Here is an extraordinarily good piece from a worth1000.com Photoshop contest, combining classical art with robots.

I want to see this on a book cover.

Proof of Evolution: FWMOS&H Develops Spine

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has reversed its earlier decision to not show the IMAX film "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea", following numerous complaints and letters. Newspaper articles had reported the film had been turned down for showing after several members of a test showing's audience complained about mentions of evolution in the film.

Full article here. (Registration required, darn it, tho' you can do a search (the top entry, for the Star-Telegram paper) on Yahoo News and get an active link through there.)


The Children's Crusade, 2005

I've tried to keep this blog a Schiavo-free zone, but some things just have to be said.

Child Protesters Show Support for Schiavo


Scott Heldreth has been arrested numerous times for picketing abortion clinics and blocking sidewalks while praying. Now his 10-year-old son, Josh, has followed in his footsteps.

Josh is one of six children - ages 10 to 14 - arrested in the past week for crossing a police line at the Woodside Hospice to take water to Terri Schiavo.

. . .

[Joshua Heldreth] walked up to sheriff's deputies, carrying a plastic cup, and ignored two requests to turn around. Deputies cuffed his hands behind his back and loaded him into a van with 14-year-old twin girls. At the courthouse, the three youngsters were photographed, fingerprinted and released.

. . .

Demonstrators have allowed their children - some too young to truly understand why they are there - to pass out religious fliers and hold signs accusing Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, of murdering her. The children beat five-gallon buckets like funerary drums and wear shirts declaring them "Youth for Life."

Let's assume that in some alternate-Earth, young Joshua Heldreth somehow manages to get past the police, the barricades, the metal detectors, the hospice staff and everyone else with his plastic cup filled with water, and makes it to Terri Schiavo's room and bars the door against anyone stopping him from his next step.

Whereupon he, no doubt with a smile on his face, pours the water into Terri Schiavo's mouth...

...and kills her.

Terri Schiavo has such massive degeneration in her brain tissue that breathing (alas for her) is one of the few functions left.

Swallowing is not one of the functions still working. She cannot swallow. This is why that famous feeding tube had to be inserted in the first place.

Had that water been put into her mouth, some of it would undoubtedly have dribbled out the sides and onto the bed. And some part of it might have trickled down her esophagus and into her stomach.

The rest would have gone into her lungs.

And ten-year-old Joshua Heldreth would have murdered the woman he expected to save, by literally drowning her in her bed.

This is not a real hard thing to figure out: Someone unable to swallow. Put stuff in their mouth, they choke. Choke their airway badly enough, they die.

Did Scott Heldreth, Joshua's father, not figure this out?

What kind of parent would allow their ten-year old son to try and do something with a possible end result of killing another person? Is this criminally stupid? Criminally irresponsible? Or criminally insane?

When Mr. Heldreth pickets abortion clinics and blocks sidewalks, it's his own freedom he puts at risk by breaking the law.

When he allows (and encourages, even if indirectly; Joshua didn't drive himself to Florida) his ten-year old son to break the law in ways that, if fully carried out, could have deadly results, then he's crossed a line.

The North Carolina (the Heldreth family's home) department of Child Protective Services should investigate whether Mr. Heldreth's actions (and lack of actions) in Florida constitute parental abuse or neglect, and whether Joshua should be taken from his custody.

Update, 3/27/05: I asked the question, "What kind of parent...?" up above regarding Scott Heldreth.

The answer, it appears is a registered sex offender, listed as "absconded from registration" in the state of Florida.

(Thanks to this post from Daily Kos.)


Update To "Tinfoilage"

Downtopic, in a post titled "Tinfoilage", I raised the question whether Phoenix was being used as a test market for terrorist-attack scenarios.

According to this news item, the answer is apparently "No, but it will be."


Devolution In Action: Spineless In Fort Worth

From The Observer:
In several US states, Imax cinemas - including some at science museums - are refusing to show movies that mention the subject or suggest that Earth's origins do not conform with biblical descriptions.

Films include Cosmic Voyage, an animated journey through the universe; Galapagos, a documentary about the islands where Darwin made some of his most important observations; and Volcanoes of the Deep Sea, an underwater epic about the bizarre creatures that flourish near ocean vents.

In most southern states, theatre officials found recent test screenings of several of these films triggered accusations from viewers that the films were blasphemous.

Carol Murray, marketing director of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Texas, said audience members who had watched Volcanoes had commented 'I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact', or 'I don't agree with their presentation of human existence.'

As a result, the science museum had decided not to screen the film. 'If it is not going to draw a crowd and it is going to create controversy, from a marketing point of view, I cannot make a recommendation,' Murray told the New York Times yesterday.

Carol Murray is an idiot, and utterly incompetent as a marketing director.

She should have told the complainers (how many, out of how many audience viewers?) thanks for their views, and that they were free to express their views publicly.

Had Christian wackos shown up to picket or protest the film's showing, with attendant local tv and newspaper coverage, it would have drawn HUGE crowds to the museum to see what all the fuss was about.

AND the Museum could have then said, "We feel the public is intelligent enough to think about the views and facts presented in the films. They can't do that if the film isn't shown."

Instead... they caved. Cravenly. Cowardly. Stupidly.

Carol Murray should be fired. And any Museum board members who agreed with her opinion should hang their heads in shame.

(I can't help but wonder about Ms. Murray: What church does SHE attend?)


House Watching

Watched House, a new medical drama starring Hugh Laurie, for the first time last night.

Laurie is very, very good as a brilliant but highly misanthropic diagnostician at a large hospital. ("Obviously, I don't like you. But that's okay; I don't like anybody.")

However, the writing on the episode...

The story centered around a high-strung fashion executive who suffered sudden paralysis and extreme pain in her leg. After numerous tests, dead ends, and further complications, Dr. House is able to deduce that she has congestive heart failure, and needs a heart transplant, pronto.

But... the reason such a young person's heart is failing is that she is a chronic bulimic (and self-cutter), who's been using ipecac syrup to induce vomiting regularly. And the repeated dosing of ipecac has the side effect of causing muscle (i.e., heart) damage. And that behavior means she would be psychiatrically ineligible for a heart transplant.

So House lies to the hospital's transplant committee. The girl gets her new heart. (Almost immediately. Yeah, that happens.)

Uhh... no.

Besides being brilliant and irascible, House is supposed to highly, highly ethical. A real prick about the behavior of other doctors and the hospital in general.

So he lets someone technically disqualified from a transplant get one anyway. Which means that some other person, some person who does meet the criteria for a transplant, won't get the heart that was put into the fashion executive's chest.

As written, House let someone else, someone never actually seen or named, die in order to save a person with a compulsion towards self-mutilation and self-damage.

What were the writers thinking?

To be true to the character, the episode should have had House making sure that the executive did NOT receive the transplant. I would have made one of the young doctors training under House (I don't remember the characters' names, so I'll refer to them as The White Guy, The Black Guy, and The Female Guy) be the one trying to save the (young, good-looking) fashionista's life, and end up overruled by House.

The episode also had a subplot featuring a man unable to speak, with an undiagnosed case of spastic dysphonia. So House goes to the man (who is not even his patient!), distracts him, and sticks a syringeful of Botox into his throat!

Any doctor who gave unagreed-to treatment to a patient, especially some other doctor's patient, would be escorted off the hospital grounds by Security, and not allowed back. As the substory was written, House wasn't acting like a brilliant doctor, he was acting like a public menace.

The character, as portrayed by Laurie, has immense potential. But, jeez, what ARE the writers thinking?


Miscellaneous Photoblogging

"Bad, mad, and dangerous to know." Posted by Hello

(taken at World Fantasy Convention 2004)

Updates & Additions

I've updated the blogroll over on the sidebar, correcting the URL for Avedon Carol's The Sideshow.

I've also added some additional blogs, that I've started cruising pretty regularly, to the list: Will Shetterly's It's All One Thing (mostly about writing, with religion and politics on the side), Steve Gilliard's News Blog (self-explanatory; occasionally overblown and strident, but almost always interesting commentary on politics and news), and Rox Populi.

I particularly like Rox Populi, not just because it has decent and intelligent commentary on politics, and a lot of links to interesting news items and websites, but because it has...

...a daily "Write Your Own Caption" contest!

Back when I first started browsing the Web, one of the regular habits I picked up was to submit entries to the weekly "Insert Caption" contest on Moviefone.com, where they posted a still photo from a current (usually crappy) movie and invited browsers to submit appropriate/inappropriate/wildly-inappropriate captions. The week's selected winner got a free pair of movie tickets. (I won a few times, and had some runner-ups.)

But then, without warning, the Moviefone website was reorganized, and the "Insert Caption" contest was eliminated. Now, far be it from me to say what The Bastards! The Dirty, Rotten, Stinking Bastards! can or can't do with their own website, but, hey, I enjoyed that contest.

There are other insert-caption contests around, but the (newsphoto-inspired) entries on Rox Populi are some of the best I've seen. It helps a lot that her readership includes a lot of smartasses backed up by intelligence.

Some samples here and here.

Now if only she gave out movie tickets for the best caption....


Married Life

So it's been a while since I've had a haircut, and it's getting pretty long again, leading to the following bit of dialogue:

Me: "Hilde, is my receding hairline high enough that tying back my hair into a ponytail would look dumb?"

Hilde: "Not yet. Trust me, I'll let you know when the receding hairline starts to meet up with the thin spot."



"In gratitude for thirty years of government service..."

". . .we're giving you this crappy little silver-colored pin." Posted by Hello

(If I make it to fifty years, they'll show me a picture of a gold watch!)