Friday, February 27, 2009

Japan Makes a Mockery of my Childhood

I will not soon forgive this.


...I will be able to leave the dentist's office without crying. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs, I don't drink energy drinks, and now I don't drink soda and sweet tea.

Bottled water and an even blander life, here I come.

Also, goodbye to a nice chunk of my savings.

UPDATE: Scratch that --say goodbye to half of my savings! Depressing...

Children of Evolution

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Twitter Pic is Truth

I'm finding that I'm starting to get a little annoyed about how frequently some of the people to which I've subscribed twitter (David Gregory and Stephen Fry, I'm looking at you). Maybe I just don't "get" twitter yet, but some users spam every little mundane event in their lives --which would be fine maybe 2 or 3 times a day. I enjoy the voyeuristic look into other lives that twitter provides. But the experience is becoming a mind numbing deluge of frivolous information.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Little Alien Story

Ever have a dream so real it's unnerving? I had one of those this morning.

I awoke to the sound of rustling in my room and caught something moving by my closet. An overwhelming sense of dread washed over me and I jumped straight out of bed, opened my door, and ran downstairs just as quick as I could. I found my mom in the kitchen, getting my brother ready for school.

"Mom. Did you just hear anything?"
"No. Are you alright? Trouble getting to sleep?"
"No. I, uh, I think there's something in my room. Like, I thought I saw an alien or, I don't know. It was weird."

We both crept to the front room and heard someone moving around upstairs.

"It's probably just your brother," she whispered. I nodded. A video game controller was lying on the ground right in front of me and I picked it up.

"This shouldn't be down here. There's no way it could get here."

We both looked at each other and continued moving toward my room. My brother stepped out from his room.

"Did you hear something?" He asked.
I shushed him and pointed to my bedroom. I walked in with my family behind me. My window was open and a cold breeze was blowing the curtains. The room was empty.

My mother was halfway through the door when she shrieked. She was looking down the hallway.

"It's him!" she screamed as she ran into my room, falling back against my bed. I heard the pitter-patter of two little naked feet running quickly down the hall.

A little grey alien, no more than 3 feet tall, with big, black eyes, charged me. I screamed. He tried to run under my legs and escape through the window, but for some reason, I squeezed my legs shut just in time, trapping him. He swiveled in my grasp and looked straight into my eyes. He pulled out a small weapon and aimed it at my head. He shot me.

I felt my head compress and shrink, imploding into a horrific sensation of nothingness. And then I woke up.

It took me a couple moments to orient myself. At first, I could hardly move. But as control over my limbs returned, along with the memory of my frightening experience, I pulled myself out of bed and walked downstairs.

I called to my mom. She was in the kitchen getting my brother ready for school. She was still in her pajamas. In my dream, she was already in her work clothes. The first discrepancy.

"Mom, did you have any weird dreams?"
"Uh, well, yes," she answered. "Just before I woke up. There was something. I can't remember."

This is it, I thought. If our dreams match up, then maybe there was something authentic about my experience. I could hardly hold the words in.

"Was it about aliens?"
"Aliens? No. I don't think so."

Another discrepancy. I looked around for the video game controller. Gone. The third discrepancy. I sighed, relieved by the fact that it was all a dream.

"I had one of those dreams that feel so real," I explained, "about an alien, like one of those archetypical Greys people talk about." Strangely, as the details of the dream started to drift away, new dream memories were springing up. Didn't I catch the alien in the act of creating hybrid humanzees and ligers? That's right! I was watching a tv program about hybrids just before I fell asleep. That must have been part of some other, less convincing, but loosely connected dream narrative. An over active imagination seemed to explain it all away.

But I will mention one last, somewhat unnerving discovery. A week ago, I awoke with a feeling of unease to find my curtains blowing in the wind and my window opened halfway. This was no dream. I left to take a shower without thinking much of it. It was not until I returned that I realized the strangeness of the scene. I thought, "What on earth is my window doing open on a blustery, winter day?" I asked my family, but no one could account for why it was open. It seems to have opened in the middle of the night.

Ohio Man Holds Woman Hostage, Forces to Wear Adult Diaper, then Reads Bible

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- A man held a woman captive in handcuffs and an adult diaper for three days while he read Bible passages to her, police said.

Troy Brisport, 34, was charged with kidnapping and felonious assault. Bail was set Tuesday at $400,000.

He picked up the woman Wednesday night in Detroit after she told him she had nowhere to stay, and brought her to his home in Toledo, about 55 miles away, police said.

The woman told police that after she fell asleep Brisport handcuffed her wrists and ankles, gagged her, undressed her and put her in an adult diaper, then read Bible passages, said police Capt. Ray Carroll.

She apparently was not sexually assaulted, Carroll said.

However, court documents alleged that Brisport tried several times to suffocate the woman using a pillow and blanket.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Return of the Toothache

And it's back with a vengeance! The tooth that previously suffered a root canal is at it again, sending out nauseating waves of pain. I still need to make an appointment, but I'm afraid of the diagnosis. It may be "goodbye and so long" to my tooth. What a joke.

For the record, I've brushed my teeth twice a day, every day, flossed 3 times a week, and sloshed two cups of mouth wash every day ever since my last appointment a little over a year ago. I suppose that is part of the problem -- I wait too long to go in for a cleaning, which should be scheduled twice a year. But I must have some pretty lame genes as well.

I wish I had dental insurance. Hopefully this won't eat up all my savings.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bus Slogan Generator

You're no doubt already familiar with the atheist bus campaign, so I won't bother you with the details. Now you can create your very own ad campaign with the bus slogan generator!

Post your creations in the comments! If you come up with a particularly good one, don't forget to enter it into Derren Brown's competition.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Candy Shoppe Now Open!


Now there are all sorts of new ways to connect with your humble host and share your favorite Depth Deceptions!

Follow Me on Twitter

Check Out my Public Facebook Profile

Submit and Support Depth Deception on reddit

Then Stop By My Youtube Page

Satisfy your sweet tooth!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Club Nintendo Taxes

I've just spent the last hour registering my Nintendo products to earn "coins" and Gold status (300+ coins) at Club Nintendo of America. The coins can be exchanged for small prizes, like a collection of Game and Watch games for the Nintendo DS or a pack of Hanafuda cards. Watching your coins pile up is actually kind of addicting. It got me thinking.

Tax season is upon us. Wouldn't it be awesome if the government hired a game company to design an online interface for preparing and paying taxes? Certain small bonuses or tax deductions could be handed out to those who complete the tax "game" first. There could be a reward system, like Nintendo's coin system, and stupid crap prizes that nevertheless entice citizens to get their tax forms filled out quickly and accurately.

As it stands, I look at my W2s and my tax return forms and I know I stand to get some money back, but it's all so dull and dreary that I keep pushing it off.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and the Predator

This is no joke. Elton John's Rocket Pictures is producing "Pride and Predator," directed by Will Clark, which follows the murderous rampage of the famous seven-foot intergalactic alien set against the backdrop of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." I don't know whether to laugh or cry. But I can't wait to buy a ticket!

The film starts shooting in London later this year.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Temple of Nature

Organic life beneath the shoreless waves
Was born and nurs'd in ocean's pearly caves;
First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass,
Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass;
These, as successive generations bloom,
New powers acquire and larger limbs assume;
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring,
And breathing realms of fin and feet and wing.

Erasmus Darwin. The Temple of Nature. 1802

Monday, February 16, 2009

Retro Gaming Part VI -- Turtle Power!

I now have in my possession two of my most beloved, side-scrolling, beat-em-up video games as a kid.

TMNT II: Arcade Game


TMNT IV: Turtles in Time

32 Songs in 8 Minutes

I love medleys. They're the perfect fix for my musical attention deficit disorder. This one is especially clever, well played, and filled with nerdy in-jokes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Song: Another Glass

I'm working on something of a music video, but I'm not sure when I'll finish, so I'll post the song now.

I am almost certain that this chord progression is unoriginal, but I can't figure out what song I'm ripping off. I thought maybe the ending of The Usual Suspects, but doesn't seem so. I called it "Another Glass" because it is the second Philip Glass-ian song I've written.

The "Manzier" Finds Success in Japan

Only in Japan. And maybe New York.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Darwin Day Birthday Call

*************************************** *******
Prominent scientists will attend our call on Thursday, Feb 12 at 1pm New York time. Below are the names of our special guests - or those that have agreed to support our group and have their names listed below.

Sign-up here for the free seminar with some of the world's top scientists: (you have to click on this link to actually register for this - not enough to be registered on Facebook)

- Dr. George Amato, American Museum of Natural History
- Professor Andrew Baker, Columbia; Director, Coral Research Lab
- Professor Rodolfo Dirzo at Stanford
- Professor John Dowling at Harvard
- Dr. John Durant, MIT Museum
- Professor Marc Hauser at Harvard
- Professor Jonathan Losos at Harvard
- Professor Paul Olsen, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
- Professor Hidde Ploegh, Whitehead Institute, MIT
- Professor Peter Raven at Washington University, President Missouri Botanical Garden
- John Rennie, Editor-in-Chief, Scientific American
- Professor Maryellen Ruvolo at Harvard
- Professor Laurie Santos at Yale
- Professor Jonathan Weiner, Columbia (author "Beak of the Finch")

Again, on Thurs, Feb 12 group at 1pm New York time we will come together via free teleconference to hear from the scientists above ...sign-up here for the free seminar:


I've registered. You should too! This is a unique opportunity to listen to and, apparently, converse with leading scientists. And don't forget to join the facebook group celebrating Darwin's 200th birthday!

Monday, February 9, 2009


Mochi ice cream is a Japanese desert wrapped in a glutinous rice cake. I've seen it on the menu at several Japanese restaurants and the treat often pops up in anime, but I've never taken the dive and tried it.

Well that changed today! Thanks to a catchy little song, I recently learned that Trader Joe's sells 3 flavors of mochi. I picked up the strawberry flavor and...'s pretty good. Actually, the ice cream is delicious, but the rice cake shell is bland and unappetizing. Now, the box of 6 mochi only costs about $3.50, so maybe expectations about the quality of the pastry should be lowered. Regardless, I found myself wishing I could just remove the ice cream and eat it by itself.

The Superb Lyrebird

This video is an oldie, but a goodie. The Australian Lyrebird is one of Nature's most impressive mimics.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Derren Brown Has a Blog

How have I missed this for so long?!?

Even better, Derren has a new special "An Evening of Wonders."

Watch it on youtube

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Best of John Williams

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will highlight my favorite works from some of my favorite composers.
We start with the big man himself, Mr. John Williams. Now, Williams's early work is so iconic and so familiar that I won't bother providing samples of the more well-known themes from films like Star Wars, Superman, E.T., Jaws and Indiana Jones. Instead, I'll focus on his more recent work, as well as some older tracks that I believe are under appreciated.

On that note, here is "The Asteroid Field" from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

This is probably my favorite track from the original trilogy. John really hit his creative stride with Empire Strikes Back, which introduces Vader's infamous Imperial March, the battle of Hoth, Yoda's playful theme, and a frenetic ride through an asteroid field. There is an extended version of "The Asteroid Field" featured on this album, of which I recommend grabbing a copy. I think it just may be the quintessential space motif.

"Adventures on Earth" is my favorite arrangement of music from E.T. (and also featured on the above album) It is varied, infused with urgency and grandeur, and simply moving. One of my most favorite moments is from the 2 minute mark until 2:50.

Ever hear of a little Spielberg film called "Empire of the Sun"? No!? Well, it seems a lot of people have missed out on one of young Christian Bale's greatest movie roles. But more tragically, they've missed out on one of William's most uplifting and magical movie themes, "Cadillac of the Skies"

Now for the new stuff. Everyone is probably familiar with "Duel of Fates" from Star Wars Episode I, but I want to include it because I believe it is just as impressive as Orf's "O Fortuna" or Goldsmith's "Ave Satani." Even George Lucas seems to have noticed the brilliance of the piece because he uses it in all three films as well as during Yoda's battle with the Emperor in Episode III, which interrupts Williams's newer but less impressive track, "Battle of the Heroes." Here's the original: (which actually made it on VH1)

Although this next track from Minority Report entitled, "Anderton's Great Escape" trails off into uninteresting territory, the first 3/4's are pure powerhouse and some of Williams's best action writing to date. I love going to my brother's soccer games and listening to this track. The action tends to line up in uncanny ways.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite film in the series, and probably for one reason alone: John Williams's score. The leap he makes between this film and the first is akin to the leap between A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back in terms of variation and inventiveness. Narrowing down my favorite track from the album is difficult, but I think "Buckbeak's Flight" takes the cake.

Runners up include "Double Trouble" and "The Whomping Willow," but of course you could just listen to one of my favorite musical arrangements, the medley "Mischief Managed!"

I don't have this next track on my ipod, but it's a crying shame because when it came out, it was the one piece from AI: Artificial Intelligence that gave me hope that John Williams still had an impressive career ahead of him. It's the most poignant moment in the film, filled with dread and mystery. Here is "Abandoned in the Woods":

That wraps up this edition of "Best of" with John Williams. If there's a track you think I should include or would recommend, please add it in the comments!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Islam is the Light" and Other Infantile Babbling

Prepare yourself for a full onslaught of dumb:

It's fairly obvious that this audio clip, which sounds kind of like, "Islam is the light," is actually baby babbling from a cheap, one-time royalty fee sound collection. I worked with these kind of sound effects libraries in college. Why else would a baby toy and a shovelware Nintendo DS game have the exact same sound clip? The mother's Islamophobia has skewed her interpretation of an otherwise random audio recording in much the same way ghost hunters hear voices in static EVPs. This sort of auditory pareidolia is common.

But the idiocy of this utter lack of investigative reporting is not the worst of it. Implicit in this entire news segment is the notion that, somehow, a phrase like "Islam is the light" in a children's toy is inherently indecent and dangerous. Now, I'm not sure I entirely disagree, but any Muslim would be rightfully insulted.

Why am I not surprised that this newscast is from Indiana?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Maybe Religion Does Poison Everything

"Zuckerman proposes what he calls a "socio-religious irony." The world's great religions speak of caring for the sick, the poor, and the orphaned, and of practicing mercy and goodwill toward fellow humans, yet these traits are often more evident in the world's least religious nations."

From Christianity Today Magazine, review of Phil Zuckerman's Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment

Sociologist Phil Zuckerman chronicles 14 months spent in highly secular Scandinavian countries and discovers surprisingly compassionate and contented peoples largely free of the troubling ills of society --failing schools, child abuse, systemic poverty and inequitable healthcare-- that plague more religious nations like the United States. I'd recommend reading the whole review. The bias is fairly heavy handed, but the criticisms are mostly fair and reasonable.

The final paragraph of the review, however, is almost comic and underscores the moral dilemma of believing in an afterlife.

Zuckerman sells humanity short. If people are content but no longer care about transcendent meaning and purpose or life beyond death, that's not a sign of greatness but tragic forgetfulness. Their horizon of concern is too narrow. They were made for more. What does it profit a society if, as this book's jacket notes, it gains "excellent educational systems, strong economies, well-supported arts, free health care, egalitarian social policies, outstanding bike paths, and great beer," but loses its soul? Can a country build strong social systems and keep its soul?

Oh no! We can make progress on the eradication of suffering, but we'll have to stop pretending we're made of magic soul-stuff! It's not worth it!

By the way, I think more than a few Scandinavians would probably take issue with the implication that they no longer care about "transcendent meaning and purpose" just because they don't believe in an invisible man in the clouds.