Skip to content

Category: Elsewhere

Groundhog day is coming

Still image from the movie Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray and the groundhog driving a car.

The big day is right around the corner! By this time next week, groundhogs (and other weather-predicting rodents, mammals, or otherwise) all over North America will emerge from their dens and tell the rest of us how much more of this winter we have to endure.

Aside from dusting off your copy of the Bill Murray classic, you may want to get ready for the big day by visiting for all your groundhog related information needs.

Pet project of a good friend and coworker, the website features a list of active weather-predicting groundhogs, a comprehensive history of groundhog day, a mountain of prediction data going back to Punxsutawney Phil‘s first prediction in 1887, a map view so you can find the groundhog closest to you, and profiles of all these adorable little creatures.

And while they’re not all groundhogs (alternative groundhogs!), they’re not all alive, and some are just a person in a groundhog suit, they all bring a little levity and joy to a cold and dreary time of year, and who couldn’t use a bit of that.

GQ: The Day The Movies Died

Everything that’s wrong with Hollywood:

With that in mind, let’s look ahead to what’s on the menu for this year: four adaptations of comic books. One prequel to an adaptation of a comic book. One sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a toy. One sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on an amusement-park ride. One prequel to a remake. Two sequels to cartoons. One sequel to a comedy. An adaptation of a children’s book. An adaptation of a Saturday-morning cartoon. One sequel with a 4 in the title. Two sequels with a 5 in the title. One sequel that, if it were inclined to use numbers, would have to have a 7 1/2 in the title.1

And no Inception. Now, to be fair, in modern Hollywood, it usually takes two years, not one, for an idea to make its way through the alimentary canal of the system and onto multiplex screens, so we should really be looking at summer 2012 to see the fruit of Nolan’s success. So here’s what’s on tap two summers from now: an adaptation of a comic book. A reboot of an adaptation of a comic book. A sequel to a sequel to an adaptation of a comic book. A sequel to a reboot of an adaptation of a TV show. A sequel to a sequel to a reboot of an adaptation of a comic book. A sequel to a cartoon. A sequel to a sequel to a cartoon. A sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a cartoon. A sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a young-adult novel.2 And soon after: Stretch Armstrong. You remember Stretch Armstrong, right? That rubberized doll you could stretch and then stretch again, at least until the sludge inside the doll would dry up and he would become Osteoporosis Armstrong? A toy that offered less narrative interest than bingo?

Read More


This week’s awarding of the Nobel Prize in medicine to Robert Edwards for his role in developing in vitro fertilization has thrown a spotlight on the religious right’s deeply offensive stance on this amazing advance in medical science.

Since it was developed, in vitro fertilization has been responsible for the births of over 4 million children. That’s 4 million children that would otherwise not have been born to desperate parents robbed by nature of the ability to have children on their own.

The Vatican continues to speak out against this miracle technology based on anti-scientific delusions about the spiritual properties of a blob of cells and something about IVF separating conception from the “conjugal act.”

Now in USA Today’s Faith and Reason section, Cathy Lynn Grossman takes this thinking to an offensive extreme asking:

“Do you think a baby conceived in test tube is still a child in the eyes — or mind or hands, depending on your theology/philosophy — of God? Does the science behind this merit the Nobel Prize for Medicine or condemnation in the realm of faith and ethics?”


“Do you think a baby conceived in test tube is still a child in the eyes of God? Does the science behind this merit a Nobel Prize, or ethical condemnation? And what about the parents? Is their IVF choice selfish or loving? Are they creators — or merely shoppers?”

It is incredibly offensive and disturbing that somebody would consider questioning a child’s status as a human being because of how they were conceived. What, because my parents did it the old fashioned way, I am granted a soul while a child born of IVF is less of a person in the eyes of god? What a horribly offensive proposition.

Why Priests Hire Male Prostitutes

Mike Jones, the male escort that outed Ted Haggard, on why so many priests hire male escorts:

During the 1990s, when I worked as an escort in Denver, Colorado, I estimate at least 15 percent of my clientele were clergy or connected with the church in some way. There were one-timers and there were guys who came back again and again and again, and they were all the same: positively giddy when the encounter began, unable to look you in the eye as they left. The excitement that initially animated them was wholly overshadowed by the despondency and guilt that would overcome them as soon as it was over.

I can’t imagine the guilt they were feeling. Not only were they having sex with another man—a sin punishable by God, in their minds—but I believe many of them were doing exactly what Father Gray did: stealing from their own churches. Maybe not a million bucks, maybe not even so much that anyone would notice. But more than once I was paid for my services with a handful of crinkled ones and fives. I would think to myself, how could they take from their own church’s collection plate? The answer is simple and sad: addicts will do whatever they need to do to support their habit.

…and on how to tell if your pastor is gay:

What I also discovered is that there are usually plenty of clues to be found when someone is doing something on the sly, whether it’s sleeping with male escorts or stealing from their church’s coffers. But people don’t want to know that about their religious leaders. Many want to turn a blind eye, even when the truth is staring them right in the face. When I attended Haggard’s New Life Church after the scandal broke, I was amazed to see all the explicitly homoerotic statues and paintings—sculptures of nude, muscular men all over the place. I also noticed that all the people on stage where Ted would preach were young men—not a female in sight. I was later told that Ted picked out all the art work and the final decision as to who was on stage lay with him.

via Why Priests Hire Male Prostitutes, By Mike Jones – The Daily Beast.

A suggestion for the Pope

PZ Myers has a suggestion for the Pope in regards to his “outrage” over the Belgian raids of Catholic church offices:

He’s doing everything all wrong. Here’s what he should be doing: he should be calling the actions of priestly sex abusers deplorable and wrong, and insisting that the church will do everything in its power to correct the deep problems that have led to these awful acts. Then he should announce that the church will cooperate fully with all legal secular actions — and the Belgian raids were fully authorized by the Belgian state — in getting down to the heart of the matter, and go even further, offering to open up all relevant records to inspection. Then I might be convinced that the church is sincere in its pursuit of justice for all, not just its priests, but also its parishioners.

via Pharyngula.

Elsewhere: When Fat-Free Makes No Sense

…or Why I NEVER Buy Reduced Fat Sour Cream!  From the always great Fooducate Blog:

Regular’s Ingredients [3 of them]:
Cultured pasteurized grade A cream and milk, enzymes.

Fat Free’s Ingredients [12]:
Cultured Lowfat Milk, Modified Corn Starch,Whey Protein Concentrate, Propylene Glycol Monoester, Artificial Color, Gelatin, Sodium Phosphate, Agar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Citrate, Locust Bean Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate.

When something as simple as Sour Cream is re-constructed in a science lab, something is definitely lost (and a helluva lot of chemicals gained).

More “Web-Like”

Jason Kottke on Steve Jobs’ Thoughts on Flash:

Jobs sort of circles around the main issue which is, from my own perspective as heavy web user and web developer: though Flash may have been necessary in the past to provide functionality in the browser that wasn’t possible using JS, HTML, and CSS, that is no longer the case. Those open web technologies have matured (or will in the near future) and can do most or even all of what is possible with Flash. For 95% of all cases, Flash is, or will soon be, obsolete because there is a better way to do it that’s more accessible, more open, and more “web-like”.