Monday, February 14, 2011

pretentious countries

My day was getting too productive, so I made a list of countries with definite articles in their names. Cause that's such a cool thing for a country to do. I imagine they're having arguments at the UN, and they're like, "Do you know who you're talking to? This is The Gambia!" Don't tell me that doesn't happen. Also, I spent more time explaining my criteria for making the list than making the list. So here it is:

The Bahamas
The Comoros
The Congo
The Gambia
The Netherlands
The Philippines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
The Sudan
The Union of Myanmar (that's Burma)
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The United States of America
The Vatican

I got my info from here.

I did not include countries such as "The Demagogic Republic of X", "The X Islands", or "The Xian National Authority", because those "the"s are referring to "Islands", or "Republic", or something other than the countries' own unique names.

For the same reason, countries like "Democratic Republic of the Congo" are included because the "the" does refer to the country's name. There are actually two Congoes, but they only get one spot on the list because, you know, how pretentious can you get?

I wasn't sure about "The Union of Myanmar" because "The Union of..." doesn't sound like a unique title. But it is, according to my source.

Same with "The United States of America". I thought there was a "United States of Mexico", but it turns out it's "United Mexican States". I don't know if that one commonly has a "the" attached, but if I find out it does, I will let it into the list.

"Saint Vincent and the Grenadines" is a borderline case, because "Grenadines" isn't the main name for the whole country. But I gave it the green light because it sounds like a rock band.

Meanwhile, I noticed that Wikipedia has a "weasel words" tag.
The other states section lists 10 states which have de facto sovereignty or independence but are not widely recognised diplomatically[weasel words] by other states.
Just when I thought that site's warnings and self-deprecations couldn't get any worse.

But then I thought this must be the future of writing. Imagine the courage it takes to admit you're using weasel words. Right now, that courage is merely a result of the collaborative process[citation needed][fuck you!] at Wikipedia. But one day, individuals will be free to use all the emotive rhetoric and shaky original research that's so vital to real communication, and it'll be okay because they'll have warning labels. Articles will be judged by their honesty, not their pull quotes.

I'm always looking for the next big direction the moral zeitgeist will take, and think honesty is that direction. In the age of information and uploaded brains and stuff, the integrity of information will be the highest of virtues. Speaking of which, stop calling it "human trafficing", idiots! It's slavery.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

scenes from the next house

Next Monday on Fox, how do you cure what you can't see?

What's wrong with my son??

I don't know, I can't see shit!

Where do you run when your only option is fear?

How can I trust this hospital when it can't even pay the light bill?

Well I slashed all the ambulance tires, so you're stuck here anyway.

What would happen if House went too far?

I'm not throwing away my career for your crazy theory!

Do it or I'll beat you to death!

...and tensions hit the breaking point.

Where are you?

I don't know! Where are you?

Follow my voice!

Oof! That's the wall.

Only on Fox.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

paying for sex

Hey guys, is that the conversation you want your girlfriend having after Valentine's Day? Flowers and chocolate just don't cut it anymore. This year, give her a gift she'll remember all night.

It's true: Sex inflation is going up. Buying things that will make her have sex with you is getting harder than ever. But Black Labs will keep you ahead of the game with the most unique gift idea ever.

She'll think she's the only woman in the world who has had this item bought for her.

Your unique gift will arrive in a deluxe cardboard box covered with air holes and sparkles.

These unique gifts are so hand-crafted, they're literally indented with fingerprints.

Each one comes with a personalized certificate of romance, proving the authenticity of your love.

So don't be that guy. This Valentine's Day, turn your sweetie into a crazy sex lunatic.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

holy blue balls!

Whenever someone makes the mistake of asking me about exoplanets, I go on about Gliese 581 for hours. It's a star, only 20 light-years away, with potentially Earth-like planets orbiting it. That's "planets" with an "s" because there are several of them. Each year, we seem to discover more planets around the same damn star, that are even more Earth-like. And there must be anywhere from millions to billions of planetary systems just like it, in our galaxy. We only know about this one because it's close enough to detect. And our planet-detecting technology has been steadily improving. We're going to start seeing more of these ridiculous multi-Earth-like systems very soon. That's the main reason I go on about Gliese 581. There's other wacky shit about it, but the main thing is that it's a taste of things to come.

And those things are coming. Kepler is a space telescope designed exactly for this job, and it hit the jackpot.
"The number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date [is] 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size..."
"Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized."
"There will be a before and after Kepler Era in astronomy."
Dun dun dun.

"New era" statements like that are usually ass smoke, but this guy's right. We've been discovering exoplanets since 1995, but those have been gigantic, very unEarthish ones. Now, shit's getting real. This is the stuff we've really been waiting for. Astronomy, science fiction, and anyone with any sense has had a centuries-old case of blue balls for, uh, okay, I think this is rock bottom. Blog's over.