1. Elijah Woods will reprise his role as Frodo Baggins in the two-part Hobbit adaptation. Be warned, the story is a bit spoilery.
2. Jane Smiley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, will publish her new book this fall — about the story of the first computer.
In The Man Who Invented the Computer, she paints a portrait of a prickly, relentless engineering savant who got hooked on the problem of automatic computation while working on his dissertation in quantum mechanics, which required tedious calculations. After building his computer, he went on to tackle a series of unrelated challenges during the early years of the cold war, including measuring the effects of nuclear test explosions. He founded his own firm, received several patents, and died wealthy and respected. But Atanasoff’s greatest work, the first digital computer, was forgotten until the late 1960s, when a legal battle broke out over the patents that the ENIAC project leaders had filed on basic computing concepts.
3. A look back at director Darren Aranoksy’s The Fountain, which was both a critical and financial flop, but one of the best sci fi films of the decade, imho.
4. “Lake Vostok, which has been sealed off from the world for 14 million years, is about to be penetrated by a Russian drill bit. The lake, which lies four kilometres below the icy surface of Antarctica, is unique in that it’s been completely isolated from the other 150subglacial lakes on the continent for such a long time. It’s also oligotropic, meaning that it’s supersaturated with oxygen — levels of the element are 50 times higher than those found in most typical freshwater lakes.” [via]
5. Turns out when you pay the extra few bucks for the big beer at sporting events, you’re still getting the same amount of beer as the little one. We all knew $7.50 for a Bud Light was a rip-off, but this just feels cheap and dirty.
6. And you wonder why it’s hard to take the modern Republican Party serious: “The vote sets up a fierce debate next week over the Republicans’ proposal, which they have called the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” Yes, that’s the actual name of the Obamacare repeal bill.
7. Oh shit, biologists have discovered a new type of frog in Vietnam — a Vampire Flying Frog — and if that’s not bad enough, the tadpoles have black fangs.
Drawing attention to the divide between the wealthy and everyone else has long been standard fare on the left. (The idea of “two Americas” was a central theme of John Edwards’s 2004 and 2008 presidential runs.) What made the argument striking in this instance was that it was being offered by none other than the former five-term Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan: iconic libertarian, preeminent defender of the free market, and (at least until recently) the nation’s foremost devotee of Ayn Rand. When the high priest of capitalism himself is declaring the growth in economic inequality a national crisis, something has gone very, very wrong.
10. And finally, when the apocalypse happens, I want to ride it out in the wine cellar of Milestii Mici. 1.5 million bottles, stretching for 75 miles. Abso-fucking-lutely.