A pad thai western

May 5, 2007

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a wonderfully strange Thai take on the classic Spaghetti Western genre yesterday: Tears of Black Tiger (Thai: ฟ้าทะลายโจร, or Fah talai jone, literally, “the heavens strike the thief”). It’s a very odd mix of standard melodramatic romantic elements, with a generous sprinkling of Tarantino-esque comic violence, all suffused in a billowing cloud of hyperreal tobacco-chewing, six-shooter dueling, 10 gallon hat wearing Western cliches. Check out the trailer here:


As you probably know by now, Dresden bombing survivor and towering literary genius of the later 20th century Kurt Vonnegut died earlier week after suffering a fall. You’ve undoubtedly heard a lot about Vonnegut in the past few days, but here’s something you probably haven’t seen before:

The postcard was sent to Mr. Gregory after he “sent him [Vonnegut] a graduation announcement, with a silly note saying something to the effect that I would not have made it [to graduation] without him.” Besides writing wonderfully quirky novels bathed in dark wit, Vonnegut a generally hilarious human being. Here are some samples of things you may not have known about the Mark Twain of the 20th century:

  • – In an interview in 2003 with In These Times Vonnegut was asked if he had any ideas for a really scary reality TV show. To which he replied: “‘C-students from Yale.’ It would stand your hair on end.”
  • – (From Wikipedia): Vonnegut reportedly smoked Pall Mall cigarettes, unfiltered, which he claimed is a “classy way to commit suicide.”
  • – Cat’s Cradle was accepted as Vonnegut’s thesis earning him a Master of the Arts in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.
  • – (From Wikipedia): In Chapter 18 of his book Palm Sunday “The Sexual Revolution,” Vonnegut grades his own works. He states that the grades “do not place me in literary history” and that he is comparing “myself with myself.” The grades are as follows:
  • – And last but certainly not least is one of my favorite Vonnegut quotes, which is quite apropos: “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.

So I’ll spare the blogosphere any additional, ill-formed pontifications for the day and simply share with you my top seven physics cartoons. Why seven you ask, as opposed to the canonical 10? Well the short answer is, I couldn’t find 10 that were notable enough. The long answer is too long, but suffice it to say that seven has lots of nice features. Not only has its glyph stayed relatively constant since it was first used by the Hindus, but it’s also the number of spots found on a common ladybug.


The solution to failing schools…?

How (more than) half of all theoretical high-energy particle physicists end up:

In typically Gary Larson fashion, this one speaks for itself:

Yet another reason why not to trust an experimentalist with a cat (or anything else that breathes):

Alex Kusenko ended his talk at UC Irvine on sterile neutrinos with this very apropos cartoon:

And of course, a very elegant and general method for solving any physics problem:

Okay, the last one isn’t really a cartoon, but it’s just too amusing not to put on the list. Someone actually put that on an exam! Zero points is a little harsh though. They should get a a point or two at least for having such an elegant and creative solution.