Friday, September 30, 2011

Just Trying to Help

Farhad Manjoo has an interesting series of articles on Slate, explaining that even non-killer robots may disrupt our puny human lives, since they're getting better and better at doing our jobs.

We're used to seeing robots assembling automobiles and so forth, which for those of us who didn't once have jobs on automobile assembly lines may seem like a distant threat, but it turns out that robots (a term which, for purposes of this series, seems to include software programs) are also showing potential in other fields, like certain medical specialities, law and journalism.

As a librarian, I've been reportedly teetering on the verge of being replaced by the internet for as long as I've been working, so I certainly feel the potential pain of physicians, pharmacists, lawyers and journalists. Computers do make it different.

For the moment, there are all sorts of things that still call for human interaction, but once robots become charming and personable, as well as tireless and efficient? It's all over.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Banning It Just Makes Me Want It More

I think I'm missing Banned Books Week. Sorry! My bad. Go read some banned books, everyone!

I was not organized enough to get any out of the library ahead of time, and I don't actually think I own any of the better known much-banned books, but I'm totally reading them on the street in my mind right now.


In my experience, you don't run into many of those book challenges in a medical library, so it's not right at the forefront of our minds.

We did have a copy of Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (a faculty donation from years ago) go missing, and I wondered if someone might not have made off with it because they felt it wasn't appropriately science-based, but it could just as easily have been mis-shelved, or maybe someone made off with it because they thought it was awesome.

In any case, there was no formal complaint about it, so I can't cite its disappearance as evidence for anything.

But yeah, that's my harrowing tale. I hope you can all manage to get to sleep tonight.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's What I'd Do

Random thing I love today:

The citizens in L.A. Noire who, when you commandeer their vehicles with a brusque "Police emergency! Out of the car!" say "not on your life, buster!" even as they're obediently climbing out of the car.

So I'd say the main lesson of this game so far is that it's important to strongly express your dissatisfaction with a situation you find unfair, even if you don't feel it worth taking any real action over.

Complaining without doing anything! Truly a classic.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Carrot Lies Unmasked!

The Scientopia Guest Blogge now has an ophthalmologist explaining that the reason we've all heard that carrots are good for your eyesight is because the Royal Air Force deliberately lied about it during World War II.

Shocking! However, as all's fair in love and war, it was justified at the time. The alternative would have been to admit the truth about newly developed radar technology, which (rather than good eyesight due to prodigious carrot-eating) was helping RAF pilots hit enemy targets at night.

Instead, we got an elaborate fiction about carrots being good for your vision, which still echoes today.

At least now we know the truth. Thanks, cherylmurphy!

Of course, when I go to explain the truth to someone else later I'll probably have forgotten most of the details, and I'll wind up passing on an even weirder fiction, something about how carrots enhance radar detection at high altitudes, and then that will echo through the generations. This is why it's so hard to counter misinformation on the internet.

Monday, September 26, 2011


An advantage of being busy is that things that happen on a periodic basis and that you look forward to seem to happen more frequently.

For example, an issue of Knights of the Dinner Table magazine arrived today, and it seems like we just got one. Nice!

I hadn't even had time to get around to rereading the last issue a couple of times, and then sighing with boredom because there was nothing new, and tapping my fingers impatiently, and all that stuff I would do if I had a lot of time on my hands to spend waiting for issues of my gaming magazine to arrive.

Instead, they just pop up every so often. Approximately once a month, I suppose. Still, a pleasant surprise every time.

Of course, things that happen on a periodic basis that you don't particularly look forward to may also seem to happen more frequently. Rent is coming due? No fair, we just paid that.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Disturbing Health Issue of the Day

You know, I've been successfully chewing and swallowing food for many years in the course of ingesting the nutrients needed to fuel the ongoing processes that sustain life. One would think I would have achieved a certain skill level.

Yet today, as I was eating lunch, I carelessly bit right into the side of my tongue while chewing. There's a painful chomp mark on it right now.

I have failed at eating. Nice work, me.

Well, sometimes you roll a one.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Ugh. It's entirely too warm and stuffy for this time of year.

I'm swooning alternately under the weight of my hot computer, and of my knitting.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Novelty! Again

I've never dyed my hair, but reading this Slate piece about the repeated surging and fading of pink as a popular hair color, suddenly I'm tempted.

The common wisdom is (or at least it was when I was young) that redheads shouldn't wear pink, but I think that's supposed to be because it clashes with the shade of the hair. Surely if you just turn the hair itself pink, there's no concern.

Redheads tend to be pale and pinkish of skin tone anyway, so pinkness of hair should go very nicely. As long as it doesn't all blur together. Flesh-colored hair, on a pinkish-fleshed person, isn't an especially pretty mental picture. A sort of interesting one, I guess.

But the right shade of pink...that could really liven things up at work. Finally cement my reputation as someone on the cutting edge of style.

In which case I'd better not do it, that would just be disorienting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Down in the Valley

I was talking to an ultrasound technician the other day--after the huge piles of cold hard cash, the talking to lots of interesting people is why I got into librarianship--and she said something I liked.

She said that they can do this 3D-style imaging of fetuses in the womb now, and that of course expectant parents always want to see them, but that she always recommends they not look at the 18-week images (although they always do anyway) because they're creepy-looking.

She said they're actually less creepy at 13 weeks, when the fetus looks less human, because at that stage it's sort of cute in an alien-blob sort of way, while at 18 weeks they're more human-looking, but also more weird.

"The uncanny valley!" I thought immediately.

For those not familiar, the uncanny valley is a theory that suggests that we find things more appealing the more human they look--right up until they reach a certain point, when we find them disturbing instead.

At that point, there in this uncanny valley, they're close enough to human that we sort of mistake them for human at a glance, but far enough away that we realize they aren't, and that makes us find them weird and wrong and super creepy.

You mostly see it used in reference to humanoid robots, and to characters in video games and CG animated movies, but I kind of like the idea that people also traverse the uncanny valley in the flesh on the way to being born.

As a not-very-developed embryo, with a vague general resemblance to a human, you might observe a sort of big-headed, spindly-limbed, weird charm. But as the fetus develops, acquiring more of the familiar characteristics of humanity, but still not having them all, it becomes faintly creepy-looking.

Also, of course, the resolution of the 3D images, compared to the classic, slightly fuzzy black and white ones, helps push the fetus into the uncanny valley by letting you see enough detail to notice how like/unlike a familiar human it looks.

It's all about the computer graphics, as usual.

At least that's my rough theory based on what the ultrasound tech said. I haven't seen a lot of 3D ultrasound images myself, and the ones I found online all look pretty equally creepy to me (here are some), so it could be a theory without basis in fact.

Nevertheless, I like it, so I'm going to assume, based on my extremely limited understanding of embryology and fetal development, that's it's totally plausible. As long as I never learn anything else about the subject, my theory should be untouchable.

Yup. That's how science works, people.

By which I mean, that's the opposite of how science works. Let my bad example be a terrifying warning to you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ancient Humor

So Don't Ask Don't Tell is now gone, and the profound thought I had is:

Will we still be able to laugh at the scene in The Simpsons when Homer's trying to join the military, and there's a question on the form that's been crossed out, but he of course reads through the ink and says cheerfully "But I'm not a homosexual!" and the recruiter has his hands over his ears and is singing "Lalala, I am not listening!"

Or will it no longer make sense, and we'll just yawn and look away?

Hahahaha! Yes, still funny. I sometimes quote that singsong "lalala, I am not listening!" line when I'm trying not to hear something.

I think the absurdity of it, as a historical artifact, will continue to entertain.

And that's a relief. I need to have some constants in my life.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pick a Level

There's an interesting post on Sociological Images about how, as the middle class shrinks, your clever companies (Procter & Gamble is the main example cited) may start to focus their advertising on bargain brands and luxury brands, with not much in between.

They've got a clip from a financial show and everything.

It makes sense as a business strategy, I guess. If there's hardly any middle class, there's no point trying to sell it much.

Well, I know which side of the vast wealth chasm I'm ending up on.

On a librarian's cushy salary? Straight to the luxury market, baby! Gold-plated caviar every day! That's the only reason I got into this line of work.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ding Dong!

Slate has an article up asking "Who Killed 3-D?"

It speculates on the possible guilt of:
  1. Greedy theaters charging higher premiums for 3D tickets than customers are willing to pay;
  2. Greedy film studios doing a lousy job of turning regular films into 3D films and hence weakening the value of the novel technology;
  3. Smart customers realizing the novel technology isn't really all that awesome and deciding not to pay for it;
  4. Lousy filmmakers making bad movies and weakening the value of the novel technology because there's nothing worth seeing in it.

My response: I'm just glad it's dead!

Well, it's actually not completely dead, but revenues for 3D movies are apparently declining dramatically compared to the 2D versions of the same movies. That is, more people are going to see the regular versions of something than are choosing to pay extra for 3D.

I know I'm not paying extra. 3D is welcome to die for all I care.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

No, Wikipedia is Not the Devil

Where I work, when we teach students about the various types of resources that are useful for academic research, we like to mention Wikipedia. We like to bring it up because everyone uses it, which is fine as long as you don't just stop there.

This post on SF Novelists, although discussing a different sort of research from what most medical students will be undertaking, nicely sums up what's good and not as good about Wikipedia for research, with a nice breakdown of the main types of problems you tend to see with articles there (roughly, arguments over subjects on which people have strong and divergent opinions; sloppy and/or incomplete articles where someone just tossed something on the page so there'd be a page there; and outright vandalism, where people add incorrect and/or irrelevant information to an article on purpose for the heck of it).

It also discusses the ways Wikipedia is useful (broad range of articles, easy to hop from one topic to another, and even the incorrect information can sometimes lead you to useful additional resources).

I may just refer students to this piece in future, and save myself 10 minutes of talking. While they're reading it, I can be reading internet comics. Everyone wins!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Brain Wallpaper

My yarn arrived at last, so I can set to knitting!

Knitting keeps my hands full, and means I can't be reading or mousing around the internet all the time, so I expect I'll have to catch up on all kinds of questionable movies, just to have something going in the background.

I can only be alone with my thoughts and my knitting for so long before being overwhelmed by all those questions about whether or not I put the right subject headings on that thesis, or managed a truly comprehensive search in that database, not to mention the dreadful tremors occasioned by reflection on all the stuff that has to go up into the archives lest my office become impassable...well, it gets pretty grim.

That's when random movies you've never heard of, or had heard of but never contemplated going to see, can suddenly seem like a brilliant idea.

Almost as brilliant as folding your socks down to cover up holes in the heel!

Oh no, I'm not letting that one die.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

xkcd Totally Supports My Sock Plan

xkcd has some useful perspective for people (ahem--no one I personally know) who reflexively seek out the money-saving options in life.

xkcd, Creative Commons license.

I did consider the value of my time before concluding it's not worth it to me to darn my socks, even though I could save a few cents by getting a little more use out of them before I eventually have to buy more.

On the contrary, folding the top down over the heel, as I propose, takes mere seconds, much less than would be involved in any form of sock-shopping. This is why it's brilliant.

All that's sacrificed is any kind of style around the ankle region, but to be honest, this has never been an area of vanity for me.

If I can extend the useful life of each pair of socks by just a few days, delaying the purchase of new ones, it will eventually add up to fewer total socks purchased in the course of my life, thus less time spent purchasing socks, and thus more time to read internet comics.

You can't argue with that logic. Because I forbid it.

I don't think anyone would argue that more time for internet comics is not a glorious win. For me, but also for the ideals of right and goodness in the universe at large.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No Rest for the Footed

Good news, everyone! I've hit on a way to extend the life of my socks!

You know how the heel of the sock is generally the first thing to go? Often, even if the rest of the sock is still in pretty good shape, there will be a big hole in the heel that makes it uncomfortable to wear.

In the old days, we (or our hard-working mothers) might have darned these holes, basically weaving a little extra fabric out of thread to patch it up, and this is good honest labor, but honestly it takes more time than it's worth to me anymore.

And yet, I still wish to pull the last fraying threads of usefulness from every piece of clothing!

What to do?

This trick doesn't work with ankle socks, or very short socks, but I find that if your hole-heeled sock goes a bit of the way up the leg, say to mid-calf or so, you can just roll the 'neck' of the sock down, over the heel.

You have to pull it pretty far down, so it tucks under the heel of your foot, otherwise it will just ride up. This stretches the neck of the sock out and wrecks the elastic, but since we're already talking about socks you don't wear because there are holes in the heels, I don't think this is a huge problem.

I've crafted this fine illustration to explain the simple brilliance of the scheme.

Now you have wrinkly, uneven ankle socks (because there's more fabric in front), and you're walking on a tiny ridge of fabric, but at least your shoes won't be chafing your heels through the holes.

Brilliant, right? I'm sure someone else has thought of this already, but they couldn't be bothered to share it with the class, so I had to come up with it on my own.

Some people may be thinking, at this point, "why don't you just go buy new socks?"

And I wish it were that easy. I really do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Math Plus Cow Equals Awesome

OMG everyone, you have got to check this out. maskoferis, on the Scientopia Guest Blogge, explains mathematics concepts "by replacing scary words ("tensoriffic polynome productions!") with cows."

It is magnificent.

I, sadly, understand very little math. I have learned algebra three different times, and always thought it was kind of fun while I was doing it, but immediately forgot it once the class was over. Possibly if more cows had been involved, I would remember it better.

Alternatively, if I had ever used it outside of the classes I learned it for I would also probably remember it better, but cows could only improve the odds.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grasping at Wet Straws

At last, a possible answer to the age-old question of why fingers get all prune-y in the bathtub, dishpan, swimming pool [insert other instances of water in which hands might be submerged, as desired].

The NYT Well blog reports on a theory that wrinkly fingers and toes are better at gripping things. Cause they're all textured. Like a tread on a shoe, say.

It's almost too simple, isn't it? Why didn't I think of that?

I mean, aside from the fact that I really never thought much about wrinkly fingers and toes in the first place. Sometimes actually asking the question is the most important step.

Not that the actual research wasn't also interesting. You can read the paper online, at least right now, and it's full of nifty illustrations showing that finger wrinkles line up in such a way as might be expected to allow for optimal drainage of water from the fingertip surface, the better to grab presumably slippery wet things.

Fish. Cranberries. Baseballs in the rain. Children trying to flee the bathtub. Your cell phone that you just dropped in the sink.

I am all over the fact that someone decided to write a paper about this, and hope that their proposed future research is full of solid data and novel conclusions. They want to do behavioral studies to test whether wrinkled fingers in fact possess superior gripping capacity to unwrinkled ones, and I think that's research we could all be part of, in our own way!

My proposed experimental design is as follows:

Start by juggling some wet wine glasses when your hands are dry and your fingertips are smooth, then try again after soaking your hands for about five minutes in water until they get wrinkly.

Count the number of dropped glasses after each attempt. You might want to video record the whole thing, so you can also count near-fumbles.

This will have several exciting results:

  • Delicious brand new data for crunching
  • Thrilling crashes
  • Sparkly broken glass
  • Potential gory injury, hence edge-of-the-seat suspense for viewers

OK, I'll admit it, I'm both designing an experiment and trying to appeal to the thrill-seeking youth of today. This is something that has serious YouTube potential, everyone.

If you fill the wet wine glasses with wads of colorful burning paper, even more so. If they're wet because they've been washed with gasoline...I need to go lie down before the excitement overcomes me.

I am generously making this experimental design available to anyone who would like to carry it out, asking not so much as a co-authorship in return. In fact, don't even mention my name in the references. I'm very modest.

Regardless of the form the behavioral studies eventually take, however, I look forward to one day learning more about whether or not wrinkled fingers are grippy fingers.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Game Night in the Lair

Since none of my legions of devoted followers will deign to live close enough to me to come over and play board games of an evening, my gracious spouse and I decided to try playing Arkham Horror with just the two of us.

This game is awesome, so you should come over and play, but it is also pretty hard to win. I've already been in the Asylum four times after facing horrors too awful to describe, and the Ancient One is going to awaken any minute now.

A fun thing about Arkham Horror is that you're not competing with your fellow player(s); you're both competing with hordes of monsters, cultists, and random gangs of thugs in an attempt to stop an ancient evil from rising and consuming the entire town, so it's a cooperative twist on the board game idea that is a bit different. You all win or lose together.

At the moment, we're clinging to life and sanity by a thread. It doesn't look good. On the other hand, I still have my trusty tommy gun, and if there's one quality you look for in a barely-sane gangster, it's a good relationship with a reliable tommy gun.

Wish us luck.

As feared, our scrappy two-person team of gangster and stage magician was eventually devoured by a horror from another world. It was close, though! We were within a single turn of victory when the beast awakened, so it could really have gone either way.

As it turned out, it went the wrong way. But sometimes that happens when you start poking around in mysteries the human mind was not built to comprehend.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Things I Miss Not Reading Blogs

I hear yesterday was the 45th anniversary of Star Trek (first broadcast September 8, 1966). And I missed it. If I'd known, I'd have baked a cake. Or at least thought about baking a cake.

The original series streams on Netflix now (as well as Next Generation), so I was watching some of those episodes a while ago.

They are exactly as wonderful as I remembered from when I watched the show in re-runs at my grandparents' house when I was a kid, although for somewhat different reasons. Amazingly dated in so many ways, frequently ridiculous, but also optimistic, sometimes thought-provoking, and just plain interesting.

Science fiction on television? Brilliant!

Second only to anything featuring Bugs Bunny (not that there was actually competition, since Bugs Bunny was a morning thing, and Star Trek ran in the evening), it was the show we always wanted to watch.

I don't remember particularly caring about anything else on TV around that time, come to think about it.

Star Trek, you had my love, and will always hold a special, highly dramatic place in my heart.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rain Gear

There's just something about a full-size umbrella, with a classic curved handle and a spire on top.

It's bulky and awkward, yes, and if you have long arms you can't just carry it around by the handle when it's closed because it will drag on the ground. It doesn't fold up into a tidy little handful or fit into your bag.

On the other hand, you can stroll along, swinging it from side to side in a jaunty manner, and it has a certain style.

Also, you can poke people with it to fend off unwanted handshakes, and you can't underestimate the potential usefulness of that.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lighting is Everything

This evening's free entertainment was Blue Man Group. This is not a movie, but it's a pretty fun stage show. Visually interesting, humorous, gooey. I enjoyed it.

I was impressed at how cool stuff like PVC pipe and paper towels can look when interestingly lit and deployed. Art! It's amazing!

Also, why are strobe lights so freakin' awesome? To people not prone to seizures, that is. I know there are many people for whom strobe lights are not awesome at all, and I'm sorry.

But I tend to find them ridiculously fun. I think it's because they chop your vision up into slices, and then your brain has to jump to put the slices together, and it's like solving a tiny puzzle every time you see something. And since solving puzzles is cool, fun results.

That's my theory.

So my sympathies to those who can't enjoy them, but I think I want a strobe light in my bathroom. It would make brushing my teeth so much more exciting.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Table Manners

I just saw on this TV show (Deadly Dozen: Amazon, if you want to check it out) that since tarantulas can't chew, but also apparently can't swallow prey whole, they regurgitate stomach acid over their food to mush it up until they can ingest it.

This is certainly a fine solution for someone without molars, and I salute the boundless ingenuity of evolution, but can I just say that it is also kind of gross?

It's all what you're accustomed to, of course, but I'm glad I can chew.

I'd much rather grind my food into a slimy paste of goo and saliva right inside my head, and then ingest it.

Yeah, actually that's kind of gross too.

I suppose swallowing things whole is really the way to go if you want to be tidy. Swallow whole, digest, if necessary maybe cough up a compact pellet of the indigestible bits later.

All right, I'm sold. I'm swallowing all my food whole from now on. Watch for updates.

Updated to add: Gah! Choking!

Why am I not like the anaconda, capable of swallowing prey wider than my own head? Mmm...prey...(droooooool).

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Science in Movies?

I haven't seen Contagion because I haven't heard about any free screenings, and may or may not see it depending on whether or not I do hear about any, because I'm not sure it looks so awesome that I'll have to make the effort of digging out some cash.

Although it will certainly have a huge health connection, which I always like to look for.

However, based on this article in Salon, they actually tried to make it a scientifically plausible depiction of a disease outbreak, and to present public health work realistically, so that's cool. Yay science and public health!

The piece is an interview with Dr. Ian Lipkin, who was a consultant on the film, and it's interesting to get his perspective on the work of moviemaking.

It's not a warning film for students about the dangers of crossing librarians, but I suppose some hard work still went into it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My Character Witnesses

Although I sometimes pretend to grouchiness and ill humor, I think I should let everyone know that I am actually very sweet. Delectable, even.

I have this on good authority, which authority being the number of mosquito bites I always manage to accumulate after an outdoor party.

This evening, I got mosquito bites through my jeans. That's just how luscious I am. Parasitic insects find me irresistible. So if you've ever thought me appealing in any way, you're in good company.

As an aside which is almost certain to take up most of this post, why is it "irresist-ible"? Usually things that can be done or not done are spelled with an "-able." As in, I was unable to manage that thing, or think that thought, or whatever.

Internet? Help me out here.

OK, the Online Etymology Dictionary says that the derivation is "from L.L. irresistibilis, from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" ... + resistere".

So it's not actually based on being able to resist something, it's based on a separate word meaning not resistibilis (presumably this does mean, more or less, "resist-able") which was spelled with an 'i'. All right, then.

That conveniently also explains why it's 'ir-' resistible instead of 'un-' resistible, which would be the expected pattern based on things you can't manage or think or so forth.

Thanks, internet!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ouch! Movie Review: Warrior

I saw a free screening of Warrior last night, but was too weary to say anything about it once I got home. The vivid impact of a first impression has somewhat faded, but nevertheless I am not without opinion.

In my opinion, this was a moderately successful sports movie. It had relatively lively Ultimate Fighting Championship action, mildly engaging characters, and a final victor that I genuinely was unable to predict.

Basically, you've got this horribly estranged family, with a recovering alcoholic father and his two sons. The wife/mother, after leaving and taking the younger son with her when the boys were teenagers, has long since died, so she won't be showing up to cause any trouble with whatever opinions she might have about anything.

Son One, Brendan, is a former UFC fighter who's now a high school physics teacher, with a hot wife and two adorable, rarely-seen children. He's doing OK, except that the bank is about to foreclose on his house, leaving him no option but to return to fighting to make some quick cash. He asks his good friend, a famous trainer, to help him train.

Son Two, Tommy, is a former high school wrestling champion who's just out of the Marines and takes up fighting for reasons that are initially unstated. He asks his father, who trained him in high school, to help him train again. The father wants to build a better relationship with him than the apparently hideous one they had when the boys were young, but Tommy is unreceptive to these attempts.

Basically, this entire group is weighed down by crushing emotional pain. Well, Brendan seems to be OK at relating to his family and his friend the trainer, but he's clearly got lots of father-and-brother-related emotional pain. Ouch!

Meanwhile, a winner-take-all fight has been set up, 16 fights in 48 hours culminating with a final battle to determine the toughest guy on the planet, with a five million dollar prize!

Will the two estranged brothers wind up fighting each other for the money? Will Brendan's wife, who's opposed to him fighting because he's been injured before and she's worried about him and probably they don't have any health insurance, relent and come to the fight to support him? Will the recovering alcoholic father relapse in a dramatic fashion? Will Tommy turn out to have a compelling reason to want to win the money, the way Brendan needs it to save his house?

Those of us who've seen a movie or two in our day may feel free to make some predictions about these questions.

Within the somewhat predictable rhythm of a sports movie, however, it did OK. And as I said, since the movie follows Brendan and Tommy pretty equally, I was genuinely not quite sure how it was going to end: normally you're rooting for an obvious character or team and they're going to get a thrilling victory, but in this case, it's harder to say.

Brendan is more generally likable, with friends and supporters, while Tommy's sort of morose and unfriendly, but of course Tommy has reasons, based on deep, hidden pain, so you're set up to sympathize with him too.

I felt the movie worked it out OK in the end. It was exactly like that Simpsons episode where Bart and Lisa are on opposing hockey teams, and then at the climactic moment they remember their shared past full of happy sibling moments, and both throw off their gear and embrace, jointly forfeiting the game. Then the crowd riots! It was awesome.

I'm just kidding, it wasn't exactly like that. But I like to remember The Simpsons.

Anyway, I'm no connoisseur of sports movies, but this one kept me sufficiently entertained that I wasn't looking at my watch every 10 minutes. The mandatory training montage is spiced up by splitscreens, so you'll see two or three scenes at the same time of different people training or sports newscasters hyping the coming fight. It was a collage montage, which I feel is an innovation that should be widely adopted (or perhaps has been, since I don't watch that many sports movies).

The acting was decent, and the fight scenes were full of dramatic punches and squirming and throws and pins.

In terms of relation to issues of health, the movie shows that training to fight can get you into really good shape, and that actually fighting can wreck up your pretty face something fierce.

I would say a main message is, don't be weighed down by crushing emotional pain. That stuff just makes your life as grim as all get out. Getting beaten up in a cage is a minor side issue in terms of ouch.

Another message is, do stop drinking if you're an alcoholic, because it somewhat improves your chances of reconnecting with your estranged sons. However, be prepared to wade through oceans of crushing emotional pain.

Another message is, times are tough and a lot of people really need money, and it's really hard to get enough of it to pay your bills, so sometimes you resort to desperate things. Which is all very well if you can beat up enough other guys to win five million dollars, but all the guys who didn't get the money, or who can't win a UFC fight, are on their own.