Spoiler Alert

Does the Dog Die?

Do you turn off Old Yeller before the end so you can pretend that he lived a long and happy life? Did a cute pet on a movie poster make you think it would be a fun comedy but it turned out to be a pet-with-a-terminal-illness tearjerker instead? Are you unable to enjoy the human body count in a horror movie because you’re wondering whether the dog’s going to kick the bucket? Have you ever Googled “Does the [dog/cat/horse/Klingon targ] die in [movie title]?”

I imagine this is useful if you are trying to avoid tears and wailing in young ‘uns.

Funny thing is that there are movies where concern for an animal’s well-being is far from the main focus, and might be considered a little strange, like The Godfather. Or there’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which has a happy face because Indiana the dog is OK, but acknowledges that rats are torched and birds collide with a plane.

More Tubespawn

Another Twitter-cartoon marriage made possible by dem tubes: @Peanutweeter

@Peanutweeter matches kinda random Twitter posts with somewhat less than random Peanuts® comic strips by Charles Schulz.

Genius. 140 characters fits nicely into a cartoon balloon. While

I want to carry Stephen Hawking on my back, like “Master Blaster”. He’s the brains, and I’m the brawn until I get tired or he pees on me.

is funny, it’s even better when Linus says it, gesturing maniacally.

And Al Saw That it was Good

For this to make sense, you need to see the xkcd cartoon “Heaven” (as usual, click to go there so you can see the hover tag)

This being the internet (thank you, Al Gore), someone went and made this into a real game (hey, what were the odds?) Every so often, a large piece comes along and fits into the existing landscape. The cartoon is basically the opposite of Hell, of course, which also has a “playable” version

Overheard in the Lab of the Day

A colleague was whistling the marching tune one hears in The Bridge in on the River Kwai, and after I asked him if we were suddenly in the British Army, I wondered what the name of the song was. Luckily, there’s a way to find such things out, called the internet (which is apparently a series of tubes.) Turns out it’s called The Colonel Bogey March, and the Wikipedia entry implies it has some interesting (not G-rated) lyrics, which it does.

NonOedipal Snakes On a NonOedipal Plane.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

But here’s the thing: if someone asked me five minutes ago what tangled-up snakes demented checkerboards and crazy twisty surfaces have in common, what would you have answered?

This is why I love mathematics. The moment when you realize that something seemingly arbitrary and confusing is actually part of something. It’s better than the cleverest possible ending to any crime show or mystery novel, because that’s only the beginning.

There’s more wonderful doodling at her website, or on youtube. All full of math-y goodness, puns, denunciation of poor teaching, stop-action video and a remarkable lack of commas. (Does she ever inhale?)

Binary trees
Infinity elephants

You can show these to people, and it’s possible they won’t know they learned some math. Sneaky.


Finally signed up for “The Twitter.” When I first learned of it, I thought it would just be a compendium of noise, since the threshold to tweet is so low. And this is precisely why I don’t do Facebook very much — I am just not all that interested in the level of minutia of my friend’s lives, and I shudder to think they are that interested in mine (or feel that they’re missing out because I don’t post such trivialities very often). But today I found out that Steve Martin is tweeting, so I signed up to follow that.

I don’t want it to be a collection of “Boy, I could use more fiber in my diet” or “De-linting my belly button!” tweets. On the other hand, I do have these random thoughts, which I occasionally blog. That’s the kind of stupid stuff I’ll probably tweet. Probably.

Twitter: Swansontea

I understand it’s protocol to follow those who follow you, but … no. I’m not going to return the favor in order to be a statistic, or even to be polite. I am a physicist, and have no social skills. Follow only if you have some slight possible interest in the content.

Restore Truthiness, Enhance Teachiness

Any of you who watch The Colbert Report might have seen a snippet last week, in which Colbert mentioned a reddit-led push to have him hold a “Restore Truthiness” rally, as a rebuttal to Glenn Beck’s recent trip to the Lincoln Memorial. Well, since online petitions are easy, they are trying to show sincerity by putting their money where there mouth is, via a cause that is supported by several of us in the physics/science blogging community..

See, anyone can join a reddit or Facebook group or sign a petition. It takes, like, one minute and doesn’t demonstrate much effort. So the rally movement has been looking for ways to show that they’re serious, that they’re willing to lift a finger to make this happen. And an idea has just been hatched: pony up some cash to one of Stephen’s favorite charities.
Stephen Colbert is a board member of a non-profit called DonorsChoose.org. It’s a place where schoolteachers can make a request for the supplies they need and aren’t getting. As the name suggests, donors get to choose which specific teacher they want to support (lazy donors can just let the charity decide). If “Restore Truthiness” can raise a large sum of money, it will be a fantastic show of strength. And even if it fails as a publicity stunt, it’ll still make a difference in our world.

Restoring Truthiness Giving Page

(More than 2,000 donors and $80,000 raised as of writing this. Wow.)

Update: 3300 donors, and over $135k at ~1730 EDT, obliterating their goal of $101,010 by 10/10/10. In a day. Holy crap.

Update II: Colbert responds

I almost had a pregnant when I saw what you had done at DonorsChoose.org for classrooms around the country. I am humbled and honored (a rare combination for me), and find myself wishing there was a Look of Approval.