Monday, April 17, 2006

Aquaman and Puppies

...have not gotten a fair shake in the internet forum world, in popular forms of media, and on the street. Aquaman gets disrespected constantly. Robot Chicken and Family Guy-in recent episodes, this cartoon here, Chris Rock-and the general feeling I gather from casual observers that the ability to talk to the creatures of the sea is a little appreciated power. St. Francis of Assisi could talk to the animals, the Beastmaster could talk to the animals, why does Aquaman get the shaft? Many such cartoons, and other malcontents make some singularly "clever" remarks about Marine Biology departments, like such skills would only be useful in the hallowed and narrowly defined halls of academia. Does anyone tell Wonderwoman she would be great in a Women's Studies department? Or Batman should seek a full-time position in Chiroptera Research facility? Aquaman is not an animal he is a man an Aqua-man!

Second, violence against Puppies is always used as an example of intolerable cruelty or gross levels of injustice. Especially when they are kicked or eaten, and most disturbingly when they are already dead. Leave the puppies alone. They have done nothing. Their only crimes are being eminently cute and uniquely vulnerable. I am convinced there is some strange obsession with puppies under duress for college age males. Those who have taken a Psychology 101 course in school might be familiar with the narcoleptic puppies video that seems almost ubiquitous in such classes. They are filmed scampering as it is a puppy's wont, and then unsuspectingly they pass out asleep, instantly. Why must we be witnesses to such everyday tragedy? Consuming or punting deceased puppies should be a much more serious crime against nature, yet gets regulated to the most mundane of transgressions. A few particularly noticeable examples of internet exaggeration occurs on the HSQuizbowl message board, these gems are priceless, especially for those that are familiar with the highly insular world that is the College-Level academic competition circuit. "Personally, I'm down with the "CBI apologists = puppy eaters" equivalence..." or this piece of work, "I also dropkick puppies into piles of burning American flags, as one can clearly see by my opposition to dead tossups."

Aquaman and Puppies maliciously maligned...such humiliations must stop!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Is the Time for Skepticism Over?

In the latest issue of Time, one of the most ominous Special Reports on the Environment was featured. As you can see, we are being asked to be worried, be very worried. Alarmists have been raising red flags of environmental doom for years, and their have been many of those so-called Cooler Heads (Global Warming-Cooler Heads, grow up...) that have been there calling those Alarmists...well, Alarmists. Yet, in this issue of Time, there is no ambiguity. Global Warming is real and it is man-made and it is happening faster than anyone could have predicted. This in an of itself is nothing new; however, what is new is the bold suggestion that the debate over the past five years is over, and that the scientific community is no longer conflicted over whether or not Global Warming is happening, but what can we do (if anything) about it. Recent Congressional Hearings, have invited industry leaders such as Wal-Mart, Dow, BP and the like to voice their concerns and/or find out how they can a) contribute to the solution b) stay out of trouble. Much blogspace has been devoted to the Kyoto Protocol and our continual rejection of it. This issue though I think relevant, is not the biggest problem in US Environmental policy. To be honest, I have no idea what it is. Science, up until quite recently, was always viewed as an almost mystical source of knowledge. The conclusions of "hard" science were indisputable, and were taken to be true sans reflection. Yet, it should be clear to all, and should have always been clear, that Science just like every other field of endeavor is susceptible to human subjectivity and contingency. I have been vainly attempting to do my own research on this issue, and I find that wherever I go the science is always overwhelmed by terrorizing propaganda, on both sides of the Global Warming Issue. Each side is marshaling data, studies, and rhetorical strategies not to discover the truth, but in order to combat the other side's lies. It is frustrating to read. It seems that this issue, if legitimate, could signal a watershed moment in Human History. It could also spell the beginning of the end of the human race on planet Earth. Yet, so many are hung up on these ridiculous binary distinctions, of right and left, Republican and Democrat, and employ such childish rhetoric in order to make a point. The point is, the more we focus on the "Global Warming Debate" and the less we focus on what is actually happening on our Pale Blue Dot, the more people become alienated and disillusioned (at best) or the closer we get to sowing the seeds of our own destruction (at worst). I would like to believe that a reasonably reputable magazine such as Time would not present such a sensational, shocking report without being fairly confident about the conclusions it draws. But so little research is presented without having some blatantly biased agenda. We live in a Culture of Fear, a society that is kept in paralysis through our own paranoia. God is coming, the Devil is Coming, Terrorists are coming, Global Warming is coming, the liberals are destroying our way of life, the neocons want to destroy us.

I think the time for Skepticism is just beginning...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fake Opera, Fake Movies...Real Good Times

So listening to NPR this morning and this evening, there have been a number of fake stories. One of the best is the I-Bod, a machine that regulates the heartbeat, and other metabolic body functions. In one "interesting" depiction, Scott Simon engages in I-Bod intercourse with Mr. Gupta in accounting.

On the way back from an academic trivia tournament, I was listening to an amazingly well done, and quite funny story. Called "One Man's Sad Goal...Make Opera Positive!" Hamilton Banks, a rich Cape-Cod new homeowner, bought an Opera Company and changed its name to the Positive Opera Company, inspired by the late, great, Norman Vincent Peale, author of the Platonic Form of Self-Help Books, "The Power of Positive Thinking." In his new envisioning of the great Classical Operas, for example, in Don Giovanni (Mozart) after the statue of his father the Commandatore comes alive, and asks him to repent for his adulterous, womanizing ways, Don Giovanni becomes a born again Christian. In the Positive La Boheme (Puccini), Mimi is cured of Tuberculosis. And in Tristan and Isolde (Wagner) Tristan's injury is merely a flesh wound (it isn't even infected) and he is returned to his love, and instead of the moving Liebestod there is the melodically pleasant and totally unWagnerian the Love of Life Song.

I wish I knew how to quit you...