I have a beautiful dream that someday a candidate for District Attorney will run on the campaign promise that psychics, charlatans, and other such con-men will not be prosecuted for bilking the gullible. There is enough real crime out there to deal with without tying up the courts defending the claims of nozzleheaded idiots too stupid to NOT hand over their money to tarot readers, astrologers, etc. There should be no legal recourse for posessing a staggering lack of common sense. It's the same as giving money to a drug dealer or stripper: you ain't gettin' it back.
The National Post has a cool story about Max Berry's outstanding recent novel Jennifer Government, a great and uncomfortable satire about a corporate-run future. The book is getting press, and that usually means it can't possibly be science fiction. It's available at Amazon.
Which leads me to the interesting subject of Texas Tech University biology professor Michael Dini, who has wisely decided to not give letters of recomendation to those students who believe in creationism. Can you guess where this is going? This policy has led, of course, to cries of discrimination. His criteria on the matter are quite clear and concise, but the uber-religious Liberty Legal Institute have decided that's just plain wrong. I guess the concept of biology being a science doesn't get to enter into it.
If my atheism gets me banned from divinity school, can I sue?
Assorted Items: The Libertarian Party is protesting New York's expanded gun law proposals by starting a program called Toy Guns for Tots, Christian idolotry is now braving new territory with the Jesus Beanie, and a 54-year old British woman vacationing in Spain demonstrated a profound poverty of intellect by sticking her arm in a lion cage and (c'mon, say it along with me now) having it ripped off. I hope there were video cameras there to capture the undoubtedly alarmed look that came across her face as she gripped the flailing, gushing meat-stump that until recently had anchored the limb, and the genuine surprise of seeing her own arm being stripped of its skin like a piece of chicken. Good lion.
I wore braces for four years. I was burdened with a cumbersome, drool- generating retainer for another three. At the end of a trying adolesence riddled with slurred speech my teeth were still a mess, requiring that some of them be sacrificed. I have worn upper and lower partial plates for the entirety of my adult life.
Now that I am a hoary, toothless puddle of irrelevance far removed from any desirable demographic, they have invented this.
Dark and brooding congratulations to Tatiana de Profundis who won the inaugural Miss Gothic Massachusetts Pageant last week. It was quite a big story, even the Boston Globe covered it. I expect Miss de Profundis will be presiding at the grand openings of Hot Topics and funeral homes around the metro Boston area. Thanks to Patrick, the co-producer of the event, for the link.
Also from the mailbag: David Wolff wrote to suggest Esperanto-USA.org for the links page. This was quite fortuitous. An Esperanto category has been on my "to do" list for a while, primarily because it's been about two decades since I was able to speak it, albeit poorly, and thought it was time for a refresher. I am also looking for an Esperanto Word-of-the-Day site. I know there used to be a one but my recent searching of caches has been fruitless.
Mark Vadnais forwards a story of two youths who took inspiration from The Sopranos and dismembered their mother. Now, while they admittedly got the idea from watching violent television, one has to wonder exactly what kind of upbringing they received that allowed them to muster up the ethical leeway to think hacking a parent into smaller, more managable components was an acceptable idea. I didn't always get along with my folks, but forcibly rending their limbs from their trunks never presented itself as a viable option. And I watch a lot of horror movies.
Only in England could the time-honored tradition of saturating one's life with Star Trek fandom be successfully merged with the fine art of drinking.
With the State of the Union address tonight, I want to post my hope that Bush announces a plan to send an army of robots into battle against Iraq.
Monday, January 27
It has been revealed that during the Spanish Civil War, modern art was used to torture prisoners. This is the funniest thing I've read in weeks. Kandinsky, Klee, Brunel and Dali were all allegedly the inspiration. Asymetrical bauhaus prison cells were built to disorient inmates, unnatural colors and shapes were used to blunt psyches, and they claim it was quite effective. I want this technique used now. You want to break the destructive will of terrorists? Let Roger Dean and Jacek Yerka design modern versions of the Village.
In other philosophical-difference news, the Intellectual Activist website has a teaser for a story about Oregon's Clemens Foundation (a charity built exclusively from lumber profits) pulling scholarships from the left-leaning Philomath School because they teach anti-lumber environmentalism. The funny thing is that if you read about the same story in Education Week, the reason for the break is the school's allowance of dyed hair and homosexual clubs. The anti-timber bias is almost and afterthought. I'll be doing more research on this story.
My suggestion of Clockwork Orange'sThe Heaven Seventeen has been posted at T. Mike's Rocklopedia Fakebandica. To be fair I wasn't the only one to suggest it. I also sent him The Puddlians, the spy band from President's Analyst, but there is no listing of it yet. There are a lot of great new entries, nonetheless.
There was once an editorial in The Onion about a guy personally insulted over an "unwarranted" negative feedback he received on EBay. I searched for the story but it doesn't seem to be archived. Anyway, I bring this up because, as is the case with all good Onion stories, it is coming true.
I've added even more entries to the Links Page. I'm gradually moving towards having a full 2000 entries there, which (at least in my feeble, easily-amused mind) will constitute the dreaded Bad Day Millennium. Mythos, legends, and predictions concerning this most auspicious milestone have yet to be determined.
Speaking of milestones, Bruce Sterling had a link to Singularity Watch, a group providing news stories on technological acceleration. Some really wild stuff there.
I read this news story about a guy who stalked his ex-girlfriend using GPS technology. Two points: 1. Can waiting periods and background checks involving the purchase of personal satellite gizmos be far behind? 2. If a flustered and possibly violent ex manages to track you wherever you go, and actually shows up in your proximity repeatedly, I'd imagine the first thing you think of would be "Hmmm, he must be using a tracking system." Am I just jaded and paranoid here? Or are some people so oblivious to the rammifications of high tech that they can't put two and two together? Did this girl think her ex was consulting a tarot to divine her location?
Saturday, January 25
This is the first Super Bowl weekend I haven't had to work in eight years, but since I have no interest in the game I guess it really doesn't matter. I will spend Sunday in my sweatpants, reading a pile of comics and science fiction magazines, listening to a stack of prog CDs, and dreaming of a world without football.
A college student whose diet consists mostly of cheese and cookies, but no fruits or vegetables, has come down with a case of scurvy. I post this for the benefit of my girlfriend, who maintains disturbingly similar eating habits. I'm expecting her utterly unnatural dependance on Nutella and Easy-Cheez to bring on a dose of jaundice any day now.
My life of reading sprawling space operas and Jim Starlin Marvel epics paid off when I found a science news headline that contained the phrase "Cosmic Doom." Here's another that exclaims "Distant World in Peril." Scientists are just having too much fun coming up with tag lines.
It was inevitable: Babies will soon be bar-coded. The idea is to give them a temporary tattoo bar-code so that they don't get mixed up at the hospital. I say leave the bar-code on. Maybe it could set off the grocery store cash register scanner like Maggie in the open of Simpsons.
The countdown has begun towards wireless tactile interfacing. Combine this with the recent story about porn as a motivating factor in new wireless technology, and you can see what lies ahead of us. Couples will be feeling each other up from miles away. "Phone sex" will take on a completely new meaning. Cell phones may actually begin to get bigger to accomodate...oh, how do I put this politely...to accomodate a new range of functions. It is so over.
Government bio-ethicist Leon Kass spoke out against life extension and mood enhancement again this weekend. Apparently the only role we humans play is to procreate and die. This man is a savage. He puts no value in human intellect and insists we live our lives in fear and misery. According to him our impermanence and limitations are the standard of value. Strangely enough, the fact that he is about thirty years older than the average male life expectancy of a century ago didn't come up in his speech.
Y'know, I am uncertain of the exact date, but we have got to be close to the anniversary of the very first Gravity Lens. Damn. What a pompous ass I was. (was??) Tempus fugit. Anyhoo I've cleaned up the banner a bit to commemorate.
Computer News: ZDNethas an article on some cool directions that computer technology may go. Students at CalTech have planned the first-ever competitive Turing Tournament for their computers. And the first sign of actual forward-thinking at NASA in a long time has taken place with the creation of the Institute for Nanoelectronics and Computing, a think-tank charged with developing thinking spaceships. 'Bout time.
If you go to the official Rush site, click on the box that says "Dialogue with Duke" to see a Flash cartoon of Geddy Lee being interviewed by his dog. You should also check out the two existing episodes of "Big Al's Tiki Lounge."
SciFi Wire reports that Enterprise is going to do an AIDS themed episode. I was going to comment that since they're obviously out of ideas they should try a musical episode like Buffy, then I saw this story in Cinescape about a gay, German Star Trek parody making its way to the states. I'm not certain I want to live in a world where the sad reality of this rapidly decaying franchise outstrips my cruel mockery of it.
I just read this article over at ABC News about some of the downright idiotic notions that current college students have about sex. Put children through an emotion-based public school system rife with relativism and junk science, buy into the notion that their sense of well-being needs more fostering than their intellect, and this is the kind of wive's tale/superstition-riddled knowledge base that they end up with.