Monday, May 30, 2005

Mr. Grey Spaceman

From the I'm-Not-A-Spaceman-But-I-Operate-One-For-A-Crappy-TV-Show Dept. Check out this footage of Mr. Grey Spaceman. It's an alien puppet on the Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show. Really! I can't make out most of the lyrics due to the singer's faux operatic style, but I did hear something about "there is life on many infinite planets like there are different people." Or something like that. And the camera effects! Ooof. I have not seen anything this bad since the mid-80s, when public access channels would try to throw as many vid effects as they could afford into a five-minute segment.

Be afraid, be very afraid ... of what crappy puppeteers are showing children these days.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Overheard at FedEx Kinkos

From the Dept. of Accidentally-Intercepted-Conversation-Snippets

Now, I've heard many strange snippets of conversation, particularly at copy or office centers, but this has to be the best. Picture it. Two women, working at a table in the FedEx Kinko's in Willow Grove, PA., with papers, photos, and forms all over the place. The table is right near the door. So, as I walk out with a box of post card mailers for the theater, I hear the one of the women -- she with the cell phone surgically attached to her ear -- say: "Right now we are working on the first ever work visa for a chainsaw artist." That's right. Obtaining a work visa. For a chainsaw artist. Man, my job is soooo boring.

Friday Pet Blogging | Otis: Home Again

Otis has recently suffered through the longest vet visit of his short life. I think the little guy is happy to be back home:
"Hey guys, I missed you!"
Like Colin (Jazzy cat that often graces Running Scared), our Otis has been shuttled to and from the vet. Unlike Colin, however, Otis' issues do not seem to stem from an injury. And we seem to have a handle on the condition now. At least, a lot more so than we had prior to this week.
Long story short:
Otis has been diagnosed with FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) and he is going to be on Prozac for the foreseeable future.
Longer Story (but still fairly shortened):
I first mentioned Otis' litter woes on April 15 (Hush). Since then he has made a number of trips to the vet, both emergency and otherwise. After each one, Otis returned to fairly normal activity and, um, litter function. But after a week or so, the symptoms would come back, and Otis would again have to be whisked away to a doctor. The most recent situation was Sunday, May 22. We noticed the frustated struggle to use the litterbox, the frequent squatting, the plaintive meowing, the nearly obsessive licking, and -- worst of all -- we could see that he was distended. This was about 7am on Sunday morning. Mrs. Brainwise called the emergency vet and prepped Otis for his latest trip. I had to teach a class that morning, and then attend an afternoon filled with rehearsals for two musicals. So I didn't join her. But thank the Gods she noticed his symptoms and was able to attend to him. You see, Otis was completely blocked. He couldn't urinate at all. And that is a life-threatening sitution for a cat. Otis had to be cathetered and kept overnight. And then we had to transfer him from the emergency room to our regular vet on Monday morning. We thought we might get him back later on Monday, but he had to stay overnight to Tuesday ... and then to Wednesday as well. Mrs. Brainwise was finally able to take him home on Wednesday evening, and I took a few pics while he was resting on his favorite chair. Throughout this ordeal, there was cause to speculate that Otis was suffering from a form of bacterial cystitis. And we were actually hoping this would be the case because the right dose of antibiotics would knock the bad bugs out of him and leave him relatively free of issues. But negative urine tests and this latest bout have confirmed that we are dealing with FLUTD. Apparently, Otis' condition is triggered by stress or anxiety. Hence the Prozac prescription I mentioned earlier in this post. For an account of one pet owner's account of her own FLUTD trials, read Simba's Diseases Page. She is not a medical (or a web) professional, but the page is a pretty good compilation of material on three feline diseases. For more specific information about FLUTD, you can check writeups at HomeVet.com and the Cornell Feline Health Center. Right now, we are monitoring him. Trying to make certain he gets enough water. And listening whenever we notice he has entered the litterbox. I never thought I could get so happy over the sound of a cat peeing.
The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed here ... just in case you missed one. And do keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the Carnival of the Cats, served fresh every Sunday.
Photo Date: May 25, 2004

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Enter the Wardrobe...

The official site of the major motion picture, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (based on the C.S. Lewis classic), is now accessible. You can check out the film’s cast and crew, learn about each character (and discover how they were all created) and take a sneak peek at the theatrical trailer.
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Quotable

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is “look under foot.” You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world. -- John Burroughs, American naturalist and author (1837–1921)

The 100 Greatest Films?

TIME magazine posted a list of the 100 Greatest Films of all time. "Apocalypse Now" is missing, but "Finding Nemo" made the cut. The most popular director was Martin Scorsese with three films on the list. Robert De Niro led all actors with five. Go ahead and talk amongst yourselves. Apparently, that is the point:
"100 lists are fun to discuss, fun to argue over," Richard Schickel (TIME magazine movie critic) told The Associated Press. "I don't think anybody should say, `That's it, that's the final 100! No disputing this for the rest of eternity!' You know, stuff changes. Life changes. You change." [MSNBC.com]
Now, I liked Finding Nemo, truly enjoyed it, but does Nemo really hold its own on a list like this?

Delaware County Bible Mom

"All About Me" is now All About A Lawsuit There is an upset mother in Delaware County. And she is upset enough to sue on behalf of her six year old son, and the Christian Bible. The kindergarten class of the Culbertson Elementary School, in the Marple Newtown School District, had a classroom activity called All About Me in which:
...parents of Culbertson Elementary School kindergarten students were invited to the school last October "to share a talent, short game, small craft or story" that would help the class learn a little more about their child. [delcotimes.com]
One of the options was to have the mother or father share a reading from the child's favorite book. So far, so good. Right? Right. On the appointed day, Newtown Square resident Donna Kay Busch, mother of 6-year-old Wesley Busch, came to her son’s class prepared to read a passage from his favorite book. To be specific, she planned to read four verses from Psalm 118 of the Old Testament. That's right, little Wesley's favorite book is the Bible. Well, the teacher got a tad concerned and contacted the school principal, Thomas Cook. Mr. Cook concluded that reading the passage would violate the separation of church and state, and decided against letting her read it in class. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that the "Bible Mom" is upset enough to sue. This very month, Busch filed suit in U.S. District Court:
The school district, school board, Mesaros [Superintendent] and Cook are named as defendants in the suit, which states 6-year-old Wesley Busch "suffered personal humiliation, embarrassment and emotional distress" as a result of the decision not to let his mother read Psalm 118 of the Old Testament. Busch is seeking damages in excess of $100,000, attorney’s fees and a ruling from the court that acknowledges her rights were violated. [delcotimes.com]
Is this a problem? Does the lawsuit seem frivilous? Some folks are saying that if the mother had wanted to read from any other religious text, there wouldn't even be a story. But Ed Partridge, president of the Marple Newtown School Board, has acknowledged that:
[R]eligion may be talked about in schools "in terms of culture and tradition. But no one is allowed to come in and read from the Bible, the Torah or the Koran."
So, is this a case of Bible-bashing? Or is the school board justified in their actions? In general, I don't see what the big deal is. I have no more a problem with a reading from the Christian Bible than I do with passages from the Havamal, the Upanishads, the Tao Teh Ching, the Kalavala, or a Native American sacred story. In fact, I would hope that -- within the context of exposing children to various religious ideas and pointing out that different people believe different things -- teachers are doing this very kind of thing. But perhaps I'm just naive on this topic. However, I have to say a few things before closing:
  1. I am a little skeptical that a six year old -- with no coaching from his mother -- chose the Bible as his favorite book.
  2. Perhaps Busch could have picked a better passage than Psalm 118 as her reading. Even if little Wesley truly did choose the Bible for his mother to read, I really can't see a six-year-old putting this particular chapter on his top-ten list.
  3. This whole thing smacks of an attention-getting "oh Christians are being persecuted" attempt. Just check out this quote from Busch:
    "I would like there to be an awareness of the hostilities toward Christians that exist at that school." [Philly Inquirer]
Hostilities? Really? I don't think Busch's situation qualifies as hostile. This does. But in Culbertson Elementary's case, maybe school officials are just not comfortable with proselytizing Christians. Now, I have heard that there is a difference between Proselytizing and Evangelizing, but they both seem undesirable to me. The bottom line is this: Unless Person A specifically asks Person B about B's faith, or the subject comes up in the course of a philosophical discussion, Person B should pretty much keep said faith to oneself. Background: Updated 05.27.2005 with new title.

Death by Plastic

The Pirates of Illiopolis Biologist Sandra Steingraber takes a frightening, in-depth look inside the secretive, highly toxic, and dangerous world of PVC manufacturing in small-town America.

In the current issue of Orion magazine.

I'm still reading the piece. I'll update this blog entry with my own thoughts/review later.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Quotable

The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The proof that man is the noblest of all creatures is that no other creature has ever denied it. -- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 - 1799) To which I must say ... HA! What kind of proof is that?! This is the same kind of rationale that the Bush Administration would spout in support of their policies.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday Pet Blogging | The Empty Tissue Box

My first official post since my voluntary hiatus would be about the cats (or one of them), wouldn't it?
When I arrived home from rehearsal tonight, Otis kept making some noise near the kitchen bench. No, he wasn't sick again. This was more of a percussive thing. "Just what the heck is he doing over there?" we wondered.
Well, we were pretty curious. And since this was interrupting the story I was trying to tell Mrs. Brainwise, we pretty much decided to drop the story and investigate. Turns out the noise was just Otis batting a Puffs box. You see, he just had to have that empty tissue box that was sitting in the recycling lid[1]. More accurately, he just had to try to get inside of it. And as you can see, he was pretty happy with his efforts:

"You are no match for me and my Puffs Box!"

Photo taken 05.19.2005 Originally uploaded by brainwise.

I'm pretty glad I had the camera-phone handy. I might be even happier if that had not been my last box of tissues. (It really wasn't).

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed here ... just in case you missed one. And do keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the Carnival of the Cats, served fresh every Sunday.

______________________________

[1] In case you didn't know, a recycling lid is a box lid used to collect ... um ... recyclables such as cardboard. At least, that's what it is in our kitchen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Suspended

No, there is no left- or right-wing conspiracy in action here. I just need a little time to catch up. Homework is mounting, Otis has some kind of infection, work is crazy, and Mrs. Brainwise is pet-sitting elsewhere (but still dealing with a sick animal). Sigh. I am sorry that I left the blog without any updates since last Friday, but at least now you know I have not dropped off the face of the Earth. Well, not completely ... I still have a fingerhold.

Friday, May 06, 2005

More Friday Pet Blogging | Kitten War!

Mrs. Brainwise gets the credit for this link...

Cute is hell.

Friday Pet Blogging (Sorry it's late!) | Peek

OK! OK! I'm sorry this is sooo late. I was not feeling well today. But, for the record, I was planning to do this bright and early. I was just not very bright when it was early.
Anyway...
Mrs. Brainwise loves pets. Just loves 'em. So much so that she has made something of a name for herself in the pet-sitting circles. (I don't know if there truly are such circles. But if there were, trust me ... she would be in the center. Oh, just work with me on this!) And pet-sitting usually requires house-sitting as well. Er, well, staying at the house to keep an eye on the pet in the evening. I don't know if Otis is jealous of the other pets, since he has never seen them, but he does know what the suitcase means.
"Mommy's not going to be here! Oh nooooooo!"
"I'm holding the jacket and this toothpaste box as my hostages."

Just look at his face! Click the pic for a larger version at Flickr. Oh my gods, he is just too cute. The little beast.

OK. So the pic does not exactly capture the "Oh No" aspect of his reaction to Mrs. Brainwise's upcoming departure, but trust me. He was bummed. He just got too distracted by the toothpaste box. He actually tried to get into it!

Of course, that's the shot I missed! :(

But Otis is truly missing his mommy. I don't stay in one place long enough for him to get a good snuggle going.

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed here ... just in case you missed one. And do keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the Carnival of the Cats, served fresh every Sunday.
Photo Date: May 2, 2004

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"Pope My Ride"

Rising Hegemon's Dr. Attaturk asks the new Pope for a favor. He just wants a little help with the ladies, and it seems that a certain bulletproof vehicle might do the trick (but not, of course, get them to turn any tricks). Hilarious!

Oh, for the love of Pod(casting)

Jazz, Running Scared's resident podcast-o-phile, is probably all over this story from webpronews.com: Adam Curry Returns To The Airwaves The podcast inventor joins SIRIUS Satellite Radio with -- wait for it now -- a podcasting show. This joint venture between SIRIUS and PodCast.com, called Adam Curry's PodShow, is set to debut later this month.
"Podcasting is not just about portable media players," said Curry, the former star MTV VJ who developed podcasting in mid-2004. "Podcasting is an entirely new form of broadcasting that enables anyone to create powerful content.
Now, if video killed the radio star. And music downloads are killing the RIAA. What exactly will podcasting kill (or thoughtfully maim)?
Image borrowed from B3TA

Quotable

Today's quotable speaks to us from ancient Egypt...
The image “http://www.brainwise.org/Images/quoteOpen.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Put writing in your heart, that you may protect yourself from hard labor of any kind and be a magistrate of high repute.
This good advice comes from a 19th Dynasty (1298 - 1187 B.C.E.) Egyptian inscription. In other words, learn your hierglyphs and you'll be on easy street. Source: Egyptian School Daze; Archeology Magazine, March/April 2005

Smalltown (Big) Blues

Buck has posted his story of small mindedness in a small town. He, DJ Dominatra, and David & Tammy Marsteller all have my sincere wishes that this thing gets worked out for the good of all -- particularly the music fans who could ultimately suffer.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mapping Cultural Values

The World Values Survey has released their Inglehart Values Map, which "visualizes the strong correlation of values in different cultures." The map shows that "countries are clustered in a remarkably predictable way." Really? What do you think:


It seems to me that this graphic is the result of a couple of ivory-tower profs who tried really hard to squeeze a bunch of unrelated data into an almost meaningful diagram. And I am very suspicious of their data collection methods. I mean, when they mention Traditional/ Secular-rational values, whose tradition are they using? I would say that Judeo-Christian values differ depending on whether you are looking at pre- or post-industrial society. And in both of those cases, the Judeo-Christian set's values are decidedly different from, say, those of a folkway oriented belief system such as Asatru (inspired by the pre-Christian culture in Northern Europe), the Lakota tradition (as just one example of Native American Spiruality), or Andean Shamanism (as an example of a pre-Columbian tradition in South America). Go through the whole thing here:

It's TIME for a Convention

But not a conventional convention, nosiree. This is the Time Traveler Convention, hosted at MIT (42.360007,-071.087870 in decimal degrees) this Saturday. From the web page:
We need you to help PUBLICIZE the event so that future time travelers will know about the convention and attend. This web page is insufficient; in less than a year it will be taken down when I graduate, and futhermore, the World Wide Web is unlikely to remain in its present form permanently. We need volunteers to publish the details of the convention in enduring forms, so that the time travelers of future millennia will be aware of the convention. This convention can never be forgotten! We need publicity in MAJOR outlets, not just Internet news. Think New York Times, Washington Post, books, that sort of thing. If you have any strings, please pull them.
And they have a few suggestions for the help they need:

Write the details down on a piece of acid-free paper, and slip them into obscure books in academic libraries! Carve them into a clay tablet! If you write for a newspaper, insert a few details about the convention! Tell your friends, so that word of the convention will be preserved in our oral history! A note: Time travel is a hard problem, and it may not be invented until long after MIT has faded into oblivion. Thus, we ask that you include the latitude/longitude information when you publicize the convention.

You can also make an absolute commitment to publicize the convention afterwards. In that case, bring a time capsule or whatever it may be to the party, and then bury it afterwards.

I have a few more specific suggestions for the help they need, but we won't get into that right now -- if ya know what I mean. But even after saying that -- and despite the fact that Prophet or Madman isn't acid-free ... paper -- I'll post the info and link here anyway. Why? Because it's fun! And it gives me another excuse to mention my brilliant Dr. Who Revival idea, and even post a pic of the good ol' TARDIS:
TARDIS Console TARDIS Console
If you decide to go, and you are not currently a Time Lord, you might want to check one or two of the books from the convention's recommended reading list. Hmmmm ... I wonder if one should RSVP from the future? Thanks to Heretical Ideas for the info.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Monday Afternoon Poetry Blogging

National Poetry Month is over, but that doesn't mean I have to stop the Monday Poetry Blogging... TODAY

Today he is Batman His true identity concealed via his jet-black cape still damp from the dryer

Today he duels evil Racing against time in his convertible top, two-door plastic Playskool car

Today he breaks cryptic codes Hacking into his Etch A Sketch and disabling reactor buttons on his mom’s cell phone

Today he saves Gotham City One cruel-intentioned peace-threatening plush toy at a time

Tonight he departs to the Bat Cave After a long day of portraying Batman he closes his eyes and ponders what is to come tomorrow

Tomorrow he is Captain Hook and Barbie is walking the plank

-- Jessica McKeon, winner of the fifth annual PARADE Classroom® Poetry Contest For more about this young poet, see the Fresh Voices feature in the April 24, 2005 issue of PARADE Magazine.

Quotable | Miles Davis

Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there. -- Miles Davis (1926 - 1991) And if you can only play one Miles disc, make certain it's one of these (I tried to pick only one, but I could not decide between them):
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain
My father introduced me to the musical genius of Miles Davis. I don't remember any fanfare surrounding my first listen to Kind of Blue. I may have even found that one on my own. But I distinctly remember my father's hand in the Sketches of Spain experience. He sat me down with the Sketches liner notes and spun the disc. I was amazed at how clearly the music evoked the land of Spain. And, if I am not mistaken, these recordings were born out of Davis' intense love of Spanish music, a love that was fostered even though he had yet to travel to the Iberian peninsula. Seriously. Just get a copy. You won't regret it.