Ups and Downs: Where I See Pictures of Spiders and Completely Lose All Sense of Rationality.


Up: It’s the Headline of the Week!: This week’s headline comes from seemingly the only Associated Press technology report in the last month that doesn’t tacitly imply that if you don’t have or desperately want the iPad 2, you should kill yourself. The headline:

Comet-Hunting Spacecraft Shuts Down After 12 Years.

The article is about NASA’s now-defunct Stardust program, based around a ship launched into orbit in 1996. The ship’s entire purpose was to track comets, collect dust samples and, if needed, destroy the comet.

“If needed”? Listen, NASA, if there’s ever a comet that poses some kind of risk to the continued survival of the earth, I’d prefer you not de-comission this ship. Our only back-up plan is to improbably train Bruce Willis and a lovable group of rag-tag scamps (and Steve Bucemi) to land on the comet as it hurtles toward the planet at hundreds of miles per second while Liv Tyler stays behind and cries a lot. And to remind Morgan Freeman that Deep Impact absolutely sucked.

It’s the Headline of the Week, VOL. II: The week’s second winner comes from Women’s Day magazine, which apparently my Google reader thinks I’m very interested in.*:

Eight Things Your Doctor Wants You to Know .

Those eight things are, in order:

1: With WebMD, you can basically diagnose yourself! You can also perform any needed surgery if only lightly sedated and/or buzzed.
2: Your deductible is $1000, and your insurance company will try to deny anything that costs more than $1000. You’re fucked either way, which is why our system is so superior to that socialist system they have in Canada.
3: Asking questions is an affront to my authority, as are your pants in any examination scenario.
4: That might be gonorrhea.
5: You can’t eat that. No, not you personally — all members of the human race.
6: If you need cheap drugs prescription drugs, try buying them off of high school students.
7: That’s definitely gonorrhea.
8: I’m totally going to sext these x-rays of you to my friends later.

Down: Losing Gerrard Smith: If you haven’t heard Nine Types of Light, the new album from TV on the Radio, you should spend some time with it — its a departure (mostly wildly successful, occasionally less so) from the dense, frenetic soundscapes of the band’s early catalogue, and worth hearing. Sadly, Gerrard Smith, who plays bass, synths and organ in the band, was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly after the album was recorded, and had been on hiatus from touring with the rest of the band. More sadly, RollingStone tweeted yesterday that Smith passed away this week. The best band in America just lost an elemental player, and we all just lost an incredibly talented musician and activist.

And not that you need an excuse to heap praise on TV on the Radio, but after hearing the news of Smith’s passing, I went back through their whole catalogue. Remember how incredible Return to Cookie Mountain and Dear Science were?

Down, again: Oh God, please no: According to this article from, researchers in Mongolia just found and unearthed the fossilized remains of an absolutely huge and awful spider. The arachnid, which paleontologists believe is a relative of the Golden Orb spider — seen here marauding over an innocent bird — is being called Nephila Jurassica, which is Latin for “Fucking Terrifying.”

As you can see in the picture attached to the article, the spider’s legs were individually about 2.5 inches long, making the total spider more than big enough to climb into my bed and suffocate me at night. Paul Seldon, a paleontologist from the University of Kansas and a lead researcher on the fossil discovery, noted that Golden Orb spiders are big enough to catch birds and bats, and that for Nephila Jurassica “There were many large or medium-sized flying insects around at that time on which it would have fed indiscriminately.” Added Seldon: “Much in the same manner of feeding frenzy in which it would greedily crack open a human skull and gorge on the brain inside.”

If television and movies have taught me anything — which they have — it’s that this is only the first step in a longer and more horrifying scenario in which the fossilized spider awakens from its slumber and levels an American city. THANKS science.

* I am.