Procrastination Station - Halloween Edition

Happy Halloween and a Merry Samhain! Here are a few links I found this morning while putting off work, party preparations, and packing for a weekend camping trip. Not many people are talented enough to handle procrastination on such a scale, so take care. In the meantime, enjoy...

A clay bowl from the time of King David has turned up in Israel. No translation yet, but the intersection of biblical history and the archeological record is interesting.

A pardon is being sought for all of the men and women who were tortured and executed in 16th and 17th century England during the hysteria-fueled witch hunts. Sign the petition and give their spirits some rest, already.

John Scalzi is channeling his election frustration into some hilarious Election Lists:
I: People/Things I Would Vote For President Before I Would Vote For John McCain
II: The Verified Miracles of St. Obama

A guide to Kids Halloween Candy Code. Very cool. I wish I'd known about this when I was a kid.

The American Library Association's list of Haunted Libraries. If I were a ghost, this is where I'd hang out.

The conclusion of xkcd's "Secretary." Cory Doctorow to the rescue!

Now on to creepy spider cakes, costumes, and other assorted Halloween yummies. See you on the other side...

31 October 2008

Procrastination Station - Thursday

Here are some things that caught my eye today and gave me a few minutes of good, wholesome procrastination time. Remember to share and help someone you love put off the things they're supposed to be doing.

If all you know about Stephen Hawking is his work as a theoretical physicist, check out this article, written by the man himself. Too bad his speech synthesizer can't be recorded with a British accent.

On this date in 1969, the first message was transmitted over ARPANET, and the world was changed forever. Via Edge of the American West.

How much Halloween candy can you haul around? If you carry a pillowcase, about 48 lbs, it turns out.

Via Dark Roasted Blend, Caves that will astound you with their beauty and complexity.

A workshop at Emory University in Atlanta teaches teachers how to teach evolution. Some of their students scream "NO!" and wonder why they have to learn about evolution if it's just a "theory." Fighting ignorance one step at a time. Are we advancing as a society?

And finally, the top 10 Astronomy Pictures of 2007. An older post but still a goodie. Black holes on Mars and visualizing dark matter. Really, too beautiful for words. Enjoy the wonder of our universe, and marvel at our tiny place in it.

30 October 2008

Procrastination Station - Wednesday

Every morning I make it a ritual to waste copious amounts of time wading through my Google Reader feeds. As a new feature, I'll be posting a few each day to share the love and waste some of your time too. You're welcome.

The moon and various planets will be waltzing together in amazing ways in the days to come. Check out their Halloween Sky Show.

Creepy Urban Legends (that happen to be true).

MTV has announced a new music site, where they've got over 16,000 videos for you to peruse. I wasted a good 20 minutes here. (via MentalFloss)

Also from Mental Floss, Dr. Aas' Miracle Poo Cure. Are you a donor or a recipient?

The always hilarious xkcd, today with mayhem of an unusual size. "I have few principles, but I stick to them."

Via Netorama, Squirrel kabobs from England. People in my neck of the woods are saying, "What the hell's so new about eatin' squirrel?"

Also from Netorama, Famous Horror Movie Trivia: Everything you ever wanted to know about Jack Nicholson's backaches.

And finally, I feel sorry for this guy, I really do. Not bad enough that everyone on the train knows about your most embarrassing moment...just wait till the news wires get hold of it.

29 October 2008

Review: The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates takes on the subject of early New England history with an insightful and sometimes amusing bent that makes it an easygoing and fun read. It’s an accessible and cool book, a Gen Xer’s take on how the puritan culture of seventeenth century Massachusetts and its neighbors still continues to inform our American mindset.

Shipmates takes us through the story of John Winthrop, a puritan minister who traveled to New England in 1630 aboard the ship Arbella with a group of true believers and a dream of creating a “city upon a hill” in the New World, a vision of America that we as a nation still espouse to this day. Along with Winthrop, Vowell includes several other prominent figures from the time: Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his outspoken arguments for the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state, Anne Hutchinson, a puritan woman gifted with a sharp legal mind and an even sharper tongue, as well as the Pequot and Narragansett Indians, natives who were forced to make room for the expanding European settlements.

With wit and an armchair style that makes the subject matter engaging and interesting, Vowell draws relevant parallels between the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s seal with its picture of a Native American holding a banner that reads “Come Over and Help Us” and our current national policy of “helping” foreign, sovereign nations with military intervention. The writing is smart, its thesis timely without being preachy. Both entertaining and informative, The Wordy Shipmates is an interesting little primer on the origins of American political philosophy.

27 October 2008

Tom Piazza Discusses "City of Refuge"

20 October 2008

Review: Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

The apocalypse is a popular subject these days – it seems like everyone has a character who is the only thing STANDING BETWEEN HUMANITY AND TOTAL ANNIHILATION. So it is with Liz Phoenix, the heroine in Lori Handeland’s Any Given Doomsday. Liz is a psychic ex-cop with some heavy-duty guilt in her past and a big mystery to solve – why is the world coming to an end, and why is she the only one qualified to deal with it?

Handeland’s story is amusing, if uninspired. The usual cast of vampires and other assorted mythological creatures show up and align themselves firmly on their respective sides of good and evil, followed by the inevitable battle to decide the fate of all existence. In the author’s favor, there’s a fair amount of imaginative mythology here. I especially liked the way she hooked into Native American folklore.

The climax, when it comes, is predictable, but in a campy, almost fun way. This is a beach book for Goths and horror buffs, trite but entertaining, eye candy for a mindless afternoon. It’s the classic story we all love of a girl who wants the bad boy, and just can’t resist even though she knows he’s no good for her. I enjoyed it in the same way one enjoys a summer comic-inspired action flick or a favorite chocolate bar: just go with it baby, and don’t dig too deep.

03 October 2008

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