Thursday, June 26, 2008

Buzzing Off

Basically, we're all doomed. But who will be the first to go?

By "we", I mean humans. The bees will have already vacated this Earth ahead of us -- if you believe everything that you've been hearing about the disappearing bees.

I first heard about this a couple of years ago. News reports informed us that entire colonies of bees are dying out. And not just dying out in the normal way; the critters are just vanishing, leaving no little bee corpses to be found in the hives. Strange story, I thought. But the implications are serious; the ecosystem depends a great deal on bee pollination. Without bees, a significant portion of our food source is gone.

However, the disappearing bees constituted a "slow news day" type of story, and I forgot about it. A few months ago, I saw Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie, in which bees stopped pollinating, and nearly starved humanity. At the time, I didn't see the connection -- Oh, look! It's a little bee who talks like Seinfeld! How cute! -- but now it's blatantly obvious.

A couple of times this year, characters in Doctor Who made references to vanishing bees. That's what sparked my memory. If the concept has ingrained itself into popular culture, then people are still worried about it. So I decided to do some 10-minute Internet research.

There are an unbelievable number of videos on YouTube covering the disappearing bee phenomenon. You could waste a day looking at them. I did not. I settled for this remarkably rational one:

Thank God for the skeptics, that's what I say. I look at the bee problem the same way I do at global warming and climate change: I don't deny that something is happening, but at the same time, I don't buy the propaganda disguised as conventional wisdom from those who refuse to apply rational thought to the matter.

If we can save the bees, great. If the bees go, we will adapt. It's our nature.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Secret To His Success

I'd like to try the Superstar Billy Graham diet. Who knew those things were so nutritious?

We Live On a Radioactive Ball Of Mud

At least, that's the impression I had when I saw last week's mid-season cliffhanger on Battlestar Galactica. I spent some of my free time over the weekend digesting what various blogs had to say about the shock ending. As painful as it is, knowing that I will have to wait another half-year for the final half-season, I am impressed with the way so many things were wrapped up...while many other things were left open to question. Everyone knows who the secret four Cylons are. D'Anna's faction has made peace with the humans. Bill and Laura are in love (awwww). Lee Adama finally found his calling. And the fleet finally reached the end of its journey and found the home of the long-lost thirteenth colony: Earth.

Or did it?

The 'net is rife with arguments over whether the irradiated wasteland is actually our Earth, and if it is, whether the final scene takes place in New York City. The best suggestion that I have read thus far is that the Colonial-Cylon landing party has set foot on Ellis Island. Perfect! Illegal immigrants from space, and no one to stop them from entering the country. I can't wait until next week to find out what's going to happen.

Too bad "next week" is over six months away. I hope the creators can keep up the pace that was set in the last two episodes. The show, while rightly acknowledged by critics and fans as one of the best ever, has been predictably inconsistent in each season thus far. It starts off strong...then gets better. Around mid-season (or mid-half-season) things slow to a near stop with one or two episodes that are thoroughly boring and do nothing to advance any story arcs. Then it picks up again, and ends on a cliffhanger that has viewers talking for months afterwards.

The show's biggest other problem is one that it shares with the original 1978 series: The more we see of the Cylons, the better. The show's premise was that a group of human refugees are fleeing from the Cylon Empire. When Count Iblis showed up, "delivered" Baltar to the Galactica, and got the Cylon's off of the fleet's tail, the old show went downhill. It lost its purpose, and by the time the Cylons re-appeared, the show had already been canceled. The new show has not made the same mistake, mainly because most story arcs are tied up in the Cylon-Human conflict at some level, but there have been shows that took place almost exclusively in the fleet. Zzzzzzzz.
Things happened when we saw the Cylons on Caprica during the first and second seasons. Scenes that took place on base ships moved the story along. The Year Without Cylons on New Caprica was passed over in about two minutes. Each clash between Cylon and Human, whether with weapons or with words, brought progress. The factions have united and discovered what is presumably Earth. There's no way that they can screw this up now.

Further observations:

  • The radioactive wasteland, I suspect, is somehow going to be explained through the prism of creator Ron Moore's leftist politics views. My least favorite moments in the series were all tied up in Moore's injections of current American politics into the story. Most of the time, it was irrelevant to the ongoing story; he did it just for the sake of doing it.
  • On the other hand, it would have been interesting if the fleet had discovered planet Earth in the year 2008. The show has a fairly diverse cast. From what I can recall, there has been no prejudice based on skin color; all human bigotry on the show is based on colony of origin, and there does not seem to be any colony that is all one color. If they had landed on today's Earth, people would have picked the Colonials apart by race. So maybe it's a good thing that we're all dead when Galactica comes home.
  • Speaking of skin color, it seems like the "less white" the Cylon babe is, the hotter she is. Number Six is okay for a one-night stand, but I can't see getting into a long-term relationship with her. D'Anna Biers is nice if you have a thing for a Dominatrix MILF type. She'd keep you coming back for more. Sharon Valerii is cute and sexy, a great combination that makes her a prospect for a long-term relationship. Then we come to the hidden models. When Tory discovered her true self, she officially became the hottest Cylon babe. I was starting to have a crush on her not long after she because Roslin's aide. When she defected to the base ship, I was ready to pack my bags and join her. Following my system of "darker=hotter" Cylon babe rating, it follows that Anastasia ("Dee") must be the final Cylon. I hope. They'll probably ruin my ratings system by making it Elosha. That would not be cool. Or hot.
  • Anyway, I have a feeling that Romo Lampkin is the final Cylon. Lampkin was a protege of Bill Adama's father, Joseph Adama. According to spoilers for the upcoming BSG prequel Caprica, Joseph Adama was around -- and possibly involved in -- the creation of the first Cylons. That's a thing that makes you go "hmmm".
  • The Lampkin candidacy assumes that the final is still alive. I suspect that he/she/it might already be dead, as much as that would suck. We have plenty of dead characters to choose from.
  • Baltar must be impotent; otherwise, he would have impregnated Caprica Six or D'Anna long ago. (Or any of the other 500 or so women he's bedded during the show's run.) Tigh did it in just a few conjugal visits to the brig.
  • How is babby formed? How Six get pragnent? I thought Cylons couldn't breed with one another. Is there something special about the final five that makes them run more like humans?
  • What am I going to do for the next six months? This might be a good window of opportunity to rent or borrow the first three seasons on DVD so I can revisit the shows that I haven't seen in years. It should be interesting watching the older episodes now that I know Tigh and Tyrol are Cylons.
And season four of Doctor Who ends in a few weeks. Darn it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

His Ride Is A Horse, Of Course, Of Course

About that Conestoga wagon thing that I pointed out the other day?

Well, at least one guy is doing something about it. He decided to save money by riding his horse to a service station to buy cigarettes.

Of course, if he really wanted to show some fiscal smarts, he would stop smoking. That would save him plenty in both the short term and the long run.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ron Paul Supporters Gopher An Alternative Convention

Congressman Ron Paul's chances of getting elected President this year fizzled out weeks ago, but he's still working to keep his message alive. Dr. Paul's campaign is planning to hold a rival convention in Minneapolis while the Republican National Convention takes place in neighboring Saint Paul.

It seems that the RNC is shutting out Ron Paul because he won't kiss John McCain's ass. Now let me make this clear: I intend to vote for John McCain in November. I will vote for him against Barack Obama, just as I would vote for him against any Democrat. McCain has his flaws, but I don't dislike the man. Indeed, there is much to admire about him. The fact remains, however, that he is the establishment candidate, and he has a long record of compromise and conciliation that helped him get where he is today. In that spirit, John McCain and the Republican Party should reach out to Ron Paul and recognize the support he has received from Republican primary voters by inviting him to speak to the RNC.

Sorry, Dr. Paul, but we can't let a principled politician whose beliefs and practices are rooted in the basic philosophy of the Republican Party speak at the Republican convention. Make nice with us and we'll play with you.

Ron Paul is too principled to do that. He has valid reasons for not throwing his support behind John McCain. So, in order to let anyone who will listen know that he still has something to say, He is going to have his own rally concurrent with the second night of the RNC.

He has an interesting venue lined up:

Williams Arena, located on the Twin Cities main campus of the University of Minnesota is the home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers men's and women's basketball teams. The building is known affectionately as "The Barn," and its student section is known as The Barnyard.
Perfect! If this gathering is like any other political convention or rally, it should certainly resemble the inside of a barn full of animals. I wouldn't mind going up there to see it in person, if I could, but I probably won't. My vacation plans this year revolve around spending a couple of weeks (and a lot of money, unfortunately) in the City of Angels. I'll be lucky if I can afford to get back to Pittsburgh after that, let alone make a side trip to Minnesota.

If I did go, I could stay at my kind-hearted, beneficent relative's house just twelve minutes from The Barn. Heck, I could even go to Keegan's, the conservative Minnesota bloggers' favorite hangout, just six minutes on the other side of The Barn. That would be a top night.

Instead, I'll stay home and watch on TV (or the Internet). No visit to the Williams Arena for me, sorry to say. That building is over 80 years old. It's hard to say how long it will be before someone decided to tear it down and build a 21st century facility, which begs the question: If The Barn is demolished, will there resulting pile of debris be christened "Barney Rubble"?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Just Stop Using The Damn Stuff

Damn, do gas prices suck these days or what? I'm not as bothered as a lot of other people seem to be. I practically have front door service for my daily commute, since my employer subsidizes my bus rides, and my wife can walk to work in under a minute. The only place I drive to any more is the store, so I can get away with filling the tank on my minivan no more than once per month.

Others are not so lucky. Charities that rely on gas powered vehicles to make deliveries to needy patrons are suffering, as reported in this morning's PG Now. Not to worry -- if you've got horses and hay, there's hope for you yet! At least that was the impression I had when I saw the proximity of these two items on the PG's front page this morning, as seen in the following screen capture:

People are talking about many newfangled alternative energy sources nowadays. Who would ever have thought of buying a Conestoga wagon? There's no fuel like an old fuel.