejudice, bias, reflex, and a whole lot of things like that. He does a little in the way of technical explanation, but focuses mainly on telling stories about how non-analytical thinking has affected certain people, e.g. saved lives. Thankfully, he is not slow to point out the problems with this kind of thinking, either, and yet I still fear that business managers will soon be telling us worker bees that this or that plan just doesn't "feel right" while using this book to justify their laziness to themselves.

Plum Island - Nelson Demille
My first summer-beach-thriller! Unless you count bad Crichton as summer-beach-thriller material. You do? OK, my first enjoyable summer-beach-thriller! I read it during our recent cruise. This is a story about a NYPD detective who, while convalescing on Long Island, gets involved in solving the murders of two of his friends and neighbors, who happen to be research biologists at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center. Scary terrorist stuff, or is it? It's pretty fun and fast, but a little too wisecracky for me, and the going-on-fifty recently divorced cop who is smarter than almost anyone else on the planet keeps hooking up with beautiful women fifteen years younger than himself. Nice world, if you can live in it.


back home

by John at 2/05/2005 03:59:00 PM

We're back home now, and I have a nasty headcold and a twisted ankle. The last couple of days were rough on me. Wendy is feeling fine.

I see that no one caught (or cared about) the error in the preceding post. To get from Belize to Florida, one travels northeast.


live cruise blogging

by John at 2/03/2005 06:56:00 PM

Hello from Belize!

Through the miracle of the internet, satellites, and $0.50/minute, I am bringing you live cruise news from the RCCL Chicken on the Seas.

We are about to weigh anchor at Belize City, Belize and head in a north westerly direction past Cuba, stopping only when we arrive at Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Saturday morning.

That's about all I can think of to say, and I'm not wasting time trying to think of anything else. At a cost of several dollars, this may still be the most expensive blog entry I will ever make. Heh.