One of my first musical memories is hearing Vincent Price’s creepy intro to Thriller echoing through my grandmother’s dining room. I distinctly recall crawling under the table across the room to seek solace from the huge, dusty console radio. I guess it freaked me out a little.

I, like so many kids my age, was also obsessed with dancing like Michael. And like so many other lanky, awkward kids, I thought I could. Or at least, I knew I might be able to, if I could only convince my mom to buy me that rad red leather jacket with all the zippers.

So thanks, Mr. Jackson. I never got the sweet jacket, but I have always and will always enjoy your music. I hope you’re creeping out Vincent Price right now, wherever you are.

Iran’s Disputed Election – The Big Picture

Compelling photos from the Boston Herald: i29_19360635

A backer of Mir Hossein Mousavi helps evacuate an injured riot-police officer during riots in Tehran on June 13, 2009. (OLIVIER LABAN-MATTEI/AFP/Getty Images)

via Iran’s Disputed Election – The Big Picture – Boston.com.

Iranian news

Interesting stuff happening over there. A disappointing result, perhaps on its face, with Ahmadinejad retaining power after the (almost certainly rigged) election. But it could be a blessing in disguise; it may be what was necessary to unite opposition to the current regime. Mousavi (the expected opposition party winner) has openly called the election a fraud. And the latest news is that Rafsanjani has resigned his post. I mean, these guys while being the ‘opposition’ are deeply entrenched in the Islamic Republic establishment, and for them to openly oppose the regime like this could be meaningful. Could they be seeing signs of coming change? Rats jumping off a sinking ship? I hope so… But it will take support for the people of Iran to make any kind of real change happen. My only fear is that it will be very bloody; the current leadership deals with dissent viciously.

MIT amps up solar cells

MIT is developing a new solar cell technology that results in a tenfold increase in power conversion, takes up less space, and can be added to existing solar panels.

Photo caption:

Organic solar concentrators collect and focus different colors of sunlight. Solar cells can be attached to the edges of the plates. By collecting light over their full surface and concentrating it at their edges, these devices reduce the required area of solar cells and consequently, the cost of solar power. Stacking multiple concentrators allows the optimization of solar cells at each wavelength, increasing the overall power output.

The Big Picture

Holy crap. Best new blog in a while. From the Boston Globe, The Big Picture is a relatively simple idea, executed gorgeously: few words, big, pretty pictures, tells a story. It just started this month, and already there are some really great stories and even better photos:

Daily Life in Sadr City, Iraq

The Sky, From Above

Mississippi Floodwaters in Iowa

Ethiopia in Food Crisis Once More

You really have to see these full-sized. Stunning work.

Paying per Gigabyte

On the heels of good news for internet users, Boing Boing reports that Time Warner cable is metering internet in test markets:

Time Warner’s plans to meter its cable internet are taking shape. The short of it: $1 for every gigabyte over the plan’s standard allowance, which will be 5 GB for a $30 plan and 40GB for a $60 plan. This compares to Comcast, which has secret limits somewhere north of 250GB, and Bend Cable, which has a 100GB cap.

Of those two plans, only the latter is of any use to anyone who does more than check email and IM: 5GB is what you get with cellphone data plans right now. Even 40GB is crummy: compare to Comcast, derided by geeks for its secret caps, with its 250GB-ish allowance. If you used that much bandwidth in one of Time Warner’s test markets, you’d be getting a $270 internet bill.

No thanks.

It’s about time, Starbucks

Finally, Starbucks Rolls Out Free Wi-Fi:

Here’s how the new Starbucks “free Wi-Fi” plan works: Customers purchase a Starbucks Card, which is like a gift card to yourself, with a minimum of $5 on the card. Then you go online to register the card for the rewards program. The rewards program grants you up to two hours of consecutive access every day. The $5 on the card can be used to buy coffee, snacks or other goods from Starbucks.

The only catch:

The catch for this service is that the rewards card has to be used at least once per month with a Starbucks purchase to keep the rewards active. AT&T will send you four solicitation e-mails per year.

It’s not a bad catch for such ubiquitous wi-fi. Really, in some over-caffeinated cities this could mean an uninterrupted wi-fi signal for miles. If you’ve got a rewards card, sign up here.

The missing finger that never was

I read a really interesting article in BBC News not long ago about a guy who was given a substance extracted from pig’s bladder to grow back part of his finger. Sounds too good to be true!

The Guardian (warning: semi-gross pictures) sorts it out:

The patient is Lee Spievack. He was given the powder by Acell, a large and longstanding biotech firm founded by Alan Spievack. He is Lee Spievack’s big brother. Dr Badylak is Acell’s chief scientific adviser, and he can be seen bravely making the best of all this unwelcome media attention by showing TV cameras around his labs and giving lengthy interviews, both now and in February 2008, when this story made the US news, and also, interestingly, in February of 2007, when it made the news for the first time, in exactly the same form, with exactly the same characters, and many identical quotes, verbatim, in the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, and more.

I’m glad someone besides Jon Stewart is fact-checking these trigger-happy news morons. In addition to being published in the Guardian, Ben Goldacre’s got a great blog entitled Bad Science.