July 1st, 2009


Schott's Miscellany 29 June 2009

Jayne Mansfield died in a car crash (1967)


Although "Mexican waves"--the undulating effect fo a crowd of spectators jumping to their feet and waving their hands in the air like they just don't care--have long been part of stadium entertainment, the term was only coined during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico City. Research into these waves (known also as La Ola) by Illés Farkas et al. [Nature 2002; 419:131-2] indicates that waves usually move in a clockwise direction at an average speed of 12m (c.20 seats) per second. They tend to be 6-12m (c.15 seats) wide, and can be instigated by only a few dozen spectators. Mexican waves at Lord's (the spiritual home of cricket in London) circle the ground but cease temporarily between the Allen and Warner Stands while the wave passes invisibly through the MCC members' seats in the pavilion. The restraint of the members is usually accompanied by a humorous chorus of boos.

TYCHISM--theory that events occur by pure chance
"Believing in tychism, I purchase lottery tickets."
  • Current Music
    "Sister Ruby's House of Prayer" by Paul Thorn
chronic rift

The Chronic Rift Spotlight: "Decisions" by Michael A. Burstein

This week's installment in "The Summer of the Rift" is a new thing for the podcast: producing an audio drama! Michael A. Burstein (mabfan) won our audio drama contest, held earlier in the year, by adapting his Hugo Award-nominated short story "Decisions" into a dramatic story.

"Decisions" features me as Commander Elliason, Andrea K. Lipinski as Gabby, Jay Smith (dr_p_venkman) as Gabby's assistant, and Orenthal V. Hawkins and Judith Furnari as George & Gracie. Host John S. Drew (drewshi) also interviews Michael about the writing of the audio (and the story).

The episode is available on iTunes, as well as directly from the Rift web site or from podOmatic's Rift page.

Check it out!
  • Current Music
    "The Real Me" by Roger Daltrey w/orchestra
politics, Kerry Edwards

the junior senator from Minnesota....

Yes, you can call him "Al," but you can also called him "Mr. Franken of Minnesota."

Norm Coleman has finally conceded, and the state Supreme Court has declared Franken the winner, and he is now Senator Al Franken (D-MN).

This also gives the Democratic Party a 60-seat majority in the Senate. The last time this happened was in 1979, also with the Democrats.

Congratulations, Senator!
  • Current Music
    the latest episode of The Chronic Rift

Schott's Miscellany 30 June 2009

Charles Blondin, a French acrobat, crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope for the first time (1859)


"Yips" are the involuntary and uncontrolled jerks, tremors, or freezing that affect certain individuals when they undertake finely controlled motor skills. In the world of sports, where fine movements can assume critical importance, the yips are most often associated with golf, especially putting or chipping, when a sudden jerk of the wrist can send a ball whizzing past the cup.According to Smith et al. [Sports Med. 2003; 33:13-31] yips-affected golfers add approximately 4.7 strokes to their scores over 18 holes. However, the yips can also affect a host of other sportsmen, including bowlers, snooker players, dart throwers, and even petanque cuckers. Considerable research has been undertaken into the yi8ps, with some neurological evidence suggesting that they may be a form of focal dystonia. Such task-specific dystonias affect groups of muscles, usually when placed under repeated stress, and they include the commonly suffered "writer's cramp." The controversial suggestion that psychological factors like "performance anxiety" or "choking" might play a contributory part in such involuntary movements on the sports field is much disputed.

I prefer to forget both pairs of glasses and pass my declining years saluting strange women and grandfather clocks.
Ogden Nash (1902-71)
  • Current Music
    "Tura Lura Lural (That's an Irish Lullaby)" by Van Morrison & The Band
ghost academy

good day so far...

Had a nice lunch with friends, then learned in quick succession that Chapter 4 of StarCraft: Ghost Academy Volume 1 was approved (which is happy-making not only for the obvious, but because Blizzard's approval of that chapter is a payment stage), that the check I've been desperate for has finally showed up, and that I've got a good-sized royalty check coming very very soon.
  • Current Music
    still "Endless Highway"

Farscape's 10th Anniversary at San Diego (plus--new DVDs!)

The Jim Henson Company has announced a deal with A&E Home Entertainment to re-release Farscape on DVD in honor of the show's tenth anniversary in November of this year.

Henson will be holding a panel at Comic-Con in San Diego in a couple weeks, featuring Brian Henson, Rockne S. O'Bannon, Ben Browder, and Claudia Black. While this isn't mentioned in the press release, I will be moderating the panel. (Yes, I have to moderate those four -- but no pressure... *laughs*).

More on the panel as things are announced.

Edited to add: It's been confirmed that the panel will be Friday 24 July at 10.15am in Room 6.
  • Current Music
    "Jungleland" by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band