Tangential Science: it's not necessarily science, but it's still funny.

1. Pity poor Conde Nast.  Not only are they going to lose $200 million in 2009, meaning Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair may have to limit himself to one personal driver while he jets off to expensive dinners on his expense account, but now a blogger on the Internet has gone after Wired because, surprise, their coverage of science is not all that great.

Well, is it supposed to be?   I thought they were a tech and culture magazine.  Sure, it's fun to kick them or New Scientist around when they throw out something ridiculous for pageviews but why get upset about it?   If people aren't smart enough to read here they deserve whatever inferior quality they get.

Speaking of pageviews, please get a bigger audience so I can afford hair that looks like Graydon Carter (left).  Currently I can only afford hair that looks like Giovanni Jones from "Long Haired Hare" - on the right, if your Boolean logic is not working so well today.

Graydon Carter versus Giovanni Jones
Please help Hank get better hair by putting this article on Digg.

Back on topic, Miriam Goldstein, a graduate student in marine biology, writing in Wired Magazine's 10 Inane Misunderstandings of Evolution, proclaims "Sometimes reading science media makes me hate being a scientist."   First, Miriam, what in the heck are you doing reading Wired if bad science journalism bothers you?   They're good writers, they like to have fun, but if Conde Nast didn't own both Wired And Reddit.com they would never get any real traffic.  If you want really bad science journalism, read the New York Times or AP.

Second, why would someone's crappy writing make a scientist dislike science? Do chefs hate cooking if Martha Stewart has a bad magazine article? The site she is on is called DoubleX.com and any time I see a reference to homogametic sex, I think 'angry' - and I am never wrong.    It's top story is Lady Gadgets Gone Wild: Which One Is the Vibrator of the Future? so you can see they are truly the new benchmark for quality science journalism.

2. Obama's diplomatic magic has already worked!    4,500 hotel owners across the world took a recent survey and declared the French as the worse tourists to have to endure.  Prior to January 20, 2009 I would have thought it was Americans because George Bush was still president.   Heck, the British even dress better than the French, results said. That's a pretty strong result, even for a guy with a puppet Congress.

3. Mayans are the new Prius.   I can't open up a magazine (okay, I don't get Vanity Fair, so maybe there) without seeing something about how great Mayans were.

When I was a kid, the Mayans were famous for binding infant skulls with boards to give them a big forehead and doing everything they could to be cross-eyed.   Now they are supposedly so cool they are going to end the world because one of their three calendars has a date coming up.   They believed in human sacrifice, people.  They lived for the eschaton.  An end of the world prediction is nothing new for them.

But fringe kooks love these guys - the weirder the better.  Someone calling himself a paleoethnobotanist in Cincinnati even says they invented forest conservation.

The Mayans also believed the universe is made up of thirteen layers, each with its own deity.  I think that's pretty cool.  Want religion to make a comeback?   Make it a card game where kids can trade them and face off in tabletop combat for rulership of the pantheon.

I'll take Chac, the rain god, because we never get rain in Sacramento.

4. How much will fixing that hole in Jupiter cost?  In case you didn't know yet, something slammed into Jupiter and made a mark so big even NASA JPL had to look after an amateur spotted it.   Brian Williams, NBC anchor, is plainly concerned and says they are "not sure what anyone can do about it" in this despondent clip:

Wha ...?  That's Bush-era thinking!   Obama can do anything.   Look for the French to be implicated in Jupiter's gaping hole by Friday and the Senate Finance Committee to have a stimulus package going before Congress adjourns.