August 30, 2006
Evil, Evil Spammers
I've just received over 8000 messages, all of them either failure to deliver notices or autoreplies from spam filtering programs. It seems someone has spoofed my email address for a mass mailing. If you got a spam email from an address ending in johntabin.com, it wasn't my fault. If you sent me an important email and I haven't responded, there's a chance it was lost while I was busy cleaning out my mailbox, so please resend it.
August 18, 2006
The Importance of a Title
I have just returned from the first local showing of Snakes on a Plane, starring Samuel L. Jackson. It featured three key elements:
A) Samuel L. Jackson battling
C) on a Plane.
Normally, I'm something of a stickler for verisimilitude. It drives me nuts that Cillian Murphy is way too young to be a head doctor at a mental hospital in Batman Begins, for example. But in a movie that goes by the name Snakes on a Plane, profound violations of logic, zoology, and physics are part of the campy charm. That the studio actually toyed with changing the name to Pacific Air Flight 121 is remarkable; under that banner, it would have been just another bad movie. But with the title Snakes on a Plane, it's just about perfect.
August 08, 2006
A Tale of Two Elections
My AmSpec column today looks at today's races in Georgia and Connecticut.
August 05, 2006
Friends & Family Watch
Robbie Wokler, my dad's college roommate and longtime friend, passed away last weekend. His academic accomplishments were significant enough to earn a nice obituary in the Times of London, declaring it "an indictment of the university system that a scholar of his calibre never held a chair." Over at the liberal group blog Crooked Timber, University of Bristol philosophy professor Chris Bertram laments the loss of a fellow Rousseau expert. RIP.
Speaking of academics, my cousin Cliff and his team at Harvard have discovered a genetic explanation for the variations in finches that Darwin observed.
Using a genetic analysis technique called DNA microarray analysis to study the differences between five species of finch, they found that the longer, pointed beaks contained more calmodulin, a protein molecule that binds calcium in cells.That's right, science has unlocked the secret recipe for genetically engineered huge-beaked superchickens. Can this technology be weaponized?
To confirm their findings, the team -- led by Clifford Tabin of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts --, used genetic manipulation to increase the level of calmulodin in the beaks of chicken embryos.
The chickens were born with pointy beaks that were 10-percent longer than normal.