Monday, August 22, 2011

Blowing Up the Blog

Three years into this blog and I've developed a bit of internet wanderlust. I started this to keep in touch with friends and family when I moved away to grad school. While it has continued to fulfill this function, it has since developed into a way for me to work on non-scientific writing. To continue this development, I think its time for a change. I'm not going to stop blogging. I'm just going to stop blogging here.

In the last few months I've been putting off any real writing in favor of various academic projects and a much needed vacation. Returning after such a long break I find that that I'm not entirely satisfied with what I've done here. My first instinct is to delete everything and start over from scratch. But given the time I put into this, and the continued interest in some of the individual posts, I'm going to leave this particular blog here and start again somewhere else.

I'm not sure what direction my new blog will take. The type of content will probably be similar, but I have some ideas about changing up the style of posting. Regardless, the link to new blog is below:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back Again

Apparently this thing gets the same number of hits whether I update it or not.

Anyway, my project is (96%) complete. I defended it successfully, but there a few revisions that I need to complete in the next few days. Nothing major, this is a standard part of the process. In the next few weeks, I dive into the publication process as I start the process of submitting the manuscript to a journal.

I’m going on vacation next week, so posting won’t pick back up for awhile. I’ll backlog some stuff, but I don’t expect to start averaging a post a day until September or so.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Posting will be on hiatus until further notice.  A higher authority (my boss) has dictated that my project is due in 3 weeks instead of in 10.

EMA- Grey Ship

I was planning on making a mix of my favorite music of the year so far, but I'm losing interest in 8Tracks.  So instead, I'm going to just post some streaming links.  This way I'll get to talk a little about each song and link to some neat stuff by each artist.

First up is "Grey Ship" by EMA.  This is probably my favorite song off her solo album and is definitely the most ambitious.  Its about five songs in one and all of them are really good.  The album has received a lot of attention, but I still think its rather underrated.  This is based on absolutely nothing, but I'm guessing her next album will be a gigantic breakout hit.

EMA- Grey Ship

Though I hadn't heard of Gowns before I listened to the EMA album, I've since become a retroactive fan.  Given that EMA was in Gowns, it makes sense that they have a very similar sound.  Gowns' sound is probably more ambitious, but I think the EMA album is more listenable.  Hopefully as more people hear the EMA album, more attention will be given to both projects.

Gowns- White Like Heaven

Friday, June 17, 2011

Alan Moore's Killing Joke

Somehow in my discussion of the Barbara Gordon/Batgirl fiasco, I neglected to mention the story that started the whole thing.

Though the legacy of The Killing Joke is most resonant with Barbara Gordon, they actual story is really about the origin of the Joker and the line between him and Batman.  Barbara Gordon is only in a single sequence and what happens to her only happens to motivate the actions of other characters.  I don't hold this against the story itself.  The world portrayed in The Killing Joke is full of tragedy and nihilism.  When reading it again, I was struck by how different it is tonally than all the Batman comics published before or since.  Though some horrible things happen in the book, it feels like the book really takes place in its own little world, independent of the rest of DC's output.  With all that in mind, its surprising that the story eventually become "official" with the Joker's origin and the injuries to Barbara Gordon being carried over into the other titles.

Ad Nonsense

Apparently my Adsense account was disabled last night.  I'm actually not sure why.  It doesn't matter though, having advertising on here made me uncomfortable anyway.  Consider that experiment ended.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How Research Works: 42


What is the answer?

To life, the universe, and everything?

No.  Where is the coffee machine?


They took the coffee machine because of budget cuts didn't they?!

Um... 42?

Batgirl Returns

An interesting aspect of this whole DC comics reboot hullabaloo is that Barbara Gordon is apparently returning to the guise of Batgirl.  Normally I wouldn't really comment on a fictional character becoming another fictional character like this, but Barbara Gordon as Batgirl is something of a special case.

For the last 20 years, Barbara Gordon has been a highly visible character in a great many of DC's superhero books.  However, barring the occasional flashback issue, it hasn't been as Batgirl, but as Oracle. As Oracle, Barbara Gordon has led superhero teams, fought all sorts of supervillians, and anchored one of DC's most consistently good books.  Significantly, she did all this after surviving an attack that left her paraplegic.  Thus making her the only visible DC superhero with a physical handicap.

Green Lantern: Awful?

Yikes.  Green Lantern is already getting hammered in the reviews.  The majority of the reviews aren't in yet, but a less than 30% on Rotten Tomatoes?  Looks like Warner Brothers might have another Jonah Hex on their hands.

This "report" sums up my general feelings about how misguided the whole endeavor is.  Forgetting my own distaste for Green Lantern and the fact that the movie looks awful, Hal Jordan just doesn't have the popular appeal to justify a big summer blockbuster.

No.  I will not be paying money to see this.

'Green Lantern' To Fulfill America's Wish To See Lantern-Based Characters On Big Screen

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recipe in Progress: Easiest Salad Ever

Easiest Salad Ever


2-3 Tomatoes (Depending on size)
1 Cucumber
1/2 Shallot
1/2 Lemon


1.  Dice the tomatoes, shallot and cucumber, mix together in a bowl.
2.  Squeeze lemon over mixture.
3.  Eat.

As far as what to serve this with, I've been working our a lime marinade for chicken.  I think that would probably be nice.

Recipe in Progress: Soyaki Sliders

Now that its summer I'm trying to come up with some new things to cook up on the barbecue.  I've been grilling up some corn, some other vegetables, and various types of traditional barbecue fare.   As much as I like hamburgers (and cheeseburgers!), I've been working on a recipe for turkey burgers for awhile now.

Usually, I find turkey burgers to be dry and not very appetizing.  However, the addition of some sauces makes for some interestingly flavored burgers.  So far I've been most successful using Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce.  I've been hunting around for a recipe to make a homemade equivalent, probably involving teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and ginger but I've been unsuccessful.

Soyaki Sliders


1/2 lb Ground Turkey
1 Shallot
1 tbsp Ketchup
4 tbsp Trader Joe's Soyaki Sauce


1.  Dice the shallot and mix with the turkey, ketchup, and soyaki sauce.
2.  Divide the mix into eight equal portions.  Roll the portions into balls and then press into patties.
3.  Grill burgers over high heat.  Because turkey is rather dry, try to sear the outside of the burgers to trap some of the soyaki inside.
4.  Serve like a normal burger.  Because of the soyaki sauce, I like to add a fair bit of sriracha to the normal condiments.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How Research Works: 41


As soon as I hand in this paper you'll be the senior student in the lab.

Say it isn't so.

Its not as exciting as you think.

I can't wait to have an excuse for my bitterness.

There is that.

I'll take my small victories when I can get them.

Remember those.  They become less and less common when your the senior student. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE

The most exciting title in all of the Great DC Reboot of 2011... Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE.  

This series has been just rumors for about five years and I have been waiting for it for even longer.  For those who don't know, DC's version of Frankenstein's monster is something of a supernatural super spy who fights crazy monsters with steampunk weapons and bickers with his wife, all while quoting Paradise Lost.  In his introductory mini-series he was introduced as a hitman who rises from the dead to defeat an evil, sentient, universe and things got even crazier from there.  

Here he is after defeating some bugs (sent by humanity's future evil descendants, obviously) by burning down a school in a scene modeled after the last scene of Carrie.

The whole concept is just about the most ludicrous, most comic-booky thing ever.  I can't wait to see more of it.

Images from: Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein
By: Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke 

Magneto: Mutant Secret Agent

So I saw this over the weekend.  Overall I thought it was very good, if a bit uneven.  Though its unlikely given how this one ended, I'd really like to see a whole movie of Magneto running around doing spy things.

The first three quarters of this are mostly awesome.  The Magneto scenes especially are engaging, with Michael Fassbender more than making up for the acting black whole that is January Jones.  There are a few clunky bits of dialogue, but overall I really enjoyed everything before the last sequence.  The third act isn't bad per se, but doesn't really fit with the rest of the movie.  I don't want to spoil anything, but all the character development that slowly develops for the first two acts is settled in about 30 seconds at the end of the movie.  Its jarring, and it doesn't really work, but I guess it was really necessary to maintain continuity with X Men 3.

Criticisms aside, I actually really enjoyed this.  The first two acts more than make up for the messy third.  Its silly, its over the top, its exactly what you'd expect from an X-Men movie that takes place in the 1960's and stars Kevin Bacon.  I wouldn't rush out immediately to the theater to see it, but it is certainly worth checking out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brief Outage

Normal posting will begin again next week sometime.  I'm busy with various school projects and Red Sox games.

The Great DC Comics Reboot of 2011

The majority of the titles for this crazy reboot thing have been announced now, with only the Superman books remaining.  Honestly, I think there is a lot to like about what has been announced.  There isn't anything particularly earth shattering, but for the most part there doesn't appear to be to many egregious mis-steps.

I like that the line has some diversity to it now.  There are supernatural/fantasy titles, action oriented titles, westerns titles, even the superhero titles appear to be quite diverse in tone.  The creative teams also seem quite diverse with several indie creators making the jump to mainstream titles.  We'll see how long all this lasts, I'm guessing some of the more interesting titles (Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE, Firestorm, Stormwatch) will get canceled after not too long due to low sales.  But maybe going digital will help save some of the more marginal books.  We'll see.

I don't particularly care for the influx of 90's era Marvel talent.  Scott Lobdell isn't the worst writer in the world, but I'm not sure why he got the call and Bryan Q. Miller and especially Brian Wood didn't.  Its a little strange that a writer who hasn't contributed to a Marvel or DC book in about 10 years is now in charge of three titles, but I suppose it could work out decently enough.  I really have no idea what could be motivating DC to put Rob Liefeld on a book in 2011 though.  I know there is an increasing nostalgia for 90's comics, and I'm all for a diverse comics line... but seriously?

Anyway, I like a lot more than I dislike about the revamped DC comics.  At least for now, it looks like they are making a genuine effort to cater to range of different fans.  I don't particularly care for some of the choices they've made, but not all of DC Comics' output is meant to appeal to me.  I'll probably be reading more DC books after the reboot than I am now which bodes well for the success of this whole thing I think.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How Research Works: 40


I got accepted to that fMRI bootcamp at UCLA in July, but I just found out my cousin is getting married during that time.  I guess I can re-apply for next year?

Or you could go to the bootcamp.

But my cousin is getting married...

It is an honor to get into this program.  You are making the wrong decision if you don't go.

But my cousin is getting married... You would miss a family member's wedding to go to something that happens every year?

Of course I would.  To succeed in academia so should you.


I'm not going to the bootcamp.  There isn't any money for me to pay for tickets anyhow.

I would pay my own way.

You realize this thing happens every year right?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Enchiladas + Beef + Egg

I have very few rules about eating in restaurants.  I'll try almost anything, almost anywhere.  A rule that I encourage everyone to follow is whenever a waiter/cook asks if you would like something not on the menu or an alternative preparation of something on the menu, always say yes.

The second variant of this rule came up this weekend at Gabino's Diner.  Every time I go to this place I have an interesting dinning experience.  Last time I ended up getting some complementary flan and some of the best chips and salsa on Long Island.  This time, I had some of the best enchiladas I've had on the east coast.

Eventually I'll order traditional diner fare at Gabino's.  I'm sure their pancakes and eggs are delicious, and their sandwiches all look amazing.  However, Gabino's also happens to have the best Mexican food within 40 minutes of my house.  Given that the only other Mexican place I know of on the island is an inconveniently far distance away, and there are plenty of places to get pancakes and eggs on the island, it'll probably be awhile before I order traditional diner fare at Gabino's.

On my most recent trip to Gabino's a very interesting question was posed to me, "Would you like beef and an egg on those enchiladas?"  Given my rule of dining, I absolutely had to say yes.  Especially since the waitress assured me that this was the way that everyone in the back ate their enchiladas.  With that sort of recommendation, I really couldn't say no.  Now I like almost anything with an egg on it and I like beef a lot, but I wasn't really sure how it would all work.  Turns out it all works amazingly well, the egg and the tomatillo sauce work well together as does the beef and chicken enchiladas.  What looked to be a massive pile of random foodstuffs turned out to be quite flavorful and delicious.

I haven't been led astray by following my rule of restaurant eating.  Nor have I been led astray by Gabino's.  Every time I go there, I have a memorable dinning experience.  And really, I can't ask for more than that.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Luke Cage Trailer

This is probably not a real trailer.  Likely Isaiah Mustafa is just trying to land a role in a movie that hasn't even been announced yet.

How Research Works: 39


Do you want to get some lunch?

I don't think I have time to leave campus.  Unless you want to get pizza delivered...

Oh.  I thought we could go somewhere on campus.

You intend to dine on the finest of nonexistent foods?

I'm sure I have no idea what you are talking about.  Have you been watching Game of Thrones again?

Yes.  But more to the point, there isn't anything open on campus until August.  Turns out university dining services cares as much about us as the rest of the university.'

Starbucks!  Coffee!

I know.  I'm so sorry for your loss.

Friday, June 3, 2011

How Research Works: 38


Did you sign your work study form?

Yep.  I now owe the department 88 hours of office service.  Which they will demand when I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown I'm sure.

Funny how that works.  We aren't allowed to enroll in summer classes, which prevents us from applying for loans, which means we end up owing the department time served.

I think we can enroll in summer classes.  We'd just have to pay tuition... thus eliminating the point of the loans.  Its a catch-22.  Just not the good, literary, kind.

Its like we're indentured servants or something.

You say as you pay for a candy bar sold by the University with a debit card supplied by the University attached to an account that contains money given to you by the University.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rebooting DC Comics #1

DC is rebooting every comic.  I'm not sure if this means they'll be starting every single comic with a new #1, or just the majority.  In either case, supposedly every comic coming out in September will feature stories designed for new readers along with new(ish) creative teams.  In conjunction with all this creative upheaval every will also, for the first time, be available for purchase digitally on the same day as they are released brick and mortar comic stores.

Predictably, this has led to an implosion of the comics-centric spaces of the internet (humorously illustrated here).  A lot of the worry seems to stem from fans losing "their" stories or from concern that the books they're collecting will suddenly "no longer count."  As I've previously mentioned, I think the whole notion these arguments are pretty silly, so I'm not really concerned about that aspect of all this.  I'm sure the amount of actual change will be relatively minimal.  But even if everything changes, the old stories will still exist to be read.  I'm also mostly unconcerned that DC is going to restart Action Comics and/or Detective Comics.  Action Comics is only a few years from 1000 continuously published issues, and Detective Comics isn't that far behind. Even if they do get renumbered, DC as a company seems far too focused on the past to ignore these numbers for very long.

Though few details have been released so far, I think this could actually be a pretty good move.  A lot depends on how everything is executed of course, but the decision to start releasing everything digitally is about 10 years overdue.  If the stories are good, and I'm sure some of them will be, then I think the creative shakeup is worth it.  If going digital actually gets people to read comics again, then almost any change is probably worth it.  Frankly, catering to new fans is what both major publishers should be focused on all the time.  Maybe if this works, they'll finally realize it.

Comic Book Art: We3

I complain a lot about poor writing and mediocre art in comics, but only because the medium is capable of so much.  Check out this sequence from the outstanding We3.  There is very little context provided in the actual issue, but the action is very engaging even without dialogue or panel captions.  Just look at it.  The entire narrative is conveyed with still images placed in sequence.  This is the type of storytelling comics are uniquely capable of.  I wish there was more of this type of thing and less money grabbing crossover nonsense.

Though the writing of these panels deserves mention, the art along with a substantial portion of the credit should go to the great Frank Quitely.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas

So far, I'm more interested in the trailer for this than the actual movie.

A more explicit version of this trailer popped up over the weekend, supposedly filmed in a theatre in Europe.  Now, I've seen my fair share of bootleg video, and this was either the best bootleg ever or something fishy is going on.

Though the camera did move obviously at the beginning of the video, there was none of the typical theatre sounds or signs of people moving around.  Add to that the absurdly good sound quality, the presence of an MPAA label in front of a trailer ostensibly shown in Europe, and Sony's apparent tolerance for someone leaking their top-secret trailer a few days early, and it seems to me that the whole thing was a bit of clever viral marketing. 

How Research Works: 37


I'm so glad its summer!  I can run around outside and not worry about classes!

Summer?  Outside?

I think I'm going to go to the beach tomorrow!  Want to come?


If I give you some flyers, will you hang them up around the outside world?  I need participants for my study?

Don't you think of other things besides research?

Other things?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Education Bubble: The High Cost of Higher Education

This has come up a lot recently, so I think its worth discussing in some depth. There is a notion that the next big economic bubble to burst will be in higher education.

To adequately discuss the issue, I think its important to first talk delineate the difference between the common conceptions of what higher education is and what it does and the reality on the ground. For the purposes of this post I'll try to define everything operationally. When I talk about "success" and "outcomes" I'm talking principally in financial terms. The picture is obviously much more complicated than just finances, but its much more difficult to quantify quality of life than dollars.

The Wolverine Trailer

So it turns out Darren Aronofsky won't be directing The Wolverine after all.  Marvel and Fox have just put out their short list of possible directors.  Some interesting choices on there, with Mark Romanek being the standout choice.  The rest of the list is made up of decent directors, though no one save Romanek has made anything I've been a particular fan of.

Gary Shore is probably the least known name on the list.  He has, however, already directed a trailer for the film.  I should note that no part of the movie has started production, so the trailer was probably made on spec as part of a campaign for the job.  Its interesting and may just be a preview for what the movie will ultimately be like.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Star Wars- The Great Unknown

Arguments about the canonicity of various Star Wars stories are stupid.  Who cares if the novels officially account for what happens to Luke Skywalker and buddies after Return of the Jedi.  Most of the audience chooses not to believe that half the films don't count anyway, so I don't really understand the point over arguing about whether or not Han Solo and Princess Leia get married (spoiler?) or whatever.

With all that said, despite being published in a licensed Star Wars magazine, this story is probably not considered canon by anyone.  This, of course, does not matter at all.  The story is awesome and you should read it.  Is it the official fate of Han Solo and Chewbacca?  No, probably not.  Is it awesome?  Extremely.   Its also sort of depressing, so be prepared for that.

How Research Works: 36


Question.  Why are the prices so much lower in the summer?  

Its simple supply and demand really.  There is less demand over the summer we have to adjust the price accordingly.  We also have less overhead because we have to employ less people and buy less ingredients when we're not serving 15,000 people 3 times a day.

...That actually makes sense.   A very good answer to my sarcastic question.  Thank You.

No problem.  My post-doctoral work was in the economics of universities.  Turns out this job is significantly less soul crushing than academia.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Danny Trejo vs The Muppets

I'm curious to see what sort of Google searches bring people to this post...

Anyway, I think this is the last preview of this I'll post for awhile.  I really like all of these pseudo-trailers and everything, but really I think anyone who is going to a Muppet movie doesn't really need to be convinced by a trailer.  I do like the newfound ubiquity of Danny Trejo though.

Pigs in Space

This is a bunch of indie rock thats come out recently.  I think Beige isn't actually signed to a label... once they get signed though, I think they're going to be huge.  The rest of the mix is relatively well known indie rock.  The more I listen to The Antlers, the more I like the new album.  They played at Stony Brook last year, as much as I'd like to see them I think they're getting too big to come back.

The title, of course, refers to the best skit on The Muppet Show.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, shame on you.  The particular episode pictured below is featured behind the cut.

Space Creatures

1.  Beige- Folds
2. Benediction- Thurston Moore
3.  Little Cup- Thao and Mirah
4. Calgary- Bon Iver
5. I Don't Want Love- The Antlers
6. Waves- Holly Miranda
7. I Get Nervous- Lower Dens
8. We need a Myth- Okkervil River
9. Will Do- TV on the Radio

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Horrors- Still Life

This sounds a heck of a lot more like New Order than that New Order song I posted a few days ago.  The difference is this is coming out in 2011 not 1983.  I really like the new wave/shoegazing revival thats been happening for awhile now.  With the way these things work though, I bet we'll be hearing a bunch of hair metal homages very soon... which I am not looking forward to at all.

Blogging for Dollars

So this is all getting crazy.  Last month's traffic increased significantly again as did the number of clicks on those annoying Adsense ads.  I'm actually not far away from receiving an actual check in the mail (albeit a small one) for writing ridiculous nonsense and posting youtube videos.

I feel sort of silly about all of this.  I'm not supposed to encourage people to click on the ads and I'm embarrassed that I am getting actual, real-life, money for blogging, but I'm certainly not going to complain.  I'll probably end getting some comics, books, and other useless nonsense after cashing the check.  Comics, books, and other useless nonsense that I'll end up writing about on this very blog.

Maybe this will become a self-perpetuating thing.  Who knows.

Friday, May 27, 2011

How Research Works: 35


I got you something for helping me get into grad school!

Is is poison?  A bomb?  Some time of poison bomb?

No!  Why would you say that!?

Because I helped you get into grad school.

You're so funny!  Its a t-shirt with a brain on it!  Because you like brains! 

A year from now, when you are knee deep in grad school, I want you to remember that I warned you about what you were getting into. 

Don't worry!  I think I'll enjoy grad school!

Try to remember that optimism a year from now.

Abraham Lincoln: Secret Avenger

The context of this doesn't really matter.  It doesn't really make sense in any case.  All you really need to know is that Nazi robots are invading Washington D.C. and that the Smithsonian Institute, The Lincoln Memorial, and the ghost of George Washington won't stand for that.

Usually its pretty obnoxious when comics try to do politics.  At best, it comes across as stilted and pandering.  This isn't exactly subtle, but at least it embraces the ridiculousness of injecting politics into superhero stories.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hal Jordan is the Worst Green Lantern

Warning: Inane nerd ranting ahead.

I think my criticisms of the forthcoming Green Lantern movie are well documented.  Other than my distaste for most things involving Geoff Johns, the main problem I have, even more than the trailer looking like a horribly animated cartoon, is that Hal Jordan is the worst Green Lantern.  Literally any of other characters who hold the Green Lantern moniker would make for a more interesting movie than Hal Jordan.

Seriously, John Stewart (superhero architect and former marine) has already been featured on television for years and Kyle Raynor (former artist adapting to his role as the last of the superhero policemen) is frankly the most interesting character to be featured in a Green Lantern comic.  Even Guy Gardener (angry dude that got punched out by Batman once) is more interesting than Hal Jordan, and he is one of the least interesting comic characters ever.  Any one of those characters (or any combination of them) could be featured in an interesting movie about alien space policemen fighting evil from beyond imagination.  Hal Jordan?  No so much.

Maybe in the 1950's professional test pilot with no fear was enough of a characterization to get by, but in 2011 I think we deserve a little more depth from our superheroes.

With all that said, click behind the cut to read about one of the best Green Lanterns.


Half of a good movie with a heck of a lot of overacting. See the 2-D print as I can't imagine the 3-D will add anything.

Half of this movie takes place in a little sleepy town in New Mexico. The other half takes place in a technicolor Jack Kirby-esque version of Asgard. This makes for several jarring shifts in tone as the movie goes forward. One scene will feature Natalie Portman and friends complaining about the loss of their research equipment (something I can relate to) and the very next scene will feature Anthony Hopkins giving an insane speech about frost giants or rainbow bridges or whatever. It makes some sense in context, but its more than a little awkward when the two world collide. Especially since everyone in Asgard talks like Stan Lee writes.  Norse god aliens like their exclamation marks apparently!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Checking In with Game of Thrones

This turned out to be a lot better than I imagined.  I had thought the show was going to be fantasy epic by the numbers, but it has turned out to be a highly complex political drama that happens to take place in a medieval fantasy world.  I'm up to the 7th episode so far and I think every episode has been an improvement on the last, with the last two episodes being especially stellar.  I usually hate medieval fantasy, but when a fantasy show is closer to The Wire in tone than anything on television save for Treme, I can deal with some overwrought dialogue and deus ex machina (of which there has actually been very little on Game of Thrones so far).  Peter Dinklage is still the best thing about the show, but thats more a complement on his acting (and the writing of his character) than a mark against the rest of the show.

Link Clicking

Much to my surprise someone somewhere has been clicking on the adsense links.  To the point where I've earned something like $30 in 2 months.  This of course is $30 dollars too much considering how little effort I put into this most of the time.  I'm not sure why anyone would want to click on ads for for-profit universities (much more on those later) and other random things... but thanks I guess?

The fact that I'm getting something like 1300 hits a month now (and 7 subscribers via Google Reader!) is just stupid .  I don't get that many comments so I really have no concept of who is reading all the drivel that I write.  I wouldn't read it myself except to proofread.

Arcade Fire- Culture War

This is the other track thats been leaking all over everywhere.  I like it less than "Speaking in Tongues" but its still worth listening to.  As for the deluxe version of "The Suburbs", I guess it is going to come with a documentary by Spike Jonze as well as some other extras.  I'll be watching the documentary once it hits Youtube and I've already posted most of the extra music... so yay internet?  Though I like the Arcade Fire a lot, releasing a deluxe version of an album for purchase in stores seems a bit silly in 2011.

Arcade Fire - Culture War by MergeRecords

How Research Works: 34


You can't park here.

But I work here.  Look I have a faculty pass and everything.

This lot is for commencement parking only.  If you have a pass you can't park here today.

Is the other lot open?

All parking on campus is for commencement only.

So... nobody who works here is allowed to park on campus today.

That is correct.

I guess it figures that commencement would be as big a disaster as everything else around here.

You have no idea.  Do yourself a favor and stay far away from the fountains today.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Arcade Fire/David Byrne- Speaking in Tongues

This is an outtake from The Suburbs.  Apparently its being released as part of some deluxe version of the album or something.  Anyway, its obviously leaked all over the internet already.  Well worth a listen.

Arcade Fire - Speaking in Tongues (feat. David Byrne) by MergeRecords

The Muppets Trailer

I'm not quite sure what to make of this yet.  I've heard some good things, but it looks like the focus might be on the human characters rather than the muppets themselves.  I guess we'll have to wait for a more straightforward trailer to get a better idea.

How Research Works: 33


So I noticed the world didn't end over the weekend.

Didn't it?  Macho Man Randy Savage died.

I'm sure I don't know who that is.  Anyway... we should come up with a summer research plan.

I thought we had already.

I wanted to add a few more things.  You aren't going anywhere this summer right?

Not anymore obviously.

Friday, May 20, 2011

How Research Works: 32


Did your plumbing situation get fixed.

Not really.  They decided to just raze the house.

That sounds... rather extreme.

Well.  In the grand scheme of things, not really.  Since I've been in grad school I've been kicked out of a place, had a place burn down, left a place after the landlord descended into madness, and lived on campus.


Living on campus was the worst.  By far.  Compared to that, this is nothing.

Everything about your life terrifies me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Grant Morrison's X-Men

I've been thinking a lot about what comics would be good to share with someone who has never read any comics before.  Mostly I think the answer depends on individual taste.  If someone likes the Spiderman movies, give them Spiderman comics.  If they like sci-fi, give them something by Warren Ellis.  The list is really endless.

Because of the prevalence of X-Men related media out there, and the diversity within the X-Men line, introducing someone to comics via X-Men comics is not the worst idea.  The monthly titles are (still) mostly a mess, but some of the collected editions are actually rather new reader friendly.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

(New) New Order- Hellbent

Somehow there is still new Joy Division/New Order material being released.  This is apparently appearing on some sort of greatest hits collection.  When I first saw headlines about this I got excited thinking it was a new Joy Division song or an unheard New Order song from the 80's.  Sadly, it appears to be neither... I guess the bottom of those particular barrels have already been scraped.  Anyway, though this track isn't particularly necessary, it'll have to do.  I guess I'm going to have to break out all those (two) Joy Division records.

New Order - Hellbent (Previously Unreleased) by Rhino UK

How Research Works: 31


I'm going to have to stay home today to deal with a major plumbing disaster.

Should I still run subjects?

Of course.  You don't require my supervision anyway.  If there are problems, just blame them on me and I'll deal with them tomorrow. 

Should we still have the lab party today?  I bought in all kinds of food.

Food? Is running water more important than food?  

Is that a rhetorical question?

Sadly.  I don't think so.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lego Music

I've been super busy the last few days, but right now I'm stuck at home while a plumber terrorizes the apartment.  I'm not sure if that is the cause of the depressing mess that is this week's playlist or if its due to dwelling on the education bubble.  Anyway.... here goes nothing.


Never Come Around- La Sera
Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out- The Antlers
The Messenger- Papercuts
California- EMA
Lammicken- Braids
Moses- Chelsea Wolfe
Trying to Pretend- Vivian Girls
White Like Heaven- Gowns

Its a toss up between EMA and The Antlers for my favorite album of the year so far.  After The Antlers released Parenthesis I sort of lost interest.... but the album is really great.  Not as good as their last release maybe (although its still growing on me) but really solid nonetheless.  As far as EMA, if this album is any indication, she is going to be huge.  I expect I'll be hearing her stuff in television montages and blasted from dormitory windows any day now.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How Research Works: 30


I don't think I'm going to be able to come home this summer.

But isn't your stipend only for the 9 months?

Nobody told the department that.  I don't get paid but I still need to be here.


Grad school seems like a scam sometimes.

You have no idea.

The Education Bubble

There is a notion out there that the next economic bubble to burst will be in education.  The longer I stay in grad school, the more obvious this becomes.  Heck, the SUNY system (including Stony Brook) provide a pretty good case study in where things are starting to go wrong.   Its sort of terrifying actually.  I have a lot to say about all of this, though no time to organize my thoughts presently.  With any luck, I'll be able to write something substantial in the next week or so.

I stumbled upon a Frontline documentary that provides some perspective on where higher education is, and where it might be going.  The issues we're facing are actually much larger and much more pervasive than just the rise of for profit universities, but the documentary is still worth checking out.  This sort of thing is one of the reasons why the "How Research Works" posts are becoming increasingly cynical.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Batman vs The Internet

Comic books are serious business.  To demonstrate this, here is Bruce Wayne (and his bat shaped eyebrows) fighting crime by trolling people on the internet while his former sidekick and former sidekick's current sidekick watch and drink coffee. 

From Batman Incorporated #6
By Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham

How Research Works: XXIX


(Nobody is around)

(Undergrads are studying for finals)

(Grad students are working from home)

(Professors are doing whatever professors do when not in the lab)

(Seriously, what do they do when they aren't in the lab?)

(They do leave the lab... right?)


Blogger Ate Some Posts

Things have been a bit screwy with Blogger for the last 36 hours or so.  Expect some craziness to continue as I try to haphazardly fix things.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Research Works: XXVIII


Ugh.  So I spent the night here...

Congratulations!  Everyone should do it at least once.  The students here before me practically lived here.

I heard about that.  Is that why there is a recliner in the experiment room?

I think that chair is just there to trick subjects into thinking our experiments aren't all incredibly torturous.  I think its full of asbestos or spiders or something actually.

I prefer the lab couch whenever I spend the night here.

That explains why our PI mentioned that she need to get a longer couch now that she has taller graduate students.

Yeah, she is always looking out for us...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Random Pictures of Food

I noticed there were a bunch of food pictures on my camera when I was uploading pictures of stuffed peppers.  Lets just say I'm even more excited for summer now that I am reminded that Summer means BBQ and BBQ means grilled meat for fajitas!

These pictures were taken over a year ago.  I think the delay in posting them means I need to start making grilled fajitas post haste. 

Recipe in Progress: Vaguely Turkish Stuffed Peppers

Despite not using a recipe and knowing next to nothing about Turkish cuisine, I thought these came out pretty well. I was worried that the rice was going to be undercooked, but aside from some al dente pieces here and there, that wasn't a problem.  The spices and everything really work well, though I think I'll add more cumin and parsley next time around.

The fragility of the peppers is an issue I wasn't really prepared for. Using tongs to get the peppers out of the pot caused a few of them to implode, which meant that a lot of the stuffing fell into the water. A more careful approach (spoons and patience) is probably necessary.

Since it is almost summer, I've been thinking about how to make these on the grill. I'm thinking that pre-cooking the filling (the night before maybe) then roasting some peppers on the BBQ would work well. It would certainly do more to preserve the spice flavor than boiling everything.  I saw a stuffed pepper recipe online that features grilled sausages, so I might get distracted and just make that.

Recipe behind the jump.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Research Tumble

I've decided to start cross posting the "How Research Works" posts to a Tumblr blog.  I'll be revising and updating the posts I've already made on here for awhile, but I'm sure posting will sync up eventually.

How Research Works: XXVII


Today I'll be talking about the future of academia...

Oh good.  I have a bunch of questions.

...Specifically how there isn't one.

Wait.  What?

There is no future in academia.  Not for any of you.  Not for this university.

I think I'm going to go have an existential crisis in my lab.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Here Forever

The last "How Research Works" post is based on an actual conversation that occurs often in my lab.  I've participated in it multiple times, both as the junior grad student and more recently as the bitter senior grad student.  In a couple of months I'll be the senior-most student in the lab which means that bitterness and cynicism will be expected of me.

This week's mix is a bunch of stuff that has been kicking around my iTunes for awhile.  No real theme this week, I'm thinking that the next mix will have to be something a bit more light hearted.

Don't Forget. Here Forever

1. Astroid Exile- Screen Vinyl Image
2. Magnetic Moon- Crystal Stilts
3. Perfect Life- Belong
4. Breath the Fire- The Soft Moon
5. Keep Slipping Away- A Place to Bury Strangers
6. The Silence Ends- The Vera Violets
7. End Times- Weekend
8. Lovely Weather- The Vandelles

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Research Works: XXVI

THE LAB: 5pm

Man.  Presentations sure are stressful.  How do you deal with all the anxiety?

Whenever I get stressed about something like that I just remember that I'll be here forever.

Wait.  How... how does that help anything?

Just think about how most of your efforts won't  immediately result in anything tangible.

But they will later right?

Eh.  By the time you graduate there probably won't be any jobs in science left.  Janitors make more money than us anyway... so no big loss I guess.


Please try not to have an existential crisis in the lab.  We wouldn't want to upset the janitors.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Superman vs. America!

This is really stupid.  The "controversial" Superman story where superman renounces his American citizenship is really rather unremarkable.  The theme isn't Superman renouncing America, but embracing the world.  Its an interesting idea, one that could be the focus of some interesting stories.  This isn't one of them.

Generally throwing Superman into the middle of a real situation just cheapens the reality of what is really going on, and this is no exception  There is a lot that can and should be written about the pro-democracy protests happening accross the Middle East and Northern Africa.  American superhero comics, though, might not be the best outlet.

I've put some of the story behind the cut if anyone's interested.  Its certainly the least of the stories from the issue its printed in (both the main story and the vignette by Damon Lindeloff/Ryan Sook are pretty good) but you should take a look to see what the fuss is about.  Its hokey, but the art isn't so bad in spots.

Those 60's X-Men

The more I see of this, the more I like it.   I am cautiously optimistic.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How Research Works: XXV


Can I ask a question

You already did.

Huh?  Anyway.  All of my grades are the same, that seems unlikely statistically.

And you think I made a mistake.

Pretty much.

It says here you aced every single exam with a 100%.

See!  All the same!  Unlikely!

Immediately, and without another word, remove yourself from my office.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino's western apparently has a new name... and Christoph Waltz is involved.

The purported cover of the script is below.  I like that despite his supreme writing chops, Tarantino apparently has the handwriting of a third grader.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Truth, Justice, Mike Huckabee, and Superman

Everything about this "controversy" makes my head hurt.  Silliness aside, the Siegle and Shuster estates have A LOT more to upset about than Superman renouncing his American citizenship for eight pages.

More later.

Two Minute Hate

I'm sure this will stir the pot...

Is the world a better place without Osama Bin Laden in it?  Certainly.

Will this undo the Patriot Act, two wars, state-sanctioned torture and untold death and destruction  Certainly not.

I don't mean to make a value judgement about anyone's feelings.  I really don't.  I just happen to think that the people partying in the streets are missing some perspective.  This isn't an epilogue to a clear narrative that started 10 years ago, its a tiny event in an incredibly messy situation.

How Research Works: XXIV


Remember, the final is Friday.

(Is aghast)

Did I forget to tell you about that?

Oh well.  Hope you get some sleep between now and then.

Significance Testing

This is basically how my life works, just without the Minecraft and attention from the press.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

I dislike laugh tracks

Did you know that there is a character on House with the same name as the main character on That 70's Show? Hopefully not because That 70's Show is awful and no one should watch it.

Pretty much everything in this week's mix is from the late 70's.  I hadn't heard of Wire until recently, but I'm a big fan.  Their song on the mix sounds like it could have been written this year.  Really cool.  Anyway,  the normal smorgasbord of internet famous indie rock will return next week.

Eric Foreman is Terrible

1. Gloria- Patti Smith
2. Queen Bitch- David Bowie
3. Vicious- Lou Reed
4. Overground- Siouxie and the Banshees
5. See No Evil- Television
6. Damaged Goods- Gang of Four
7. Police and Thieves- The Clash
8. Mannequin- Wire
9. Psycho Killer- Talking Heads

Friday, April 29, 2011

How Research Works: XXIII


It sure is a nice day today

I was thinking...

...That you should spend it in the lab?  I agree.


Grad students enjoy nature nice days by overhearing the joy of others through the window of their lab.

I'm not sure if thats true.

Maybe not.  You should do some empirical research to be sure.

Moebius vs Galactus

I'm always seeking out new, interesting things to read or watch.  After reading Blacksad (which is outstanding) and seeing all kinds of TinTin stuff around Montreal, I've been trying to get into European comics.  Its sort of intimidating.  Not only is (mostly) everything not in English, but the system of publication is completely different, and I don't know enough about the creators to get any sort of reference.

So far, I've found the works of Moebius to be a good entryway into European comics.  Not only is he prolific across multiple genres, but he is so well known that a fair amount of his work has been published in English. His style is also rather familiar given how much influence he has had on the look of American comics (and American sci-fi movies) over the last several decades.  

Incidentally, Moebius was responsible for the art on my favorite thing ever written by Stan Lee, Silver Surfer: Parable.  Its out of print at the moment, but I really can't recommend it enough.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Swamp Thing vs Geoff Johns (Revisited)

I can admit when I'm wrong.

Rebooting Swamp Thing's entire character from scratch isn't the worst way to make this work.  I really isn't.  I think the character deserves better than being dragged through a silly Geoff John crossover, but I actually sort of like where this is going.  For now it seems like the essence of the character is being preserved, while the some the baggage that comes along with it is being quietly ignored.  The (re)introduction of John Constantine into the mix is surprising, but encouraging.  The Constantine/Swamp Thing dynamic is an essential part of the best Swamp Thing stories, so I'm glad to see it return.  Its still don't necessarily agree with bringing these characters back, but at least its being done (sort of) well.

Of course, I don't see how all this couldn't have happened without canceling the China Mieville series.  Marvel seems to have no problem trusting their readers to differentiate their more adult oriented books from the all ages fare (though neither D.C. or Marvel's mainstream books are exactly suitable for children at the moment), so I'm not sure why the two books couldn't coexist.  And really, D.C. isn't canceling Hellblazer, even after bringing John Constantine.  Oh well.  For now, I'm just hoping that the new Swamp Thing series will feature a good creative team.  Blatantly stealing from Alan Moore is only going to get D.C. so far.

The Dark Knight Harry Potter

Remember when these were children's books about taking classes and making friends at a school for magic?

Remember when it was 1997 and these books were new?  I haven't always been a fan of the books or movies, but its going to be strange to not have any Harry Potter media coming out after 14 years of it being more or less ubiquitous.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


You might have noticed that there is now some advertising on this blog.  I implemented Google Adsense mostly to get some better reports on the traffic that this blog generates (not much).  I'm really not trying to make money off this thing, so please don't feel like you should click on anything on my account.  If something appeals to you then by all means, but the last thing I want is to throw up some annoying ads just to make a few pennies.  Same goes for any Amazon links I post.

How Research Works: XXII


Hey! Is one of those coffee drinks for me?

Nope.  Both for me.

Well then I'm sleeping in the office again.

I'll unfold the cot.

When did we get a cot?  This is the best day ever!

Everything about this is sort of sad.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to read comics

Lately I've been inspiring a bit of nerd rage by commenting by being negative about some recent developments in D.C. comics.  I thought it would be nice to balance this with some positivity.  With that said, I fully expect this to inspire more rage in the comment section.

Just as an aside, a good way to express nerd rage is to click on advertisements or buy things after clicking on sponsored Amazon links.  Just saying.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vacation Batman

This is late because I was on vacation last week.  I have a few of these in the can now, so it should be smooth sailing for the next few weeks.  The mix is some old stuff, some new stuff, and some stuff in between.

I don't know anything about the context in which the picture was taken, I can only assume it was awesome.

Old Brand New

1.  Tuesday Moon- Neutral Milk Hotel
2.  Deep Blue Sea- Grizzly Bear
3.  Stamp- The Rural Alberta Advantage
4.  Shine- Apples (In Stereo)
5.  Angela Surf City- The Walkmen
6.  Old Flame- Arcade Fire
7.  Grown Ocean- Fleet Foxes
8.  Satellite- The Kills
9.  Another Sky- Akron/Family

How Research Works: XXI


You are the T.A. for my class! Is that the exam you are printing out?!

Er... Yes?

Shouldn't you print that out someplace more secure...


ATTENTIVE UNDERGRAD in the psych department.

Hm.  That implies that the psych department printer can be used for something other than printing pictures of turtles and kittens.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I don't think this needs to be a thing at all.  Even the title makes no sense.

The fact that this is being discussed as the start of a new franchise is hilarious.  Did anyone involved see any of the previous Planet of the Apes movies... not good at all.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Au Pied de Cochon

I ate a lot of pork at this restaurant.  When I say a lot of pork, I don't just mean a large volume of pork.  My entree contained no fewer than four preparations of pork served over mashed potatoes that were at least 50% cheese.  Did I mention this is sort of a fancy place?

We were inspired to go to Au Pied de Cochon after seeing the insanity that is Head Chef Martin Picard on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.  Seriously, this guy seems more than a little bit nuts.  His food, however, is amazing.

Our experience wasn't quite as overwhelming as the one shown in the video (and involved far less foie gras).  Half the people present were, more or less, able to finish their dinner.  Not without significant work mind you, and with no room at all for dessert, but still.  I finished my entree (eventually), but was literally not hungry for days afterwords.  Compared to Au Pied de Cochon, La Banquise was just a preview of coming attractions.

For an entree, I ordered the PDC Melting Pot.  I had read online that it included pork and mashed potatoes.  With this in mind, I was less than prepared when a pot of sausages, pork, potatoes, mushrooms, and duck fat arrived.  This isn't my photo, but someone on Flickr got a photo that sort of does this monstrosity justice.  From what I could tell, the contents included boudin noir (blood sausage), pork sausage, pork belly, and pork shoulder.  All of this was served over mashed potatoes that included a metric (this was Canada after all) ton of cheese, mushrooms, and duck fat.  It was incredible.

Objectively, potatoes with that much cheese and fat couldn't be anything less than amazing.  I'm normally not the biggest fan of boudin noir when served on its own, but even that was really good.  Combined with the potatoes, I could pretty much eat it all day, every day.  I'd be a million pounds and have a heart attack a week, but I could do it.  The rest of the pork products were equally good, with the pork belly being my favorite I think.

We had a (nearly) vegetarian lunch many hours before going to Au Pied de Cochon.  In retrospect, this was probably a good thing.  Aside from lunch being amazing (and it totally was), Au Pied de Cochon is not the place to go if you are looking for anything resembling plant-based nutrition.  I thought (and still think) that the food was basically the best thing ever.  If I'm ever in Montreal again, I'll be making a stop at Au Pied de Cochon.

Friday, April 22, 2011

How Research Works: XX

THE LAB: 3pm

I didn't see you in the lab yesterday

I was in Canada.  Vacation.  I told you, remember?


Did you do any work while you were there?  Talk to anyone at MNI?

I think your idea of a vacation is different than mine.

You don't spend your vacations doing work?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Game of Thrones

I watched the pilot episode of this after getting back from Canada.  Its... pretty decent I guess.  Nothing too special so far.  An expert on this sort of thing has informed me that the story will pick up as the season moves forward, and I'm hoping it becomes a bit less high fantasy by the numbers.  So far, I'm going to keep watching for Peter Dinklage.

I don't think I'm not going to run out and read the novels.  Mostly because I don't have that kind of time.  Though if this series becomes a success (and I think it will), maybe that'll force George R.R. Martin to actually finish the books in a timely manner.

On the subject of poutine

Turns out I forgot to take any pictures while in Montreal.  Anyway, the weather was pretty bad (Snow! In April!) and there wasn't a lot of sightseeing.  There was, however, a lot of eating.  I'll write up something about the ludicrous dinner at Au Pied de Cochon later, but first I wanted to talk a bit about something a bit less classy, but equally ludicrous.  Poutine.

Our first night in Montreal, we decided to get some poutine at La Banquise a 24 hour poutine restaurant.  Well known for its variety of poutines, La Banquise was featured on the Quebec episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and was the first stop of our unintentionally intentional tour of eateries featured in that episode.

As you can see, poutine isn't exactly for the faint of heart.  We actually ordered four varieties of poutine (one for each person present) which turned out to be a bit too much cheese curds, fries, and gravy.  I'm hard pressed to remember the exact varieties we ordered (to be fair, their names were in French), but there was a lot of meat products involved.  The original (just cheese curds, fries, and gravy) and the version with chunks of onions and sausage were my favorite, but all the varieties were good in their own evil sort of way.

I'm really surprised poutine hasn't immigrated south.  Seems like there would be quite a lot of people interested in something that is essentially cheese fries + gravy.  Hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How Research Works: XIX



er... Hi

What does everyone in the car do for work?

We're all grad students...

...So you don't work?

No.  We work a lot.

And what do you work a lot on exactly?


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dinner Diner Dinner

There is a diner near my house that serves complementary beets. They also make a decent Rueben sandwich.  Thus they are vastly superior to the terribly kitchy diners that exist in literally every town on the island.  Turns out Long Island has some decent stuff, its just hidden and probably in a strip mall.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How Research Works: XVIII

THE BAR: 4am

My blog isn't making any money.

You think maybe its because you are talking in hyperlinks?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

They Live

Sort of a random selection here.  Thanks to the internet I'm listening to a lot of bands that aren't signed to labels, don't have any albums, and play in venues on the other side of the world.  Its kind of crazy.  I was reading recently about the technology that will probably replace blue-ray and I can't help but wonder if anyone is even going to bother with buying physical media by then.  Heck, I haven't even bothered getting a blue-ray player.

In terms of the actual mix, its the usual mess of stuff.  I usually can't get into LCD Soundsystem, but I like the track on here quite a bit.  Maybe because its a cover?  I'm not sure.  The title of the mix is, of course, the best line from the best thing Roddy Piper has ever done.

....And I'm all out of Bubblegum!

1. The Grey Ship- EMA
2. The Alter- Why Oak
3. Spell- Slowdance
4. Back Where I Began- Pure X
5. Lord Knows Best- Dirty Beaches
6. Do What You Will- Papercuts
7. The Park- Secret Cities
8. As I've Known- The Wrens
9. I'm Losing Myself- Robin Pecknold (w/ Ed Droste)
10. Advice and Vices- Chelsea Wolfe
11. Casual Diamond- SLEEP ∞ OVER
12. Go Outside- Cults
13. Live Alone- LCD Soundsystem