Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A plea.

   We'd been on the road for almost two and a half hours. I was doing my best to keep the speedometer in between ninety-five and one hundred in the eighty kilometre zone. I was getting tired, and I had to pee. Knowing that Marmora was coming up in ten or fifteen minutes, I may have been subconsciously pushing it a bit. The road seemed nice and level, but it, too, may have been conspiring against me with an imperceptible downhill slope. And then my wife said what she said, and the rest is history.

   You can see what's coming, can't you?

   "HPV," she muttered.
   "Hmmm?" I asked.
   "Oh, nothing. This magazine article is saying something about Human, uh, Pamplimosa..."
Human Papilloma Virus," I informed her. She raised her eyebrows. The question was clear: what did I know about Human Papilloma Virus? So I told her:

   HPV is actually a group of similar viruses. There are over 100 variations. Approximately 30 of those variations have been shown by medical studies to cause or significantly contribute to the development of cervical cancer. Although both men and women can be infected by HPV, at this time researchers do not think that it is a precursor to cancer in men.
   A couple of drug companies have developed vaccines that prevent the contraction of the strains of the virus most commonly associated with cervical cancer. The medical community would like to see those vaccines added to the roster of vaccinations currently given to preadolescent children. Incidences of cervical cancer have decreased by almost 75% over the last several decades, due to improved screening and treatment methods of the precancerous cells caused by HPV. The universal adoption of these vaccines could sound a virtual death knell for the disease.
   Members of the religious right in the United States, however, have spoken out against the plan to universally inoculate our children against this disease. Why? Human Papilloma Virus, you see, is a sexually transmitted disease. The rationale, so I'm told, goes something like this. 'If we vaccinate our children against STDs, we are giving them tacit permission to be sexually active.' To that opinion, there is only one response:


   First, we are talking about adding the HPV vaccine to the slate of inoculations that children generally receive at around eleven or twelve years old. It will be just one more needle. There is no need to announce to the child that they are being inoculated against an STD.
   Second, there is absolutely no evidence that educating our children about how to protect themselves against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases increases their likelihood to engage in sexual activity. Conversely, there is no evidence that failing to educate our children on these matters decreases their likelihood to experiment with members of the opposite sex.
   Third, why leave anything at all tacit? If you want your child to understand that you believe sex before marriage to be a bad thing, look them straight in the eyes and say, "sex before marriage is a bad thing, and here is why..." The way to negate any perceived tacit approval is to make the prohibition explicit.

   There is another reason to support the use of the new HPV vaccines. A reason the right-wing loonies, with their biblical blinkers firmly in place, seem completely unable to comprehend. It is possible for a person to not sin, yet still contract a sexually transmitted disease. Consider the following scenario.
   Woman is chaste and virtuous. Man? Well, not so much. Woman meets man. Man conceals his less than savoury past from woman. Woman falls in love with man. Man proposes to woman. Man and woman have a fairy-tale wedding and honeymoon in Nashville, Tenn. Woman, who was a virgin until her wedding night, submits to her husband, as all good Christian women should. Man transmits Human Papilloma Virus to woman. Several years later, a good, God fearing, Christian woman dies a slow, painful death from cervical cancer.
   The story doesn't end there. A member of the religious right looks the man in the eye, and makes some kind of comment about divine justice. Hopefully, that member of the religious right walks away with two black eyes and a broken jaw.

   It was at about this point in my rant that the approaching OPP officer lit up his cherries, flashed past, and pulledthe fastest U-turn I have ever seen in my life. I looked down at my speedometer, and said, "Oh...crap!"

   So you see, judge, that's how a two minute discussion with my wife caused me to accelerate to thirty-eight kilometres over the posted, legal speed limit at just the wrong time, thereby causing me to receive a $285.00 speeding ticket. Please, be lenient.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

The brain is the sexiest organ.

   The new kid on the skeptical blogging street is Skepchick, the blog of the Skepchick group, an organization of female skeptics and critical thinkers. I think this entry is an excellent introduction. I highly recommend you read it.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Meme, meme, not meme.

The name of the roseUmberto Eco: The Name of the Rose.
You are a mystery novel dealing with theology,
especially with catholic vs liberal issues.
You search for wisdom and knowledge endlessly,
feeling that learning is essential in life.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Found at Patrick's Weekender via The Daily Snooze.

   This Johari Window thing is kind of interesting. I'm starting to form an opinion on it, but I'd like to see some more feedback first. If you haven't yet done so, please participate in my Johari Window. If you can't stand me and would prefer to tell me what is wrong with me, try my Nohari Window instead.

   Natalie has posted a tribute to one of AOL J-land's founding journalers. Carly's blog, Ellipsis, was one of the first several journals started here. It speaks volumes about AOL's business practices that Carly, A.K.A. Ondine Monet, is no longer using the AOL journals platform. She, along with hundreds of other vital members of AOL J-land left for other services when AOL added advertising to the top of their journals. Drop by and see what Nat has to say, and then head over to Ellipsis...Suddenly Carly and check her out.


Return of the Fecalgram

   Matt, from Pooflingers Anonymous, is back in the saddle. I know that many who read me won't have a clue who Matt is or know that he was MIA. Now that he is back, I recommend you click on over there and check him out. Not everyone has the ability to raise flinging poo to quite this level.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Grab and go," he said.

   Jaquandor, as is his wont, declined to tag someone. The questions kinda grabbed me, though, so here I go.

1: Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies?

   I have to assume that the original author of the query was referring specifically to the colorized versions of old black and white films, because I can't imagine why anyone would want to convert a newer film to B&W. I'd have to say that I prefer the original black and white versions. When film makers had only light and shadow to work with, they had to work harder to get across the full gamut of desired expression, and colorizing takes away from the ability to appreciate the talent involved in lighting and cinematography on those old masterpieces.

2: What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death?

   The debate over colorizing black and white films. Oh, and country music.

3: MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music?

   I would exclude only mp3s, as I do not listen to music on my computer. Other than that, the music is the important thing, and the medium the artist chooses as the way they think is best to showcase their art is the one I will listen to.

4: You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going ... Ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?


5: Seriously, what do you consider the world's most pressing issue now?


6: How would you rectify the world's most pressing issue?

   Bring on The Rapture. What do you mean, 'come on?' You didn't say 'seriously' on this question. What do you mean, 'it was implied?' OK, so, education, I think, is the key.

7: You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be?

   I wouldn't have fallen off my chair in front that cute girl who liked me at the school dance in grade 10. I'm joking. See my next answer.

8: You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be?

   Are you kidding me? Have you never watched an episode of Star Trek? If you change sonething in the past, there's no telling what the ramifications could be in the present. We could all end up as slaves of the Klingon Empire, or worse, seventies fashion could have caught on and lasted. Don't mess with time travel, man!

9: A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole' Opry --Which do you choose?

   The opera, no question. It's not that I prefer the one type of music over the other. It's just that I'm much less likely to be sitting next to a guy with shit on his boots at the opera.

10: What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you'd like to solve?

   Who shot JR? Oh, wait, did they solve that one? OK, I guess I'd have to say Donald Trump's hair. Listen, some people's wonders of the world are other people's crimes against nature.

11: One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?

   You know, I honestly can't think of anything to say here. I'm not one to get star struck by famous people. They are just people, after all. Writers possibly more so than other 'famous' people. Guy Kay is a great person. Let's go with him, and say that what I serve for dinner is probably less important than what scotch I serve after dinner.

12: You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky -- what's the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact?

   You know, I don't mean to be rude, or anything, but that is one of the stupidest questions I've ever heard asked. It is just plain silly to think that someone who has been raised to behave morally, or converted to moral behaviour based on some religious ideal would suddenly do an about face just because they learned the truth.
   Morals are not some absolute concept dictated by an imaginary sky daddy. They are a consensus of what the community to which we belong deems acceptable behaviour. Human beings are pack animals. We have always lived in groups. The worst thing that could happen to early man was to be ostrasized; to be kicked out of his tribe. It invariably meant death. Moral behaviour became whatever would be acceptable to the rest of the tribe, and immoral behaviour,whatever would get you 'cast out'. Religions are no more than extended tribes to which people can feel good about belonging.
   We have names for people who knowingly and willingly commit immoral behaviours just because they think they need fear no retribution. We don't call them atheists, we call them sociopaths.

Oh, yeah. I have to tag somebody. How about The Simian, The Corpse, and The Secretary. You're it. And, you know, if you wanna go ahead and do it anyway, be my guest. That's what I did.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Like cliches to the sea...

   Far be it from me to be pedantic enough to point out to Jaquandor that his lemming reference, while everyone understands it, is no longer technically accurate. Unless, of course, I was joining the migration.

   Please see below my own
Johari window, to which I would be pleased if you were to add your own adjectives. Because, you know, it's fun.

(graphic representation of my Johari window to follow upon receipt of code) (honest)

-ok, maybe not. The html code won't translate properly into the AOL journals client. You'll just have to go here instead to see the most current results.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Into which sci-fi crew would I best fit?

   You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don't enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Serenity (Firefly) 100%
Moya (Farscape) 88%
Deep Space Nine (Star Trek) 81%
Babylon 5 (Babylon 5) 75%
Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix) 69%
Bebop (Cowboy Bebop) 63%
Millennium Falcon (Star Wars) 63%
Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica) 63%
Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda) 56%
SG-1 (Stargate) 44%
Enterprise D (Star Trek) 25%
FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files) 19%

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in?
created with QuizFarm.com

As you can see, I corrected the title for grammar. Found at...hell, I can't remember. I could have sworn it was one of Shelly's blogs, but now I can't find it again.


Dude, I got a Dell!



"Yes, I lied. I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."

   I have a question. When attributing a quotation from a movie, do you give the nod to the movie character who spoke the line, the actor portraying that character, or the writer from whom the line of dialogue originated? Who said, "I find your lack of faith disturbing?" Was it Darth Vader, or James Earl Jones; or was it really George Lucas?
   In the example that leads off this entry, a line from the movie A Knight's Tale, the situation is complicated by the fact that the actor speaking the line, Paul Bettany, is portraying a historical figure. There was a real Geoffrey Chaucer, who was indeed a writer. While he may have agreed somewhat with the sentiment, I have no idea if he ever expressed it in that (or any other) way.
   Further clouding the issue, Bettany and the film's writer/director, Brian Helgeland, are good friends and frequent collaborators. Given the somewhat evolutionary process filmmaking often is, it can be difficult to determine who a specific line of dialogue really came from.
   Consider another example from the Star Wars universe. In the second (I mean fifth (I think)) film, The Empire Strikes Back, a memorable exchange takes place between the characters of Princess Leia, and Han Solo. As the bad guys are about to put Solo into the carbonite freezing machine, Leia looks at him and says, "I love you." Solo looks back at her, a tender expression on his face, and replies, "I know." And thus a timeless classic film line was born.
   We know, from subsequent discussions of the film that the scene was in the original screenplay, as written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. We also know that the director, Irvin Kirshner, didn't like the way the scene played, and decided to change Solo's response at the last minute. They tried numerous lines, but couldn't find anything to make Kirshner happy. Finally, in frustration, he filmed one last take, without giving Harrison Ford a line to speak. Kirshner just told him to "say something." The result is perhaps the most honestly Han Soloish bit of dialogue in the entire original trilogy.
   Which brings me back to the problem of attribution. I could attribute the lines to the actors who spoke them, but that would seem to me to be more correct for Ford than for Carrie Fisher (who played Leia). I could attribute Leia's line to the screenwiters, and Solo's to Ford, but that's just plain complicated and confusing. Attributing them to the characters involved gets me in trouble with my lead-in quote; there being a real Chaucer who probably never said anything even remotely close to what Bettany said on screen in A Knight's Tale.
   The safest solution seems to be to simply name the source of the quote; that is, the work it came from. For example: "Whoa!"--The Matrix...I mean Speed...or Point Break...um, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure? Hmm....
   If you have an opinion on this, or perhaps some insight into current conventions on the topic, I'd love to hear from you.

   Oh, by the way, "I'm back."
                                   --Sam Gamgee...I mean, The Lord Of The Rings...um, I mean Sean Astin...uh...J.R.R. Tolkien...hell, I have no idea what I mean.


Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Guess what.

   I ordered a new computer from Dell. It'll be here in about a week. Also, it was my birthday yesterday. As Pink Floyd said,
"The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older,
Shorter of breath, and one day closer to death."
   That is all.