I also like this as reading for a funeral service

“Still, statistically the probability that there are other thinking beings out there is good. Nobody knows how many stars there are in the Milky Way – estimates range from 100 billion or so to perhaps 400 billion – and the Milky Way is just one of 140 billion or so other galaxies, many of them even larger than ours. In the 1960s, a professor at Cornell named Frank Drake, excited by such whopping numbers, worked out a famous equation designed to calculate the chances of advanced life in the cosmos based on a series of diminishing probabilities.

"Under Drake’s equation you divide the number of stars in a selected portion of the universe by the number of stars that are likely to have planetary systems; divide that by the number of planetary systems that could theoretically support life; divide that by the number on which life, having arisen, advances to a state of intelligence; and so on. At each such division, the number shrinks colossally – yet even with the most conservative inputs the number of advanced civilizations in the Milky Way always works out to be somewhere in the millions.

"What an interesting and exciting thought.”

I think this would be a good reading at a funeral service

"Atoms are fantastically durable. Because they are so long lived, atoms really get around. Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. We are each so atomically numerous and so vigorously recycled at death that a significant number of our atoms – up to a billion for each of us, it has been suggested – probably once belonged to Shakespeare. A billion more each came from Buddha and Genghis Khan and Beethoven and any other historical figure you care to name. (The personages have to be historical, apparently, as it takes the atoms some decades to become thoroughly redistributed; however much you way wish it, you are not yet one with Elvis Presley.)

"So we are all reincarnations – though short-lived ones. When we die our atoms will disassemble and move off to find new uses elsewhere – as part of a leaf or another human being or drop of due. Atoms go on practically forever."

-- Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

Thought it would be funny...


"I bring you love."

To me, the exchange that goes "I bring you love." "It's bringin' us love! Break his legs!" kind of sums up the relationship between Barack Obama and the Tea Partiers:


Mr. Links

Our road-trip themed 2010 Summer Guide is out today, which features a humor (knock-wood) sidebar from me about How To Stay Sane While Driving With The Family (you may see familiar faces in the accompanying photo).

I also offer my predictions for The Summer's Best Films -- In Order. Other stories include a piece about the graphic novel series The Walking Dead (an AMC TV series of which is being filmed in Atlanta);a review of the six episode of "Treme;" review and Spoiler Questions for the Russell Crowe Robin Hood; and reviews of Letters to Juliet (ugh) and the Argentinian Oscar-winner The Secret in Their Eyes (pretty good!).