Dialing Theron Number

Earlier today, I was at Best Buy looking for a new home phone.  (Disclaimer: A telephone is a device for transmitting audio messages from one person to another using an advanced form of communications called “complete sentences”.  Kids, text your parents about it.)

The phones that were out of the boxes all had a sticker over the display, showing the large, friendly character font for the caller ID, indicating how easily you can tell that your old friend UNAVAILABLE is calling from UNKNOWN NUMBER.

In this case, all of the phones had the same sticker, indicating that a call was coming in from Charlie Johnson at 800-222-3111.  However, in my haste, I misread the name.  In one of my Duck of the Day moments, I swore that the name on the incoming call was Charlize Theron.

Note to the good people in marketing at AT&T: People (or maybe just me and a few others) would be much more likely to buy AT&T land line phones if they included receiving calls from Charlize Theron (shown below trying to make a phone call, possibly to an AT&T land line subscriber).

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Author’s Note: In the course of doing research for this post (Disclaimer: looking for a picture of Charlize Theron holding a phone), I discovered the picture below.

 

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Apparently, in her younger days, Charlize Theron was Scarlett Johansson.  (Disclaimer: A land line that receives calls from Scarlett Johansson would also have marketing potential.)

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Unsettling science

In big news, Science was caught on an open microphone suggesting that space aliens are enormous, causing a firestorm of controversy that threatens the relationship between Science and the space alien community.

In a paper, cosmologist Fergus Simpson quoted Science as saying that aliens, if they exist, are likely huge, with an average weight of 650 pounds, or about 6 Kate Beckinsales (shown below).  The argument relies on a mathematical model that assumes organisms on other planets don’t care what you say about them, as long as you have a mathematical model.

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One representative of the alien community (top, right) denied that his race were interstellar behemoths, or that they exist, insisting that they were standing next to some deceptively small trees when the picture was taken.  The alien was granted anonymity because he was self-conscious about his size.  “Don’t look at me, I’m huge!  And I don’t exist!” he said.

In a hastily arranged press conference, Simpson said that Science had been taken out of context.  “All Science was saying is that, throughout the universe, there are likely more small animals than large ones.  There are many small ants, for example, but far fewer whales or elephants.  Therefore, aliens are huge,  QED!”

“I think the average size calculation is reasonable,” says Duncan Forgan, a scientist at the University of St. Andrews who wasn’t involved in the paper.  “But then again, I wasn’t involved in the paper.  I’m not even sure what paper you’re talking about.  I’m just trying to find the Petheram Bridge car park.  Stop interviewing me!”  As reporters chased him to his car, Forgan shouted that the paper “doesn’t address the correlation between body mass and the planet’s surface gravity,” before he tried to run them down and flee the scene.

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The gaffe drew swift criticism from Hot and Bright Star Danica McKellar (shown above improving the self-esteem of teenage girls at the Barbizon School of Mathematical Modeling).  McKellar, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on giant cosmic butterflies, told reporters that her mathematical models say intelligent aliens could be as small as 3 Kiera Knightleys (below).  “And this mathematical model is so powerful and self-assured that if you change this 3 to an 8, you can prove that global warming is creating ants the size of elephants, without having to use any Science at all!”

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Researcher Seth Shostak says the paper reminded him of previous work he had done suggesting that any extraterrestrials we might eventually find would be on the larger side.  “It’s interesting, but there’s really no concrete data to work with.  Science also didn’t take into account any kind of evolutionary theories.  Add in that whole bit about body mass and surface gravity, and it becomes clear that Science is just being kind of a jerk.”  He explained that Science likes to cultivate this bad-boy persona because it drives mathematical models wild.

Shostak, a researcher for the Science, Engineering and Technology Insults (SETI) Institute, took a gratuitous swipe at the Ursine-American community.  “Polar bears are large but do not write great literature and build radio towers,” he slandered.  When asked what that had to do with intelligent aliens, he admitted that he was simply trying to get the attention of Danica McKellar and her hot mathematical model friends.  Ms. McKellar later said that she found his comments offensive and intriguing.

Click here to read about the whole brouhaha.

Sugar-coating the past

Brontosaurus (above) as it was thought to have looked in the 19th century – semi-aquatic with rich orange chocolate surrounding a crunchy dinosaur-bone center.

In dinomenclature news, paleontologists were dealt a major setback after another failed attempt to convince people there are more than six kinds of dinosaurs.

Every child learns that there are six types of giant prehistoric lizards (Tyrannosaurus Rex, brontosaurus, stegosaurus, triceratops, pterodactyl, and Houseasaurus).  Scientists classify these animals as dinosaurs (from the Latin dinosaur “thing that’s a dinosaur”).  Another category of creatures, called nameosaurs (such as Bambiraptor and Draconex hogwartsia), consist of vanity species discovered by putting two random bones next to each other and giving it a cute name in a bid for grant money.

Brontosaurus was discovered by prolific paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh during the Bone Wars of the 19th century — the rivalry between Marsh and fellow paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope over grant money that was responsible for over 650,000 deaths worldwide.

In 1879 Marsh announced that he had found two almost complete skeletons at Como Bluff in Wyoming — missing, crucially, their skulls.  He modeled the skull on the skull of another dinosaur he had found – also a brontosaurus — and called one of the skeletons Brontosaurus excelsus, or “brontosaurus that is complete now that it has a head”.  The other one was named Mabel, after his mother.

But in 1903, after Marsh’s death, another brontosaurus was discovered that resembled both Mabel and Cope’s cousin Marjorie.  Paleontologist Elmer Riggs concluded that there were not enough differences between Mabel and Marjorie to warrant two different genera, so he folded the brontosaurus into the latter, renaming it Apatosaurus excelsus — “folded brontosaurus”.

The name stuck around, though — until the 1970s, when researchers discovered a triceratops femur laying next to a half-eaten chicken wing and subsequently named it Apatosaurus after filmmaker Judd Apatow, who was still in middle school at the time.  (Apatow later directed a movie about the discovery called The 40,000,000 Year Old Virgin, starring Steve Carell as Elmer Riggs, Seth Rogen as the triceratops, and Paul Rudd as the guy who ordered chicken wings.)

Emanuel Tschopp, a Swiss national, led the study at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal.  (Disclaimer: The Old University of Lisbon in Portugal was wiped out by a meteor impact 65 million years ago.  Their PhD program was closed down a few years later.)

The 300-page study examines 81 different brontosaurus skeletons, 49 of which do not include triceratops femurs or chicken wings, across 477 morphological characters using statistical approaches to establish a boundary between species and genera — making it the most extensive use of technobabble to justify playing with dinosaur bones ever completed.

“This detailed data on Diplodicidae (brontosauruses) led us to three main findings: first, we found conclusive evidence for an additional new genus, which we call Galeamopus (‘Gale stuck a brontosaurus skull on a mop handle’).  Second, Supersaurus, a genus of brontosaurus previously known from Smallville alone, now also includes the Metropolis genus Dinheirosaurus (the so-called ‘last brontosaurus of Krypton’),” Tschopp said.

“And finally, we found that the differences between Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus are primarily due to plot holes and continuity errors in Judd Apatow’s film that totally ruin the mise-en-scène.”  Study co-author Roger Benson noted that he and Tschopp have no idea what a mise-en-scène is, or how it got ruined.

Most dinosaurs are thought to have died out from diabetic comas caused by eating too many chocolate-covered brontosauruses.  Excavations near the La Brea Fudge Pits outside Los Angeles suggest that brontosaurs became extinct because it was too hard to breathe with their heads encased in rich, creamy milk chocolate.

Click here to read the original story.