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Month: March 2007

Why is “Lost” trying to win me back?

I was done with “Lost”, I was tired of it and never wanted to watch it again, and then what did Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof go and do?

Make me care again.

You bastards!

The people behind “Lost” must have noticed that our household was getting tired of their little televised social experiment, because out of the blue they’ve started putting on far better shows than we were used to seeing on ABC on Wednesday nights. Except for a few glitches this season (like the horr-i-ble Jack-centric “Stranger in a Strange Land”) the second half of season 3 hasn’t been too shabby, with episodes like the Desmond-centric episode “Flashes Before Your Eyes” being the stand out for me this season, followed by “The Man from Tallahassee” and last week’s fun (for me, at least) “Expose” where they killed off the latest clumsily introduced members of the Losties.

The producers definitely were yanking our chains when the season started, what with the downbeat episodes of Jack, Sawyer and Kate’s captivity and Jack’s growing relationships with Ben and Juliet. I love Ben now, he’s just so creepy/weird and you really (up until “Expose”) didn’t know where he was coming from, but he’s either manipulating people to do what they wouldn’t normally do and he’s a mastermind of sorts, or he’s delusional and thinks he’s some amazing puppet master. And Juliet has evil written all over her. Just a feeling I get.

John Locke has been infuriating this season though. You can’t stop playing with computers, can you John? First Mikhail escapes because you want to play chess on the Fire Station’s computer, then you blow up the Fire Station out of stupidity, and then you kill Mikhail because he knows you were a paraplegic, and to top it all off you go and take that C4 that you found and blow up the one reliable mode of transportation off of the island? What’s your angle, John? You better pray that Penny Widmore rescues your ass, or at least your compatriots, since you’ll never want to leave the island now that you can walk.

Charlie can die anytime he wants now. After the drug storyline was done with he started feeling extraneous, like Shannon. Hey Desmond, don’t tell Charlie when he’s going to die so he won’t know you didn’t save him, okay?

Where did Rose and Bernhard go? I liked both of them and they’ve just disappeared, but of course, in “Lost” time, they’ve been gone for probably 5 days.

I keep hoping we’ll see Michael and Walt again someday. I like to think that the coordinates that Ben gave Michael when he left at the end of last season took him straight to the second island and that they’re both there. They’re probably locked up somewhere, but I wish they’d explained Walt’s weird gift with animals and drawing them to him. Guess that’ll go straight into the toilet, won’t it? Along with so many other mysteries.

And I don’t miss Eko. He had the ability to become cool, like Locke, but he used all of his street cred up with me. RIP, Eko.

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The Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookie

Oh, prepackaged moist cookie made by Chips Ahoy, how I love thee.

But you ask, why do I love you so?

Because of your very name – “Chewy”. Through some sort of chemical process which, I’m sure, is bad for you, they (being Chips Ahoy) made a cookie that “tastes” like it was “freshly made”. The Chewy Chips Ahoy cookie is like the Easy Cheese of cookies.

But my lord, I love them. I hadn’t eaten them in 20 years, but out of the blue I ate one the other day at my in-laws’ house and before I knew it I had scarfed down 6 of them, which I’m sure shortened my life by a couple of months, but then to further put myself into an early grave I went out and bought my own bag of them to keep at work this morning, hidden away inside of my desk. I’ve had 3 already today, and in the name of C. Everett Koop, hopefully that will be all of them that I eat today.

Chemically, the Chewy Chips Ahoy is far different from the generic Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookie, and within that maze of ingredients, I’m sure, is the reason that they retain their moisty quality. Is it the palm oil? Or milk? Might it possibly be the molasses or the annatto extract? Only God, and the wizards/alchemists at Nabisco know. But I will tell them, as they ought to be aware, that they have made, for me at least, crack in cookie form.

Damn you, and I love you, Nabisco.

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The Best Show on Television Ends Its 3rd Season

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 is officially done and I have mixed feelings about it. It started off with a real bang and I just loved the occupation of New Caprica by the Cylons and the ensuing struggle/escape from the planet, but once they got off-planet the show started to waver. It started off great with “Collaborators“, which was amazing and hard to watch and was probably my favorite episode of the year, but then they started throwing in the “story of the week” episodes, like “Hero“, “The Passage” and “The Woman King“. And yeah there were some exceptional episodes thrown in the mix in between the valleys (like the soon to be classic “Taking a Break From All Your Worries“), but the season just didn’t have the tight feel that the majority of season 2 had. From listening to the Ron Moore Podcasts, you can tell that the season’s storyline went through a large metamorphosis concerning the presidency/legacy of Gaius Baltar and his relationship to that sub-genus of humans, the Sagitarans. There was supposed to be a big hullabaloo in regards to Baltar shooting Sagitarans during the Occupation and how it was filmed and how Lee was supposed to suddenly come into possession of this film and how there was more to in that it seemed, but that all got sgarbageped when they realized that no one really cared about the Sagitarans (my opinion). The film was going to feature heavily into the trial of Baltar but that was also sgarbageped.

This is more just rambling, isn’t it?

The infected basestar episodes (“Torn“, “A Measure of Salvation“)were excellent in execution but made me furious when a potentially huge new plot line was discarded just because Helo had a conscience. Adama should have shot him himself. Or else Tigh could have eaten him, which I think he would have gladly done.

Tigh continues to be my favorite character of the series, and when he isn’t on screen for long periods of time I miss him. He’s a complete jerk and a drunk, but it’s priceless lines like “It’s in the frakkin’ ship!” and that little laugh he gave Helo in “The Woman King” that make me wish someone would recognize how great an actor Michael Hogan really is. But he’s Canadian and a recluse, from what it sounds like, so he may never get the recognition that I think he deserves.

Next favorite is Chief, Galen Tyrol. Everytime they want to have a heavy mythos-centric episode they seem to allow him to shine. Whether he’s coming to grips with the idea that he may be a Cylon, or trying to decipher the Eye of Jupiter, or even in Crossroads, where he and others, for some reason, keep hearing “All Along the Watchtower”, Aaron Douglas as Tyrol is great, and he plays the tortured part well.

Is it okay to think that Grace Park (Sharon/Boomer/Athena) isn’t that great an actress? Yes, it is okay. Because she’s not.

And I miss Brother Cavill (Dean Stockwell). We need more of him next season. He’s just so slimy.

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Bioarchaeology

In Florida there’s a guy named Tom Robinson, and he’s freaking related to Genghis Khan. Well, maybe he is.

Or so says some outfit out of England called Oxford Ancestors. They’re a firm that is pioneering a burgeoning field called “bioarchaeology“. It all sounds very suspect, especially given what Oxford University geneticist Bryan Sykes, the founder of Oxford Ancestors says.

Oxford Ancestors, founded in 2001, offers DNA testing to people who want to test their genetic lineage.

Sykes believes that humanity’s common ancestry can be traced through DNA. In 1994, he linked a woman in Britain and a frozen 5,000-year-old corpse found in the Tyrolean Alps, all through their common DNA.

From the AP –

Sykes’ 2001 book “The Seven Daughters of Eve” claimed that 95 percent of Europeans are descended from seven tribal matriarchs – he dubbed them Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine and Jasmine – who lived between 10,000 and 45,000 years ago. He also believes most Europeans can trace their descent to “Five Sons of Adam,” and offers tests to identify these paternal ancestral clans by mapping patterns of DNA within the Y chromosome, the genetic material handed down from fathers to sons that changes little over generations.

Published in an article in the American Journal of Human Genetics in 2003, research suggested that 16 to 17 million men, most in Central Asia, shared a form of the Y chromosome that indicates a common ancestor.

Sykes says that the obvious candidate for this is Genghis Khan, who conquered almost all of Asia and fathered many children in the process. Of course, there isn’t any actual tissue from the Mongol ruler – whose tomb has never been found – the tests are based on an assessment of probabilities.

“This is circumstantial evidence but it is very good evidence,” said Sykes. “I think it does mean that people who carry this chromosome are direct patrilineal descendants of Genghis Khan.” How this chromosome came to be so prominent was that when he conquered new territory Genghis Khan would kill the men and routinely inseminate all the women.”

Now, this totally sounds like BS. But what I found funnier than the explanation about how this man was related to Khan was his response in finding out he was related to the conqueror. Again, from the AP –

“My first impression was, ‘Oh no, who is it?’ imagining it was Adolf Hitler or something like that,” said Robinson, 48. “So I was actually pleasantly surprised.”

Now, I know Adolph Hitler was responsible for the deaths of millions, but Khan wasn’t much better. He took over the Asiatic continent, and, according to Jack Weatherford, author of “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World“, the death toll estimate caused by Khan was roughly 15 million people over 5 years of conquest.

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Churchill’s Tastes in Food and Drink

According to Georgina Landemare, 1There’s a little bit of info here about the book that Landemare wrote here. the Churchill’s private cook, the Prime Minister was a fan French haut cuisine as well as traditional English dishes like fowl, and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. He also preferred shellfish to plain old fish. He liked clear soups more than thick, creamy ones, and interestingly, he liked Stilton 2I had no idea what Stilton was, but thanks to the glorious internet you can read more about Stilton Blue Cheese here. more than sweet desserts, but, according to Landemare, he could easily be persuaded to eat any type of fish or dessert.

When it came to desserts, though, he insisted that they be expressive. It may be apocryphal, but it is said that he once demanded of a waiter, “Take away this pudding, it has no theme.” There is no record of how the waiter took the “compliment”.

When it came to drinking, though, he was very particular. He was personal friends with Sir Alexander Walker, and loved his scotch, Johnny Walker Red. When he drank brandy, he always took a snifter of Hine. 3The info for this post originally came from the highly informative winstonchurchill.org, but the page no longer exists. Here’s a good substitute.

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The Tybee Bomb

It was nearly 4 pm on February 4, 1958, when a B-47 bomber, piloted by Major Howard Richardson and 2 other crew members, lifted off from Homestead Air Force Base near Miami, Florida. There mission that day was to practice to fly tandem with another B-47 and mimic the requirements of a wartime attack on targets in the Soviet Union. These missions, striving for realism, would include an aerial refueling, a round trip of about 5,000 miles at speeds up to 600 mph and an electronic “bomb drop” scored by a ground station in Europe or North America. Often along the way the bombers, to simulate reality, would be “attacked” by Air Force fighter aircraft. This day, however, to add another touch of realism to the mix, the B-47 flown by Maj. Richardson also contained within its bomb bay an 11-foot-7-inch-long, 7,600-pound Mk 15 Mod 0 thermonuclear weapon, which wasn’t standard practice for these types of missions.

While cruising westerly over the Gulf of Mexico Richardson’s B-47 refueled as was standard practice on these missions. Upon reaching New Orleans, Richardson turned northerly and proceeded to the Canadian border in preparation for a southerly turn to begin his “bomb run” on radar scoring facility at Radford, Virginia. Richardson’s B-47 “bombed” the target electronically and headed for home. The crew had covered 4000 miles in 8 hours and were ready to rest and relax. Richardson was told by a message from headquarters that on the return trip he would not be “attacked” by enemy fighters, which added a little bit of comfort to the remaining flight.

But no one seemed to have told Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina. Lt. Clarence Stewart and two other pilots and three crew chiefs are readying their F-86 fighters to “attack” Richardson’s returning B-47. They had been given permission to attack Richardson’s plane any time before it landed in Florida.

At 12:09 a.m. on February 5, Air Defense Control radar picked up one of the B-47’s roughly 180 miles north of Charleston Air Force Base, but it did not pick up Richardson’s B-47. Ground control radar directed the 3 F-86’s to a point several thousand feet over and 15 miles away from Richardson’s B-47. Stewart, and his radar, locked onto the known B-47 and he began descending rapidly to “attack” the bomber, never knowing that he was on a collision course with Richardson’s B-47. Stewart didn’t know he was plunging towards Richardson’s B-47, as he was intently looking at his radar for fear of losing the other B-47 in the darkness, but he looked up for a second and saw the moon reflecting off the top of Richardson’s B-47. He attempted to roll the F-86 right but was unable to avoid a collision.

Stewart was able to eject from the crippled F-86, but, amazingly, the B-47 was only damaged. Upon inspection, the B-47’s crew noticed that the far right engine was bent upwards at a 30-degree angle and the right external fuel tank had been sheared off. Because of the bent engine the plane is rolling wildly. In an effort to control the craft Richardson cuts the power to that engine and then cuts the speed of the plane in an attempt to make an emergency landing at Hunter Air Force Base in Georgia. The tower at Hunter advises Richardson that because of maintenance on the runway, if the plane lands short it could cause the plane to crash, hurtling the Mk 15 bomb through the cockpit and down the runway at 200+ mph. Richardson radios Strategic Air Command and informs them that he is going to ditch the bomb in the Atlantic near Tybee Island, off the coast of Georgia. He does this and is able to eventually land the damaged plane.

On February 6, 1958, the Air Force 2700th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron and 100 Navy personnel began the arduous search to recover the lost Mk 15 bomb. 10 days later an announcement was made that the search had turned up nothing, with the Air Force and Navy believing that the bomb was buried below the water in upwards of 5-15 feet of mud. To this day it has never been recovered. 1Most, if not all, of the information for this post came from an amazing Washington Post article, “Lost: One H-Bomb. Call Owner“.

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