A new dinosaur discovered in Utah has been named Brontomerus mcintoshi. Now, we have no quarrel at all with the species name, mcintoshi, because it was chosen in honor of John "Jack" McIntosh, who is described as "a retired physicist at Wesleyan University, Conn., and lifelong avocational paleontologist." But guess what Brontomerus translates into?
You guessed it: "Thunder Thighs."
"Brontomerus mcintoshi is a charismatic dinosaur and an exciting discovery for us," said the project's lead author Mike Taylor, a researcher in the department of earth sciences at University College London, in a press release announcing the find. "When we recognized the weird shape of the hip, we wondered what its significance might be, but we concluded that kicking was the most likely. The kick would probably have been used when two males fought over a female, but given that the mechanics were all in place, it would be bizarre if it wasn't also used in predator defense."
Come now, Mr. Taylor. We all know a dinosaur cheap shot when we see one.
This Month in Jaw-Dropping Theses, Part One
Every once in awhile we catch ourselves wondering, "What does the father of evolutionary theory and a Sigourney Weaver sci-fi film franchise have in common?" Well, we could scarcely believe our eyes when the latest copy of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies hit our doorstep. In it, Karin Littau of the University of Essex gave us this gift:
"Charles Darwin taught us that biological species evolve by adapting to their environment, including to other species. The same can be said not only about artificial species simulated in a computer environment, but also about species created for entertainment in a media ecology. One such species is Ridley Scott's Alien, which burst onto our screens in 1979, before migrating to other media platforms, and diversifying into the Predator franchise."
Somewhere, Mr. Darwin is nodding knowingly.
This Month in Jaw-Dropping Theses, Part Two
In "From Wimps to Wild Men: Bipolar Masculinity and the Paradoxical Performances of Tom Cruise,"Donna Peberdy of Southampton Solent University in the United Kingdom finds a way to mention scholar Susan Jeffords, poet Robert Bly, talk-show host Matt Lauer and whatever-he-is-these-days Tom Cruise in the same breath. Impressive. It seems Cruise — and, we have to assume, his thetan — offers a perfect example of both hypermasculinity and hypomasculinity. We'll let Peberdy take it from here:
"Rather than shifting from hard to soft at different historical moments, as has been argued by scholars such as Susan Jeffords, Fred Pfeil, as well as poet and activist Robert Bly, the article suggests that masculinity is bipolar, simultaneously exhibiting hard and soft modes. Tom Cruise offers a particularly indicative example, moving between hard and soft, Wild Man and Wimp, both on-screen and off-screen. In Magnolia, Cruise's movement from Frank T.J. Mackey's manic misogyny to Jack's emotional hysteria at his father's bedside presents masculinity as a performance, extending past the cinematic stage to his televisual performances to Oprah, Jay Leno, and Matt Lauer."
Which leaves only one question: What does "televisual" mean?
From the "No, Seriously" File
Researchers at the University of Granada have discovered that elderly drivers — wait for it — have higher crash rates in "non-problematic operating environments" (or "the common intersection") than younger motorists. And get this: Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest crash rates of all because they are more likely be drawn to "problematic operating environments" (such as speeding, driving drunk or passing recklessly). You heard it here first.
The Cocktail Napkin appears at the back page of each issue of Miller-McCune magazine, highlighting current research that merits a raised eyebrow or a painful grin.