So, the US were going to blow up the Moon - 10 Things
Many of you were disheartened by yesterday's news that the permafrost is melting and we're all going to die - so here's some good environmental news: deforestation of the Amazon has hit a 24 year low! Yes, the Brazilian government has announced that a mere 4656 square kilometres of irreplaceable biodiversity were burnt off in the 12 months to July and that the country is on track to hit its target of cutting the destruction of the lungs of the planet by 80% compared with 1990 levels by 2020. Just in time for the permafrost feedback loop to kick in! On the non-cynical plus side, though, the reduction in deforestation and simultaneous growth in Brazil's economy does offer a potent argument against economic hardliners who claim that the environment just has to wait until we're making enough money to afford to look after it. And yes, we bet whoever reads the news to Gina Reinhart left this bit out.
The Moon: let's face it, who needs the damn thing? Sure, it looks pretty, and helps deflect asteroids away from Earth, and its gravity regulates our tides, and it stabilises Earth's axial wobble so that we've developed mild and regular seasons rather than, say, tens of thousands of years of droughts followed by huge freezing epochs like Mars has… actually, yeah, the Moon's pretty essential to life as we know it, really. So it's a good thing that the US didn't go through with its plan to blow it up in 1959, then. The top secret project has come to light thanks to a biographer of the astronomer, science populariser and freakin' legend Carl Sagan, who was involved in doing some calculations on whether the Earth would be inundated with radioactive rock and dust if the US detonated an atom bomb on the surface (conclusion: dear god yes, obviously - what are you, mad?), which the then-undergraduate Sagan mentioned in a an academic fellowship application - which was, technically, a security breach. The (literally) lunatic idea of destroying the Moon had been mooted in response to Russia launching Sputnik in 1957, because hell: the Russians can't land on a Moon that ain't there. So it turns out that Mr Show with Bob and David weren't really joking at all (and yes, that is Bob "Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad" Odenkirk and David "Tobias from Arrested Development" Cross).
You might recall that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character John Blake inherited all of Bruce Wayne's neat Batmanning gear at the end of The Dark Knight Rises (although unless he also inherited Wayne Enterprises and all of Wayne's personal fortune it'll last last him about a week, going by the rate that stuff got blown up in the films). Well, it appears that he accepted the job since it's claimed that he'll be appearing as Batman in the upcoming Justice League movie, with the current working title DC Comics Would Like An Avengers Franchise Too Please. Then again, since the film has no director as yet, who knows?
Angus T. Jones - the titular half of Two and a Half Men - may think that his show is brain-rotting filth that you shouldn't watch, as he said that that video he did for Forerunner Christian Church, but you know what he also thinks? That it's great and that everyone involved is simply wonderful, as he said in a statement to Us Weekly: "I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed. I never intended that." You might think that's something of a backtrack. You might think it's a hasty way to make amends for insulting all the people he's worked with. You might think it dawned on him (and heck, maybe the Forerunner Christian Church) that $350,000 per episode is pretty sweet scratch. But that would be cynical - and after all, the church's Facebook page points out that their "moto" (because spelling is for heathens) is "TO LIVE & TO DIE FOR THE TRUTH". Of course, that hasn't stopped the likes of Rainn Wilson and Craig Robinson - Dwight and Darryl from The Office - making their own videos explaining that what they do is filth and shouldn't be watched. Which in The Office's case is bang on: they should totally have ended with Jim and Pam's wedding.
So, what are you doing today? Working? Making weekend plans? Reading current events roundups on pop culture websites in lieu of actual news? Well, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is spending his Thursday doubling down on the whole existence-of-Palestine thing by submitting a bid to the UN to upgrade the status of the Palestinian Authority to observer status. Israel, predictably, have not responded positively to this plan: the country's UN spokesman Mark Regev told reporters "Israel is not against Palestinian statehood in the framework of peace and reconciliation but what they seem to be doing is divorcing statehood from peace and reconciliation," which is the international diplomacy equivalent of getting out of a losing argument by insisting that they simply won't bother any more if you're going to take that tone. The resolution is expected to pass easily, with Israel, the US, Canada and Czech Republic voting no, Germany probably going with no but not confirming either way, just about everyone else voting yes, the UK remaining in negotiations and Australia bravely abstaining from voting for fear of offending any of the popular kids. That'd be that defiant ANZAC spirit at work, then.
Maybe concern over the uncertainty of Germany's UN vote was what left the audience for Garbage's Koln show strangely subdued on Monday night. Perhaps they should have explained that to frontperson Shirley Manson, who tweeted "Koln you were so strangely subdued! Sold out show but so cold? Funny. I know you love us but why couldn't you show it? We still love you. Sx". Conor Furlong took the band to task for thinking "it's alright to publicly criticise your fans, who've paid to go to your gig", which which Manson awesomely replied "oh PULEASe BLOW ME". Your move, Furlong.
Pussy Riot have been nominated as Time's Person of the Year for 2012: specifically, the imprisoned Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who you may recall are both doing two years hard labour in remote prison camps for "hooliganism", aka "playing a song in a church". Third member Yekaterina Samutsevich has been released on probation, after successfully pointing out that she hadn't even had a chance to get her guitar out of its case when the police poured into Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The news is no doubt of great comfort to Alyokhina, who has reportedly been moved to solitary confinement. On the other hand, they'll probably lose to fellow nominee Psy.
Speaking of Psy, well known US broadcaster, right-wing blowhard and nightmare of a human being Bill O'Reilly spent a fair whack of his Fox show deriding Park Jae-sang as "a little fat guy from Pyongyang or some place" and comparing him disparagingly to Elvis, who "had a good voice [and] his songs had words" - because only English has proper words, obviously. Also, Bill, if you're wondering where Psy comes from, maybe there's a clue in the admittedly complicated title of that quite popular tune of his, 'Gangnam Style' - you know, that song with no words you were talking about - what with its references to the Gangnam District in the South Korean capital of Seoul, from whence Psy hails. Just a thought.
You know how when your people show you scans of their unborn fetus you always think "well, sure, that's an awesome blurry picture - but what I'd really like to do is take that half-formed human currently gestating in my friend's womb and really spin that sucker around in my hands"? Well, you're in luck: a Japanese company are now doing resin models of fetuses from MRI scans for a mere US$1200 (and each one comes with a mini-version to dangle from your mobile phone, because Japan), to finally give the joy of expectant parenthood that much needed element of visceral, H.R. Giger-esque horror.
And finally, Gawker kindly provided a public service by linking to this video which answers the question "should I deal with unwanted bathroom spider with brass knuckles?" Spoiler alert: yes, obviously, if you also hate walls.