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A Life Aquatic, Spanglish, Meet the Fockers...


I've seen three movies so far this winter break, and enjoyed each of them more than I expected (starting with the best):

  • A Life Aquatic - This is the latest Wes Anderson film, and it looks like that he's getting all the resources he needs to produce a really entertaining, luxurious flick. I mean it when I say luxurious... from the production to photography to props, this film is a joy to watch and it would be hard to find anything disappointing about it. I found myself trying my best to notice all the little details in each shot, but it's impossible with such a cool, unpredictable plot. There's no pandering to the reality police in this movie, much is done with full recognizance that the plot and characters are completely separated from reality. Which is why this film is so good: it's not attempting to tell a real story, rather it seems like one of your most lucid, best dreams made into a movie.

  • Spanglish - Adam Sandler can act! And he's pretty damn good! This film was a really neat mix of Mexican and American culture and values... and the underlying theme, that of amorous distractions while one is in a committed relationship, is really powerful. And it's about damn time that Paz Vega got on the American big screen... she's super-hot and súper-española.

  • Meet the Fockers - I'm a sucker for low-brow movies... I liked Meet the Parents and this sequel was a pretty good follow-up (although I'd wait for it to come out on DVD). Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman we're really good in this flick. You'll be saying, "But honey, I'm really in the mood for a chimichanga!" for a while (where "chimichanga" is pronounced: chih-mee-chang-uh). This movie reminds me of what Michelle and my wedding might be like if we ever decide to do that... that is, both of our parents are divorced, some remarried. In short, not fun.

UPDATE [2004-12-31 10:36]: I just realized I had misspelled "Fockers" as "Fokers". How did I notice this? Well, NQB was the highest-ranked hit on MSN search for the queries "meet the fokers" and "meet the fokers review". Of course, Google is smart-enough to suggest "Fockers".

Cassini, Huygens, Titan...

space, astrophysics, research

So the Huygens probe will detach, by firing explosive bolts, from the Cassini Spacecraft today. ("/.: Cassini Robot Lab Successfully Separates") A significant part of my past involved astrophysics, a Master's in such from Berkeley Astronomy and a ton of research involving comparative planetology... most notably, the weather of Saturn's moon Titan.

Here's why Titan is so cool... and why you should pay attention on January 14 when the Huygens probe, released from Cassini today, makes its descent into Titan's atmosphere (Feel free to ask questions in the comments):

Titan is the second-largest moon in our solar system after Ganymede of Jupiter. It has a gigantic atmosphere -- 1.5 times as massive as Earth's! -- and one of only 4 rocky bodies in our solar system with a significant atmosphere (the others are Venus, Earth and Mars). Titan's atmosphere is 90% Nitrogen gas and appears to be very similar to Earth's early atmosphere, with one large difference: instead of a hydrologic cycle with H20 clouds, rain and seas, Titan has methane and ethane clouds, rain and bodies of liquid hydrocarbons (propane, gasoline, acetylene, etc.) on its surface. My undergraduate adviser, Caitlin Griffith, was the leading theorist and observer (she's a bit of both) that argued for this methane cycle... we found evidence of clouds -- see our old Science paper ("Detection of Daily Clouds on Titan" (PDF)) -- and this small amount of cloud coverage has been confirmed by Cassini (see, "Probe sees Titan's Methane Clouds").

So, what's the most intriguing question we still have about Titan? Modulo the recent surface observations, which are weird, I would say it is: What has been able to replenish such a massive atmosphere over time, as in equilibrium it should float off into space because Titan is too small to have enough gravity to hold onto it?

Breaking News: WA Supreme Court Allows Counting of King County Ballots...

elections, news, politics, litigation

The Washington Supreme Court has reversed the ruling of the lower (superior) court and will allow King County to count ("recanvass") the 700+ votes that were recently found to have been improperly rejected (Washington State Republican Party vs. King County et al.):

We grant review and reverse the superior court.

This is a good decision.

It all basically boils down to the letter of the law, the "recanvassing" statute (RCW 29A.60.210):

Whenever the canvassing board finds that there is an apparent discrepancy or an inconsistency in the returns of a primary or election, the board may recanvass the ballots or voting devices in any precincts of the county. (emphasis added)

Was there a "discrepancy" in the "returns?" Well, the Court uses a past descision1 construing this statute to define discrepancy and uses another statute2 to define "official returns". The Court determines that yes there was an "actual discrepancy" in the King County returns and so recanvassing of the newly found votes would be proper.

1State ex rel. Doyle v. Superior Court of King County, 138 Wash. 488, 244 Pac. 702 (1926)
2RCW 29A.60.120(3)

Posting to be light lite lyte...


I just finished the last paper of the semester... tomorrow I'm off to visit my Mom in Las Cruces, veinte millas desde México con mi hermano que visita a nosotros desde Pánama. Él es un voluntario del Peace Corps.

It's time to take a break... I won't be back here blogging for a bit, probably until close to New Year's Eve.

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