Monday, March 23, 2009


Hey, everyone - glaring health code violations is now at wordpress!

Tell your friends!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Almost Killed Me

Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of content recently. I'm in the midst of grad school crunch time, and piled on top of the holidays, something had to give - for the last week or so, that's been this blog. I'll be posting regularly again by late next week, and once the first of the year rolls in and things settle down, regular posts and new features will be the order of the day. Hooray, The Future!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

What have I been doing instead of working on grad school admissions paperwork, like I should be? I've been building towers, bridges and simple machines from enormous, sticky, elated looking amoebas in World of Goo, that's what.

My latest digital addiction, World of Goo is one of a recent crop of games (like iPhone app Enigma) that is compelling in it's simplicity. It's a sprightly puzzle game that borrows ideas from mid-90's PC puzzlers like Lemmings and The Incredible Machine. Each level is essentially the same - your goal is to lead a small army of Goos, the sole inhabitants of each sprightly, garishly colored level, to a pipe that will transport them to a collection tube and open the next level. To do this, you turn a portion the legions of critters you've been entrusted with into structures, machines and simple vehicles to transport their brethren to the promised land.

The game play is inspired with a shallow learning curve and a lot of room for mastery. A variety of tasks await solving at the hands of skills most of us haven't used since building toothpick bridges and pasta towers in middle school science classes. Laced with with whimsical dark humor and set against beautifully designed stages that call to mind Johnen Vasquez working with Doug Sirk's palette, World of Goo is simple enough to provide a few minutes of time filling puzzle fun to break up the day, but fun and challenging enough to be addictive. Though according to the substance abuse professionals at Dutch rehab center Smith and Jones, addictive probably isn't the right term.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Unceasing Nightmare That Is... Winners and Losers

This week has seen significantly more winners than losers. But does that make it a good week? I'll let you be the judge of that. Submitted for your approval, this week's winners and losers, starting, as is becoming habitual, with the winners.

American Comedy - On the frozen tundra of Minnesota, former SNL scribe Al Franken continues to close the narrow gap between himself and incumbent Norm Coleman in the North Star States hotly contested senatorial race. The state mandated recount is drawing plenty of fire from both sides of the aisle, and this one will likely go right down to the wire. But really, whether or not Franken will make a good Senator is not the reason to root for him here. Rather, as a friend of mine pointed out, anything that keeps Al busy with something that's not writing comedy is, by default, a good thing for the world at the end of the day. So hold a good thought that every one's favorite nasally voiced progressive pulls this one out.

Disfigured Dudes - As many of us suspected, Evel Knievel was right all along - studies at the University of Liverpool demonstrate that women looking for flings find facial scarring attractive in men. Why? Because it demonstrates high levels of testosterone, a hormone long associated with a subject's overall dudeliness. And since we already know that bones heal and pain is fleeting, can an in depth study of whether glory is, in fact, forever, be far behind? Not in a world of responsible science, it can't.

Transplant Patients - Claudia Castillo Sanchez has a new lease on life thanks to a first of it's kind windpipe transplant. What's so special about this particular fleshy tube? Well, if the transplant had been done conventionally, Sanchez's body would likely have rejected the organ. But after Spanish doctors bathed the trachea in stem cells obtained from Sanchez's own cartilage, the 30 year old tuberculosis victim's body had the desired reaction; it mistook the donor trachea for Sanchez's own, and welcomed it to a happy home without complication to thanks to the staggering knuckle-draggers at budget airline Easy Jet. So let's hear three cheers for a possible end to those incredibly fucking scary trachea ring microphones, everyone!

Stoners - While gingko biloba may not ward off the effects of Alzheimer's, a University of Ohio study suggests that another herb known to work wonders on the human psyche may have one more use. Indeed, far from bringing on bouts of reefer madness, marijuana, like crossword puzzles, may fight the effects of memory loss and even promote the production of new brain cells. Take that, every after school special and guidance counselor ever!

Pygmy Tarsiers - If people thought that you were extinct, and it turned out... not so much? You get counted as a winner. Congratulations to the pygmy tarsier, which has suction cup fingers, can swivel it's head 180 degrees, looks like a living stuffed animal, and has not vanished from the face of the earth after all. Good on, little guys!

And now, for this week's loser:

The Entire Fucking Human Race – The end is nigh! Repent all ye sinners, for the time of judgment is at hand! I know sometimes it seems like everything is out to get us, but right now, it really, really seems like everything is out to get us. First of all, remember those robots in the Terminator flicks? Well, if IBM has it's way, computers that mimic human brain patterns, but, naturally, in an enhanced manner will be pulling the puppet strings of our pitiful, fleshy society sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Antarctica continues to threaten the safety of the planet by the mere fact of it's existence. Evidence of dark matter has been found by a helium balloon floating above Antarctica. While this may be evidence of cosmic beams, dark matter, or something else entirely, one thing is for sure - something (we don't know what) that's fairly close to the Earth is emitting particles that we've never seen before. While this isn't necessarily dangerous in itself, taken in conjunction with this ill-advised trek to Antarctica's ice encrusted, unexplored mountain range, this is almost certainly evidence of a coming cosmic disaster of mind-bending, flesh rending proportions. And if we can somehow defeat legions of rubbery, betentacled star spawn and mad super-computers bent on world domination, we're all probably still doomed. That's because, a few Birkenstock clad trust-funders aside, we all eat food that's covered in pesticides. A new report issued by the University of Pittsburgh warns that some common pesticides may be reasonably safe on their own, but may pose a threat to human health when even they are combined, even at low levels. So, from now on, if you can help it, it would probably be safer for you to not eat anything from anywhere, use an electronic device, or be on the same planet as Antarctica. Cheers!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back With A Boom

GHCV is back from a GRE induced break with the good stuff that readers come for - poop jokes. Enormous, sea bound poop jokes, like this footage, courtesy of the BBC, of a whale shark expelling food waste, caught for the first time on camera. Why no one has tried to capture video of a whale shark dropping the kids off at the world's biggest pool will remain a mystery, but researcher Mark Meekan was as excited as all get out to collect the footage. Meekan also collected a sample of stool from the world's biggest fish that he described as "scientific gold." To each their own, I guess.

In other news pertaining to the base biological behavior of natures most perfect killing machines, researchers working with the Census of Marine Life speculate that they may have found an isolated spot in the Pacific Ocean that may serve as a singles bar for great white sharks. The spot draws young male and female sharks from the coastal waters of Mexico and California. Once there, they dive together in what scientists think may be part of a courtship ceremony.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn... or So I'm Told.

I understand the urge to explore the last unexplored regions of the world. I do. And I get that exploring a huge mountain range buried underneath a sheet of ice is an exceptionally tempting scientific plum. But as anyone who knows their Lovecraft, this is simply not a good idea.

Nevertheless, Robin Bell intends to do just that. Bell, a marine geophysicist, will lead an expedition to the Gamburtsev Mountains later this month, purportedly to "image and to understand the ice sheet and the mountain range." And I'm sure that she doesn't want to unleash a flood of repulsive ghouls from beyond the stars upon an unprepared world while she does that. But the most basic tenets of the Cthulu mythos tell us that almost nothing else can happen when well intentioned scientists go poking their noses in places feared by the Elder Things.

Bell will keep in touch with Scientific American during her trip, no doubt until the team's last transmission breaks up amid blood-curdling screams and pleas for mercy. But hey, that first Shoggoth sighting is going to be pure media gold... for like ten minutes, until the awakened beasts rush free from their bleak prison at the bottom of the planet, turning the world into a charnel house where the living envy the dead. That's something, right?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Further Adventures of Winners and Losers

What's this? A recurring feature? I'm as surprised as you are. Without further ado, I present this weeks winners and losers.

First, the winners:
AIDS Patients - A Berlin man who suffered from HIV and leukemia shows no signs of either disease after an experimental gene therapy in which he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor. As with any good news about treatments for terminal diseases, this news needs to be taken with a grain of salt, and the results may eventually turn out be a total fluke. But they may also be a big step toward saving a lot of lives the world over. So what's the harm in being guardedly optimistic and giving this one three cheers?

Adolescent Thugs - Why are kids so cruel sometimes? Turns out, the answer may be astonishingly simple: because it feels good. A recent University of Chicago study of aggressive youths showed that, when the subjects were shown video footage of people being hurt, the parts of their brain that reacts to rewards lit up like a Christmas tree. The same results were not repeated in non-aggressive subjects, suggesting that these results do demonstrate some neurological difference rather than a 'Three Stooges effect,' in which subjects feel rewarded by watching people have a piano lid closed on their fingers because... well, it's sort of hilarious.

Astrozeneca - The pharmaceutical giant with the coolest name was a big winner this week when a study suggested that popular cholesterol reducing statin drugs like AZ's Crestor could dramatically lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, even in people who don't have high cholesterol. With sites like ABC practically wetting themselves over the study (which, by the way, was sponsored by Astrozeneca and was ended early), sales are bound to skyrocket as doctors are deluged with patients demanding they be fed a drug designed to treat an ailment they don't suffer from. And if history is any teacher, these people will get it. The only question is whether the coming drastic over-prescription of statin drugs will have any negative effects. I mean, what could go wrong?

And now for the rest of the story - this weeks losers:

Stupid America Hating Whales - The Supreme Court of the United States has issued a decision this week stating that national security trumps environmental protection. National security here is represented by Navy sonar testing that was halted by a lower court earlier this year after the sonar noise was proven detrimental to the health of local whales. According to SCOTUS, though, the whales, who have been known to suffer from decompression sickness after being driven too swiftly to the surface by the cacophony produced by sonar, are on their own. The Navy, by the same token is now free to keep broadcasting the sweet sounds of pure, uncut sonar freedom into the ocean, and you can bet they're cranking those speakers this week as they train to detect the latest generation of silent running submarines almost certainly destined for our shores right now, using pods of communist gray whales for cover.

Russian Churches - Now, I'm an avowed agnostic, if you can be such a thing. I'm also a fairly morally bankrupt guy. But even I have to draw the line somewhere, and it seems like stealing an entire church is just a bit much. I mean, really, you have to be incredibly fucking certain that there is no God to pull something like this, which is becoming more and more common throughout Russia.

The Maldives - And while a few Russian villages might have to invest in new churches, that really does pale in comparison to having to buy an entire new country. That's the situation that the Maldives, the lowest nation in the world, finds themselves in. With climate change pushing sea levels further and further upwards, residents of the island nation are experiencing a distinct sinking feeling. The solution - buy a new country and move the Maldives there! Not to be flippant about a serious situation, but, well... Simpsons did it.