Friday, November 1, 2013

Top 10 Halloween-Themed Horror movies

Greetings, boils and ghouls! 'Tis the season for me to regale you with another list of horror movie classics. You know that you like it, so stop your groaning. In the past we covered the Top 20 Horror Movies of All Time and the Top 20 Zombie Movies. This time around I wanted to tip my hat to some of the movies that embrace the Halloween season.  These are, in my expert opinion, the best of the movies that are about or occur on Halloween. There are so many to choose from. Let's see if your favorites made the list.

10.  Ginger Snaps (2000): Anything with a ginger in it is going to get top marks from me, and this ginger snaps...and bites.

9. Trick 'r Treat (2007): Four wonderfully crafted stories entwined in a deft nod to Creepshow, which amazingly just missed making the list.

8. Stan Helsing (2009): Although this wouldn’t make my list of best horror comedies, if Leslie Neilsen has a cameo in it, it has to be good, and, of course, it is.

7. Junkyard Dog (2010):  If this movie doesn’t make you squirm in your seat go immediately to your local metal institution and book a suite. Plus, you know, Brad Dourif.

6. House of 1000 Corpses (2003): Rob Zombie’s directorial debut proves the boy’s got some horror movie chops.

5. Night of the Demons (1988): With a star-void cast of tens and special effects that can only be described as “bad”, to say this movie was low budget would be a dramatic understatement.

4. The Crow (1994): Although this movie is dark and kitschy enough to remind me of Tim Burton’s Batman, Brandon Lee’s performance was brilliant in the movie that ended up being his last.

3. Halloween (1978): No surprises here, except that this isn’t at the top of the list. Loomis is easily my favorite character in this movie. We need more Loomis in this world.

2. Hell Night (1981): This Linda Blair classic is the standard to which all other teen screams should be compared.

1. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982): Even though Michael Myers is absent in this movie from the Halloween franchise, the Silver Shamrock theme song and tour de force performance from horror icon Tom Atkins easily lands the top spot on the list of Halloween themed movies.

Honorable mentions:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Getting Warmer

Recently one of my friends asked me what my thoughts on climate change were. So in a very Daniel P. Daniel fashion I crafted an unnecessarily long-winded reply to a query that, on the surface, seems like a pretty simple question: Do humans have an effect on the environment, specifically the global climate? Although my method of attack on most issues is to dive deep into the science and mathematics (you know, where the real answers lie) in this instance I wanted to keep it somewhat concise and top-level so as not to befuddle the addle brains of the conspiracy crowd, who seem to be highly represented in the climate change denier group. Alrighty then, where do we begin our voyage of discovey? Well, let’s begin at the beginning – with a cursory review of our scientific understanding of the topic at hand. Then we can get into the other nonsense.

Generally, when people bring up climate change they want to talk about one specific molecule, carbon dioxide (CO2). There are quite a lot of other molecules that affect global warming (methane, water, etc.), but for some reason people are in love with CO2. Incidentally, there are other chemicals that affect global cooling, but no one in the non-scientific community seems to care about that. For instance, smog has a large cooling effect on the environment. It just happens to be toxic to humans and is visible to the naked eye, so we try to eliminate it (mostly). Anyway, getting back to that pesky CO2. How exactly does this one molecule affect global temperatures? Well, one way is that CO2 absorbs infrared light. The Earth’s atmosphere absorbs ~150 watts per square meter (W/m2) of infrared energy. So, without getting into too much math, it stands to reason that as the concentration of an infrared-absorbing molecule increases in the atmosphere the total amount of energy absorption will increase in the atmosphere which will cause temperatures to rise globally. Not too much of a leap, is it?

In the industrial age alone we burned roughly 500 billion metric tons of fossil fuels. Why should we differentiate fossil fuels from wood or other biomass? Wood and biomass can be considered carbon-neutral since the carbon that they release into the atmosphere is exactly the amount that the tree or plant took out of the atmosphere in order to build itself. This is essentially an infinitely repeatable cycle as long as the biomass burn rate is roughly equivalent to the new growth rate of biomass. Fossil fuels are a different animal. The amount of fossil fuels that we have burned is enough to raise the global CO2 concentration up from 280ppm to ~500ppm. Some of that is absorbed by the ocean, plants and other chemical reactions, which leaves us with a net increase of ~30%. Not coincidentally, measurements taken on the carbon in the atmosphere show an exact correlation in the concentration and expected isotope from burning fossil fuels. We know the current CO2 increase is due to the human industrial revolution based on logic, mathematical calculations and chemical theories, which are consequently backed up by scrutinizing scientific measurements. Here’s something that nobody talks about: simple combustion chemistry dictates that carbon has to react with oxygen in order to form CO2 when something is burned. Thus, we should also be seeing a decrease in global oxygen levels over the same period. In fact we do. The exact decrease predicted by calculation has been measured, but we don’t really need oxygen, do we? Well, climate change deniers don’t seem to be using much anyway.

OK. So we’re pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, who cares? Not me. I was planning on drowning my kids tomorrow anyway. Plus God will eventually get around to smiting us sooner or later. However, for argument’s sake, let’s just continue with the simple science for a moment. In general it can be stated that an increase in absorbed energy in the atmosphere will directly correlate to an increase in average global temperatures. However, the planet is a quite large and very complicated organism. Anything that has an effect on it will have some amount of lag due to environmental inertia in the same way that you don’t immediately get diarrhea the instant someone sneezes in your face on the bus.  The climate has a lot of feedback loops, some positive and some negative, so the exact amount of warming is difficult to postulate. The error bars surrounding that exact number aren’t that important. Why? Because even a small increase will have a direct impact on sea levels, growing seasons, animal migrations and a host of other moderately important tidbits like that. Once the increase reaches 7°C the air can hold enough water that it will literally suck all of the moisture out of the ground leaving the Earth a barren wasteland. (Note to self: I need to stock up on vulture-feather shoulder pads and start modifications on that '73 GT Ford Falcon Coupe).

Climate change deniers often like to spout the nonsense that there is still an argument in the scientific community about whether or not human caused global warming is actually occurring. This is because they are mouth-breathing dipshits that lack the ability to think critically. Since January 1st 1991 over 14,000 articles have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals relating to and supporting the idea of global climate change. Of those 14,000 or so articles, exactly 24 dispute that the current climate change is human-related. Twenty-four. Out of 14,000+. Any idea who funded those 24? This cuts to the quick of the denier’s argument. Is there in fact a global conspiracy by tens of thousands of financially unconnected climatologists, geologists, physicists, biologists, oceanographers, chemists, and local weathermen to create a better, more stable, sustainable, less polluted planet that supports human health and well-being, or are there a few very large and very politically influential energy corporations that stand to lose something if the general public stops buying their products? OOH! PICK ME! I KNOW THIS ONE! Any semi-literate individual has to ask themselves the question: why do non-scientific people that are not climatologists have an opinion on this topic at all? I'll give you a little example. Try saying the following next time you’re stuck in a conversation with one of them, “I see you’re well informed on the conspiracies supported by so-called ‘scientific literature’. What’s your take on the controversial finding that phthalimides with trimethylsilyl-substituted alkynes can undergo decarbonylative alkylidenation over a nickel catalyst? Oh, I’m sorry, what was I thinking?!? I meant to ask what you thought about Bigfoot and vaccines.” Smell what I'm stepping in? I recently read an article that showed that climate change deniers were more likely to believe in any conspiracy theory handed to them than critical thinkers. They also happen to be more religious and have poor critical thinking skills. Hrmmm, imagine that. 

Let’s get even more simplified. No, there is no conspiracy or disagreement among scientists. Yes, humans have an effect on the climate. What the exact meaning of that change will be for the human race can be intelligently discussed, depending upon present company, of course. However, let’s grant the idiots’ premise for a moment. Let’s say that this is just another global burp that has nothing to do with humans at all – that the current rise in temperatures is just Earth being Earth over geological time. Nothing that we can do about it. Well, then why the fekk aren’t we moving away from coastlines, building effing biodomes, underwater cities, crops that can grow without water, or some other kind of life raft that will save us when the icecaps melt or when the next ice age comes? The answer is that most people really don’t care what happens to the human race in the future as long as it doesn’t happen to them now. They just like to have uneducated opinions about things without extrapolating what the long-term consequences or solutions might be. It sucks, but it’s true. On that note I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my heroes:

There exists in society a very special class of persons that I have always referred to as the Believers. These are folks who have chosen to accept a certain religion, philosophy, theory, idea or notion and cling to that belief regardless of any evidence that might, for anyone else, bring it into doubt. They are the ones who encourage and support the fanatics and the frauds of any given age. No amount of evidence, no matter how strong, will bring them any enlightenment. They are the sheep who beg to be fleeced and butchered, and who will battle fiercely to preserve their right to be victimized.James Randi

Extra credit - some references and useful articles for your brain: 
  3. Lewandowsky, S. (2011). Popular consensus: Climate change set to continue. Psychological Science, 22, 460-463. 
  11.  Geophysical Research Letters (DOI 10.1029/2002GL014687)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why the Internet Was Invented, Vol. 14

Finally, the internet got a little weird again this month. Enjoy, but enjoy in moderation. You have been warned.

  1. I would totally ride these...once...maybe.
  2. This is the scariest thing I have ever seen. Gives me chills just thinking about it.
  3. Why not take an interactive, slightly unnerving first date before you get out there?
  4. I guess I am human after all.
  5. This is an excellent spoken-word piece. Do yourself a favor and listen to it.
  6. Here is a great presentation about how rich people DO NOT create jobs.
  7. The world is a much better place if you are not too bright for it.
  8. Drink it now! It's Earth juice!

  1. You should definitely check here first if you are looking for Wet Beaver.
  2. If you are ever frustrated with your coworkers, just go here and be thankful you don't work with these guys.
  3. This is generally how I picture all cat owners.
  4. I'm not sure why, but this is disturbingly addicting.
  5. This just about sums up the entire internet, and it is awesome.
  6. Sadly, I've spent way too mush time on this.
  7. I know this is going to be weird for me to say, but this site is actually quite useful.
  8. Waaaait for it...Waaait for it....What the?
  9. Here is a website after my own heart.
  10. This is the panic button I have been needing in case of emergencies.
  11. OK. Be warned. This is weird, and don't blame me if you waste 5 hours on this site.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why the Internet Was Invented, Vol. 13

Take a look at some of the internet gems this month. I promise I'll try to find the weird part of the internet again one of these days.

  1. This guy has got to be a community college teacher.
  2. Women, don't cover up your lady prizes.
  3. This is what we have to look forward to.
  4. Somebody had way, WAY too much time on their hands.
  5. Come pick up all of your floor bags, you ain't livin' in Southeast Asia.
  6. The ABC's of Death, a great claymation short.
  7. This is one way to get people to watch your boring-ass how-to videos.
  8. Here is the latest installment to the People Are Awesome series.
  9. Ever seen Manhattan pile into the ocean? Either has anyone else, until now.
  10. All of these NonStampCollector videos are hilarious. Do yourself a favor and watch them all.

  1. How Japanese kids learn to multiply. It's not as dirty as it sounds.
  2. Worried that your backyard bunker isn't ideally situated for a 100MT nuclear blast in Topeka? Worry no more, weirdass.
  3. Although less that 1% of known species are shown here, this is still a pretty cool visualization. I dare you to get this tattooed on your face, hipster.
  4. Lesson #253: Never tell the people of the internet what not to do.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Why the Internet Was invented, Vol. 12

Another slow month for links.  I was too busy doing nothing to do the nothing that I usually don't do.  Happy New Year, Everybody.

  1. I don't know whether it is sad or good that I only recognize ~25% of these songs.
  2.  A great MTV smackdown on the younger generation.
  3. How to annoy a misanthrope with your shitty pictures.
  4. Take two and call me...never.
  5. The Voice does an excellent tribute for the Connecticut shooting.

  1. I'm not exactly sure why this exists, but you're welcome.
  2. Although this is just a simulation, it still gives you a good idea of where we are in the U.S.
  3. This is an absolutely amazing interactive news article about the avalanche at Tunnel Creek.