May 29, 2007

LinkNews Digest [05/25/2007]

Web-Head Paid $220 for Original "Black Spiderman Suit" Idea

Randy Schueller had a million-dollar idea - and he got paid $220 for it. Actually, his idea was worth closer to $700 million - about the amount "Spider-Man 3" has raked in so far worldwide.

Back in 1982, Schueller was a 22-year-old comic-book fan living in Chicago. Marvel, the publisher of "Spider-Man," asked readers to send in ideas for the hero, and Schueller jumped at the chance. He spent two weeks crafting a story in which Spidey dons a new costume. A black costume. Like in a certain movie currently in theaters.

"It occurred to me that Spider-Man is this character that creeps around in the shadows looking for bad guys, so why is he wearing this bright red and blue costume?" Schueller says. "It seemed like he should have more of a stealth mode."

He mailed the pitch to Marvel, and a few months later, he got a letter from then-Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter telling Schueller he liked his idea and wanted to buy it for $220. Shooter also offered to let the novice write the story. "The money was incidental. It was cool at the time, but really, it was the possibility of working on the character that I had loved my whole life," Schueller says.

"Yes, a fan did send in the idea," confirms DeFalco. "Marvel bought the idea. We went out and tried to turn the idea into an actual story, but for assorted reasons, it just didn't work out."

Two years later, Marvel was working on a series called "Secret Wars," in which many of its heroes underwent changes. "So we were trying to figure out what to do with Spider-Man, and Shooter said, 'Hey, remember the story that guy sent in where Spider-Man got a new costume?' " DeFalco says. Spidey's black duds debuted in May 1984 and featured heavily in story lines for years to come - sagas far different than Schueller's original one-issue tale.

He says he's not looking for money - just acknowledgment. "I never really mentioned this story before . . . But now with the movie hitting, I'm like, 'I gotta tell everyone about this!'" "People will say, 'Oh, did you see the new Spider-Man movie?' I'm like, 'Funny you should bring that up.' Then I tell them the whole story. They just look at me slack-jawed."(LINK )

Tesla's Motorized Pink Bunny Slippers:
The Fast and the Furry-ous

Lisa came up with the idea to design and build a pair of giant motorized bunny slippers that we could drive separately but equally. She is one of the only people I know who can think up an idea like mobile pink bunny slippers and have the vision and artistic talent to make it succeed brilliantly. She made me say that, but really it’s what is under the fluff that makes them special. She made me say that too, so that she doesn’t sound conceited.

So back to my bunny slippers. They are 7.5-feet long and can scoot along at a top speed of about 15 mph. Both feet (yes, there is a left and a right) are covered with plush pink Flokati rugs the exact color of cotton candy. They are, of course, electric battery powered slippers. They each have a 36-volt system using six YellowTop 12-volt Optimas. Anyone who has used these 38 pound, 50 Amp-Hour, deep-cycle, sealed, yellow lead blocks will know that this is way more battery than one needs for a bedroom slipper. The batteries served their first life in my converted electric Honda Del Sol. The two front wheels are chain driven by a 7-inch brushed DC motor made by Advanced DC Motors. This kind of motive power is also way more than any fluffy footware really needs. The motors were surplus from the failed Tropica electric car venture by Renaissance Cars and are much happier working in the big toe of a giant slipper.(LINK )

Diagnosing Darth Vader

(WebMD) Anakin Skywalker, the Star Wars character who became Darth Vader, had borderline personality disorder, psychiatrists report.

Experts from the psychiatric department at France's University Hospital of Toulouse told the APA's annual meeting that Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader could "clearly" be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness marked by instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior, according to background information on the Web site of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The French psychiatrists, who included Laurent Schmitt, M.D., based their diagnosis on original Star Wars film scripts.

Schmitt's team describes Skywalker's symptoms, including problems with controlling anger and impulsivity, temporary stress-related paranoia, "frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment (when trying to save his wife at all costs), and a pattern of unstable and intense personal relationships," including his relationships with his Jedi masters.

Changing his name and turning into "Darth Vader" is a red flag of Skywalker's disturbed identity, note Schmitt and colleagues. Borderline personality disorder can be treated through psychotherapy and with medication. But that wasn't part of Skywalker's script. (LINK )

Another Creationism Science Fair "Winner"

Brian Benson, an eighth-grade student who won first place in the Life Science/Biology category for his project "Creation Wins!!!," says he disproved part of the theory of evolution. Using a rolled-up paper towel suspended between two glasses of water with Epsom Salts, the paper towel formed stalactites. He states that the theory that they take millions of years to develop is incorrect.

"Scientists say it takes millions of years to form stalactites," Benson said. "However, in only a couple of hours, I have formed stalactites just by using paper towel and Epsom Salts."

This isn't just wrong, it's appallingly wrong. He's wrong on the facts, wrong on the interpretations, wrong on the understanding of how science works. If we're charitable and grant that a 14 year old has some reasonable excuse for ignorance, we can still indict his parents, his science teacher, and the judges at this fair on gross incompetence on multiple charges.

  • This experiment has nothing to do with BIOLOGY.
  • Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate; stalactites are made of calcium carbonate.
  • Stalactite growth rates are estimated to be around 0.1-10 centimeters per thousand years. If we assume his 'stalactite' was 10 cm long and use the slowest growth rate, that's 100 thousand years, not millions.
  • Even if he had demonstrated an accelerated rate of stalactite growth, stalactite length isn't the method used to date the age of the earth.
  • To quote the unquestionable authority, Terry Pratchett: "And all those exclamation points? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head." Mister Benson comes perilously close to the underpants limit in his title.(LINK )

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