Thoughts of Random Depth

A bit late to the fad that is the blog. . .This space is used to examine and explicate events and thoughts which are either too important to ignore or too amusing to miss.

20060607

Hell, Yeah...We Survived 6/6/06...Or Did We?

While all roads, eventually, must lead to Hell, it seems that humanity managed to escape our collectively imagined fates on Tuesday as 6/6/06 passed with nary a whimper from Megiddo, the Anti-Christ, or even Marilyn Manson. Hell, Michigan, a tiny hamlet less than 60 miles west of Detroit, is usually home to approximately 70 souls of the darned. Yet, on Tuesday, according to Yahoo! News, Hell, had one Hell of a quiet day:

Thousands packed the ominously named small town in Michigan to turn the 6/6/6 day -- symbolic of Satan and other devilish matters -- into a party. They jammed the town's only bar, the Dam Site Inn, spilling out onto the street. But there was no sign of apocalypse. "You've got to have faith," said Faith Dzwigalski, 50, who spent the previous night writing 66 letters to friends around the globe so she could mail them from Hell. "I did it for the postmark," the Woodhaven, Michigan resident said. "I told everyone, You've better change your ways or you'll wind up here in Hell!" Asked if he thought the world might end, 41-year-old Vince Timlin said: "Im betting against it. I came because I knew the freaks would be here." 1

Um, yeah. There's a quotation for Hell's Chamber of Commerce to feature on all their public relations material.

Dozens of "normal" folk came to Hell from all over to stand in line to buy plastic "stick-on" devil's horns and "666" t-shirts. "We can't even keep those in stock," said Chad Wines, an employee at Screams Ice Cream, working to keep up with demand for souvenirs and ice cream on what proved to be a hot day in Hell."2

Hollyweird even hosted a dark mass to mark the day. The mass was the creation of the creator of modern Satanism, Anton Szandar La Vey. The mass, which was, not surprisingly, sold-out, also commemorated the founding in 1966 of The Church of Satan. Lavey was nicknamed the "black pope" of Satanism by the media. According to the Church of Satan Website:

"Satanists from around the globe are converging on that city-of-the-damned known in common parlance as Los Angeles," the group said on its website.

The mass, an original three-act dramatic ritual, will be celebrated in a theatre with a telephone prefix of 666 by Bryan Moore and Heather Saenz, married suburbanite Satanic priests and parents.

But Satanists say they actually have no regard for the number. "For Satanists, numbers are just numbers, and June 6, 2006 is a day like any other," says Satanic High Priest Peter Gilmore. Some believers though have tried to time childbirth with the date, and some of the superstitious have attempted to delay deliveries to avoid it, according to Gilmore's comments posted on the church website.3

Okay, then. In fact, Christians who have actually READ the Bible know that the KJV makes no mention of 666, the number (or 616, even) as a date to be feared.7 Las Vegas had the right attitude. apparently, the odds of 6/6/06 being the apocalypse were 100,000-to-1. Of course, then there's the little problem of being able to collect your winnings.6

Signs of DOOM

However, don't think the dark forces weren't at work Tuesday. " Michigan lottery officials reported that a disproportionate number of players bet on 666." Additionally, "33-year-old Michelle Driscroll, 33, of Howell, Mich., was shocked by her lunch tab. It came to 6.66 dollars. "It freaked me out," she said." 1

Vandals targeted the Trinity Lutheran in Minden, Nevada. They apparently left Satanic messages and vulgarities.4 I would hate to see what they would write on "Mother's Day." A Yonkers seminary was also vandalized.5

A Texas baby and a Tenessee baby were born weighing exactly 6.66 pounds.6 I hope they checked the children for a prehensile tail or signs of horns.

According to CTV, some of the signs of evil are in the form of marketing: "... on this day of the beast. Popular Christian writers Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, chose to release their new book The Rapture on June 6. The pair are signing the book at 6 p.m. on 6/6/06 in Littleton, Colorado. Some Christian book stores have even agreed to sell other paperbacks by the authors for ... $6.66."8

Christian Protesters also came to Hell in force. I'm not sure why. I suppose they failed to see the irony in the fact that their "Christian" dollars were happily accepted to support Hell's burgeoning economy as they stood on the street corners screaming their message of religious and entertainment intolerance.

They could have just chilled out and taken the short, 300 mile drive, north to "Paradise," a town in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan.

Oh, by the way, if you found yourself paralyzed with fear last Tuesday, you were suffering from: "hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia." I'm sure there's a pill for it. And if you just miss the fun of sitting on the edge of your seat awaiting the end of the world, drink John Nelson Darby's Kool-Aid and head to: "Rapture Ready!" Just leave your extra car keys with me.

FVSU Must Shoot For the Best For New Football Coach

I suppose I have to be the one to ask the question that I thought was obvious. Fort Valley State University is currently looking for a new head football coach. FVSU's new administration dismissed former head coach John Morgan after a few years of Wildcat teams that played winning, but not the championship football, to which the fans and alumni had become accustomed.

So, a search committee is hard at work looking for Morgan's replacement. Please note that I am not on said search committee, nor would I want to be on said search committee. However, I cannot believe that the search committee, President Rivers, the alumni, nor the fans are screaming loudly, and in unison, that the institution hire local football hero Kevin Porter as FVSU's new head coach.

"Who is Kevin Porter," you may ask? If you do, either you aren't from around here or you have a short memory. Porter is a local sports legend. A resident of Warner Robins, Porter was a key player on the Warner Robin's National Championship football team. He starred in college ball as a linebacker at Auburn. He was later drafted in the third round by the Kansas City Chiefs. He played five seasons in the NFL, followed by time playing in the World Football League and then he discovered indoor football. He had a strong career as an arena league player, but really made his mark as a coach. According to the Kansas City Brigade website:

Kevin Porter comes to the Kansas City Brigade with a reputation as one of the Arena Football League's finest young defensive minds, based on his experience of a five-year NFL playing career and coaching tenure in the Arena Football League and af2. In his first season as an AFL defensive coordinator, the VooDoo finished the season with the second ranked scoring defense in the AFL, surrendering only 721 points, the sixth ranked defense and the fourth ranked pass defense. Porter is the winningest coach in af2 history with a 45-27 record. The head coach of the Macon Knights from 2001-03 before joining the VooDoo, Porter took his team to the ArenaCup 2003 championship final game. Porter started his coaching career as head coach of the Pensacola Barracudas, in 2000. As an af2 head coach, Porter took his teams to the playoffs all four seasons. Porter started his coaching career as the defensive backs coach of the AFL Orlando Predators in 1999. 1

On a personal note, Porter's wife, Annjela, is an amazing public-relations wizard. They also have two wonderful off-spring: Jacob and Kellen.

So, why would Porter be a great fit for Fort Valley State? Let me count the ways:
  1. First, he is an amazing coach, who wins championships and teaches young men how to succeed in class and in life.
  2. He has tons of local connections to the community and the Middle Georgia area.
  3. He is a local and regional football legend.
  4. He would be able to bring folks to the games who would buy tickets.
  5. He would be attractive to potential investors and recruits (athletic and academic).
  6. He has contacts in the NFL and NFL Europe so that players who have the skills to play in that level would get a legitimate shot.
  7. He has tons of contacts in arenafootball and af2 so that our players who have the skills to play at that level would have a conduit directly into those leagues.
  8. He would be able to bring in assistant coaches who are much more experienced than the average Division II fare. Folks like Tres Sullivan, Chris Siegfried, Webby Burnett, or Derek Stingley come to mind.

I realize that, as a Division II school, FVSU is not used to taking chances when it comes to hiring coaches. However, this time, I think they should take a shot and reach for the stars. Give K.P. a chance to come home and give the Wildcats a chance to have a championship caliber program and a legendary coach.


20060529

Opening the "Floodgates"


Before the so-called "Seitz decision," in 1975, brought an end to Major League Baseball's "reserve clause," the individual players, whether they be stars or bench-warmers, were the property of the team. They were, literaly, chattel, or slaves, who had little to no rights to negotiate their salaries nor were they allowed to offer their services to other professional teams.

Now, don't get me wrong here, by the standards of the time, the players were paid relatively well; but their wages were miniscule in comparison to the amount the team owners were raking in. Baseball ownership engaged in blatantly monopolistic business practices; but were protected from the Sherman and Clayton anti-trust acts by the 1922 Supreme Court Ruling, The Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs which basically said that baseball didn't fall under the jurisdiction of anti-trust legislation.

So, despite a number of lawsuits which sought to throw out the reserve clause, no one was able to make a dent in it until Curt Flood chose to become a sacrificial martyr for his fellows. If you aren't an avid baseball fan or aren't from St. Louis, you may be asking, "Who is Curt Flood?"

Curt Flood was, by most standards, arguably the best centerfielder during his playing prime. According to Wikipedia:

A three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner, Curt Flood hit .300 or better six times during his 15-year major league career. Arguably the quintessential number two batter, Flood had a lifetime batting average of .293. Lou Brock even called Curt Flood a primary reason for his great success during the prime of his career. As a fielder, Flood was exceptional, and once went 226 consecutive games without making an error.

Curt Flood's greatest years were with the Cardinals. He had a league-leading 211 hits for the Cardinals in 1964, and played on his first of two World Series championship teams that season. Though not usually thought of as a power hitter, Flood had 11 home runs and 83 runs-batted-inWorld Series championship. In 1968, he finished fourth in the balloting for Most Valuable Player on the strength of a .301 batting average and 186 base hits. Ironically, had he not misjudged a Jim Northrup fly ball in the seventh game of the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, the Cardinals might have won their third championship of the decade. It was ruled a base hit. in 1966. In 1967, he hit for a .335 average in helping the Cardinals to another

Despite the uncustomary gaffe, Curt Flood was a solid contributor in all three World Series the St. Louis Cardinals played in that decade, scoring 11 runs and driving in 8 runs.

However, despite his stellar (and some would argue, Hall of Fame-caliber) performance during his career, Curt Flood's legacy was one of sacrifice. Believing that Major League Baseball's decades-old reserve clause was unfair in that it kept players beholden to the team with whom they originally signed for life, even though players had satisfied the terms and conditions of those contracts.1

It is that sacrifice which was most interesting to me. When he sued Major League Baseball, it became evident that the game had taken advantage of an impoverished, young, poorly-educated, black man. Flood's attorneys were quickly able to show that the reserve clause was nothing more than another form of slavery.

The testimony and arguments were powerful. When Flood v. Kuhn ran its course through the judicial system, Curt Flood eventually lost. But the case opened the eyes of players and the public. The players struck in 1972 and by 1975, the reserve clause was history.

Unfortunately, for Flood, he didn't share in the millions that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have reaped as a result of his sacrifice; but that is the price of martyrdom.

The original article I wrote about Flood for The Journal of the Georgia Association of Historians (v.25, 1997) has been archived online as a PDF file by Colorado State. Click HERE to read the article online.

20060528

What the Bleep Do We Know?


An interesting, but in some cases flawed, film which attempts to change one's notion of reality by exploring quantum physics and a reculiar version of spirituality which, I believe is known as "Ramtha," is now available online as a free internet stream.

IMDB.Com describes the film as:

...part documentary, part story, and part elaborate and inspiring visual effects and animations. The protagonist, Amanda, played by Marlee Matlin, finds herself in a fantastic Alice in Wonderland experience when her daily, uninspired life literally begins to unravel, revealing the uncertain world of the quantum field hidden behind what we consider to be our normal, waking reality.1

Wikipedia's description is a bit more precise:

What the Bleep Do We Know (according to the makers "Bleep" is a bowdlerization of "fuck" — William Arntz has referred to the film as "WTFDWK" in a message to 'Bleeps' "Street Team") blends a fictional story line, discussion, and computer animation to present a view of the physical universe and human life within it, often relating this to neuroscience and quantum physics. Some topics discussed include: that the universe is better thought of as being constructed from thought (or ideas) than from substance; that what has long been considered "empty space" is anything but empty; and that our beliefs in who we are and what is real are not simply observations, but rather form ourselves and our realities. Additionally, a brief discussion of the theory that peptides manufactured in your brain can cause a bodily reaction to an emotion brings a new perspective to old adages such as "think positively" and "be careful what you wish for."

In the fictional story, a photographer (Marlee Matlin) acts as the viewer's avatar as she experiences her life from startlingly new and different perspectives. In addition to the story line, a team of experts in quantum physics, biology, medicine, psychiatry, and theology discuss the roots and meaning of Amanda's experiences. However, the viewers are left in the dark on the credentials of the experts until the credits at the end of the movie.2

In other words, aftere viewing the film, we are left to believe that we, the viewer, create our own reality.

The film's website, is busy hocking a five hour long "Quantum" version of the film along with newletters and other goodies...so somebody has found their gold mine.

While there are numerous sites who disagree with "What the Bleep"'s message (see Skeptico, for instance), it's worth a watch, just for the lessons on Quantum physics and to test your critical thinking skills.

The feed is located HERE.

20060527

6/6/06: The Devil's Day? Or Marketing Run Amok?

"Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six." Revelation of St. John the Divine, KJV

I suppose it had to happen. When June 6th, 2006 rolled around on the Gregorian calendar (that's the one most of us use, by the way), the "numerologists" out there quickly noticed that the shorthand method of anotating the day would be 6/6/06.

Oh, my goodness, that's awfully close to the "mark of the beast."

However, other dates are watched carefully by law enforcement officials according to the Denver Post:

Some dates and anniversaries can be calls to action for white supremacists, racists, and conspiracy and prophecy theorists. April 19, for example, is the anniversary of the raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas; the Oklahoma City bombing; and the raid on white separatist Randy Weaver's home at Ruby Ridge, Idaho .3

According to LiveScience.Com:

With 06/06/06 looming (June 6, 2006), authorities in some cities are worrying prophecy theorists or hate groups might read something ominous into the date and use it as an excuse to stir tension. Some expectant mothers are making birthing appointments to ensure they avoid the date, according to the Sunday Times in London.1

Now, if you are horribly naive and do not know what of what the Hell I am speaking; good for you. For the rest of us: It's going to be a fun few weeks because between the fundamental evangelical nutbags, the numerologists, Madison Avenue, and the conspiracy theorists, expect all sorts of of weird, wild, and down-right wooly claims, apparitions, and product launches. For the cynical, it should be amusing.

The fundamentalist evangelicals are making noises that the sixth will be the day that the antichrist will be either born, rise to power, or start armageddon. Despite the fact that, in all probability, the notion of "Antichrist" is a misinterpretation of "antichrists." in the scriptures. [But that's a blog for another day.] According to the Sunday Times of London,

While some Armageddon believers fear that 6/6/06 will be “a day of satanic power” that may be marked by a comet hitting the Earth, others believe that the world is coming closer to what is widely known as “the rapture” — the moment the Lord calls the Christian faithful home and millions of born-again evangelicals will suddenly disappear from the Earth, leaving non-believers behind. On one popular evangelical website last week, a “rapture index” that calculates the likelihood of the Lord’s arrival stood at 156 — which the website declared was time to “fasten your seatbelts”.2

The Numerologists, as usual, are making lots of noise about this date. Numerology, according to LiveScience,

"Numerology has a long history," [Mario Livio] told LiveScience. "You can trace it all the way from the followers of Pythagoras, whose maxim to describe the universe was ‘all is number.'" Thinkers who studied under the famous Greek mathematician combined numbers in different ways to explain everything around them, he said.
Modern numerology has since morphed into a kind of para-science in the same vein as astrology, according to skeptics. Still, many numerologists claim to rely on Pythagoras' ancient system to divine the hidden connections between numbers—often a birth date—and an individual's life. .... Mathematicians are quick to dismiss numerology as having any scientific merit, however.1

To begin with, the number six is considered evil, by numerologists, because it is the number of man. According to Wikipedia:

Six was considered to be the number of man, of imperfection, or evil. It was probably chosen because 7 was considered to be the number of perfection, of completion (seven days of creation), the number of God. Each digit of 666 falls short of being perfect just as man falls short of God's perfection. Being the number of man it can be taken to be the number of the Antichrist, rather than Satan. The Antichrist is Satan's best counterfeit of the one perfect man, Jesus Christ. Yet the Antichrist falls short in every way. Alternately, 666 can be seen as representing the trinity of evil, perhaps, Satan, the Antichrist and the false prophet.5

However, as any good biblical scholar can tell you, the true number of the breast is, in all likelihood "616," so this is all much noise without signifigance or forethought. [again a blog for a later date.]

list of what the folks in Madison Avenue have in store for us:

  • Ann Coulter's new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism will be released.
  • Slayer is launching their "Unholy Alliance Tour: Preaching to the Perverted."
  • Decide, a death metal band, will be releasing a new album that day, entitled: "The Stench of Redemption."
  • Church of Satan is hosting a satanic high mass at the Steve Allen Theater, during which Church of Satan High Priest Peter H. Gilmore will bestow his blessing upon those assembled to, as Gilmore puts it, "champion reason, pluralism, skepticism and abundant joy in life."4


The Conspiracy Theorists would take another book to cover. Here's a list of links to explore if you are so inclined:

It should be a fun week. Assuming, of course, that we don't get struck by a tsunami from that comet fragment. Oh, but wait, that was supposed to end the world as we knew it on 5/25/06. Sheesh, I guess that was another close escape.

20060524

Summer School Update: I'm Teaching Genre: Drama (ENGL 4973)


Head's up! If you are taking classes this summer at Fort Valley State University. I was, just today, assigned to teach English 4793, Genre: Drama course, which meets 3:30 to 4:45 MTWR in Bond 216. If you need to pick up a literature genre course or an literature elective, then please consider adding this course as it should be fun.

The course will cover the history of drama, the elements of drama, stage-craft, we'll delve a little into the construction of character on stage, touch on direction, criticism and analysis, and look at both ancient and contemporary works. Depending on the time we have, I'd like to look at four plays, including:

  • Steambath
  • Streetcar Named Desire
  • The Tempest (or Troilus and Cressida)
  • Streamers or In the Company of Men
If you have questions, email me at sophist@bigfoot.com. Or call the English office at 478.825.6392

World to End Friday--Update Saturday Morning


If you're reading this, and it isn't yet Friday May, 25, 2006 then you still have time, at least according to Eric Julien. Julien says, on his website savelivesinmay.com that on the 25th the Atlantic will be hit with a fragment of the comet 73P which will lead to an enormous tsunami on the east coast of the United States and those of us who live thereupon will be pretty much *ahem* f*!@ed.

However, if you are reading this on the 26th, or later, I'm right and Mr. Julien is just the latest of a long list of individuals who have been called upon, by some greater power, to become false-prophets of the non-apocalypse. (Another gentleman has already started screaming -- via the Internet--that Julien is wrong and the correct date is June the third, while others, naturally point to June 6th--which will be 6/6/06--666, get it?)

These guys probably got their start with the first caveman who, on a cloudy morning some millions of years ago screamed, "Oh heavens, some giant bird has eaten the sun and it will never rise again and we'll all die." After much general panic, when the sun rose again, he was beaten to death and life returned to normal.

People, especially, it seems, fundamentalist and evangelical protestants, have been claiming that we are living in the "end of days" as set forth in the Book of Revelation probably since St. John of Patmos set the document out for the ink to dry.

Why this happens should be obvious. Imagine how empowering it would be to realize that you are the only person who has been given inside information about how the world is going to end and how people can survive the cataclysm. Now you can not only save those you care about, but you get to play god by choosing who lives and who dies. In addition, you will receive enormous amounts of adoration and if you are condemned by anyone as being a fool, your admirers will lash out at those who condemn you and praise you as a martyr. What a life!

Just in the past few years, how many times have we seen "great prophets" of doom appear? There were hordes of them surrounding Y2k, the avian flu, remember the suitcase nukes scares after 9/11? Religion has also seen hordes of them. Individuals who use numerology or "bible codes" to predict the dates of "raptures" or "second comings" or armageddon. (Even though they wouldn't know what har Megiddo was nor could they find it on a map.)

I'm not saying that, someday, one of them is not bound to be right. What I am saying is don't waste your life fretting about each new "prophet of doom."

Live joyfully and love boldly each day as if it were your last; because one day will be.

Other sources:

Jim Morrison's Ghost?


For those of you who are too young to remember, Jim Morrison was the charismatic lead singer of the enigmatic 1960's rock band, "The Doors." They are probably best known for such carnival-esque anthemms such as "Light My Fire," "L.A. Woman," and "Riders on the Storm."

Morrison became an enigmatic figure himself because of his aura of pure sexuality onstage and off; combined with the legends of his off-stage chemical-fueled antics. He upped the growing archetypal ante when in Miami, in 1969, he allegedly exposed himself during a concert. The trial which followed left him a pop culture legend. This was rapidly followed by his "alleged death" from a heroin overdose in France in 1971. The drug overdose death of a rock star was rapidly becoming a critical part of establishing the individual as rock-and-roll icon (see Hendrix and Joplin).

After Morrison's death, The Doors refused to go away. They continued to sell records and thanks to oldies radio and film directors who continued to feature Doors' songs, they may be more popular now than they were when Morrison was alive.

Enough back-story. Because it seems that at least one Rock-and Roll junkie is afraid that Morrison is back to enjoy the renewed attention. Rock-and-Roll historian Brett Meisner says that Morrison's ghost showed up in the background of a photo that Meisner had taken of himself in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France (see photo below):
You can imagine the flood of Doors' fans that have come to visit Meisner since word of this has gotten out. "Hey, Mister, can you touch my records? Can you tell Jim that we love him, dude?"

Meisner says that the results are worse than anything we could imagine:

A failed marriage and the loss of a young friend to a drug overdose were just a few of the tragedies that have befallen Brett Meisner since he rediscovered the photograph. “I’ve lost some high paying clients and nothing but bad luck has plagued me for the past few years.” A spiritual adviser and close friend recently told Meisner that they believe the photograph is part of a curse and that he needs to find a respectful way to part with the image and bring closure to both Brett and the spirit of Morrison. “Part of me wishes that I would have never stepped foot into the graveyard in the first place,” admits Meisner. “While I also know I’m partly to blame for talking about it in the first place. I should have kept it to myself and not let the media have a field day with something so special and private. Meisner is currently trying to find a private and reputable organization to donate the photos and negative. So far he has no takers.1

Gee, it makes me glad I'm not John Edwards. So, if Jim shows up in your photos; be smart and keep it to yourself.

Close Up of Morrison Image



20060522

Something Else to Blame Your Failures On


So, you're 35 years-old, single, still living at home, broke, unemployed, sleeping on the broken-down couch, and dating trailer-trash. Of course, thanks to the media and their steady line-up of pop-psychologists who are ready to tell you who to blame (other than yourself), you know that none of this is your fault. In the past, your life has been tragically destroyed by parents who abused (or didn't...Mr. Garrison), government mind control projects, aspertame, the greed-filled, evil, and soul-sucking corporations, abusive priests, second-hand smoke, subliminal messages, alien implants, fast food, war toys, psychiatric drugs, dust mites, bird flu, porn, illegal drugs, glue sniffing, poverty, pick an -ism, Republicans, Liberals, the teletubbies, well, you get the idea.

Now, according to Scotland On Sunday, you may have been handed an excuse that even old Rush Limbaugh can't refute; because, poverty may just be passed down genetically. Richard Gray writes:

SCOTTISH scientists have discovered a "poverty gene" which causes people from deprived areas to age rapidly, pass on health problems to the next generation and might even explain negative attitudes to employment. Research in Glasgow has established that deprivation can lead to an overactive immune system which quickly uses up the body's supply of spare cells needed to keep ageing at bay. It means a typical 55-year-old from the city's East End might have a "biological age" closer to 70. Centuries of natural selection among poor communities mean those with highly active immune systems are more likely to pass their genes on, condemning the next generation to grow old before their time. Most astonishing of all, it is suspected that a hyperactive immune system floods the brain with a cocktail of chemicals which suppress the natural desire for self-advancement.1

Naturally, poverty rights' advocates have siezed on the news of this discovery with the glee generally reserved for announcing that one has finally ended one's virginity. They are shouting from the moutaintops that this is proof that poverty is not the result of merely idle hands and that, what else, more governmental money should be sunk into providing health care for the poor to see that the "cycle of deprivation" is broken. On the other side of the spectrum, "fears have also been expressed that linking poverty to genetic traits could have the opposite effect by encouraging the view that the poor should be abandoned as a lost cause."1

Researchers point to a history of disparity in levels of quality of health care between the wealthy and the poor as a cause for this genetic distinction:

Initial findings from the new research have shown that those from poorer areas are hit with a 'double whammy' of unhealthy environmental factors and an inherited predisposition to poor health. Dr Chris Packard, a biochemist and principal investigator in the study, said: "We are looking at the idea that these people suffer from a chronic state of inflammation where their immune systems are constantly on a high state of alert.

"Compounds called cytokines, which talk to other parts of the immune system to prepare it for the invasion of bacteria, are far higher in people from deprived areas compared with the more affluent ones. This constant state of alert seems to be prematurely ageing the body beyond chronological age and so accelerates chronic diseases - they are, in a sense, old beyond their years."

Packard believes this overactive immune system has developed in poorer communities by being inherited over generations. He claims that children with more aggressive biological defences were better able to survive potentially deadly Victorian-era diseases such as measles and so were able to pass on this trait to their own children. This has led to large swathes of deprived communities who have lived for generations in the same area, now suffering from high levels of immune activity. While this can provide protection during childhood against diseases, it causes additional stress to the body in adulthood, which causes it to age far faster.1

The Cytokines also affect mood, so those who are negatively affected are also more likely to be depressed. Their overall mental outlook will be affected as well, in that they are likely to feel "trapped in poverty and unable to see any benefits in changing their lifestyle or extending their life."

One critical point that we must all be wary of. This discovery should lead no one to think of the poor nor the ill as being less than human. That is the road that leads to eugenics, a road that the Nazis tried to pave once before and their attempt to travel that path was disastrous to humanity.

  • Click HERE to read more about Poverty.
  • For some pictures that resemble the America in which I was raised, click HERE.

Is Life That Horrid in Iowa?


84 year-old Great-grandma tattoos "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" on her chest

According to the May 16th issue of The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, life in the great state of Iowa is no longer worth living, at least according to 84 year-old great granny, Mary Wohlford. You see, Granny Wohlford has had the words: "Do Not Recususcitate" tatooed on her chest. That's right. Tatooed. Permanently. With a needle. On her, *ahem,* "heaving" bosom.

Most women with tats, these days have dolphins, flowers, unicorns, or butterflies, bunnies, or, at worst, the ubiquitious "tramp stamp." But, "Do Not Recususcitate?" Wohlford is a retired nurse and, should she ever become incapacitated, she wants to be certain that everyone involved knows where she stands on the matters of her medical medical care. According to the Register:

She [Wohlford] said her decision to enter a Galena, Ill., tattoo parlor in February was the culmination of what she witnessed during her almost 30 years in nursing and during the Terri Schiavo controversy last year.1

The real question is, are the doctors going to pay attention to the tattoo? Actually the better question is, are the lawyers going to let tattoo artists start taking money out of their mouths? According to the Register:

Medical and legal experts expressed doubts that Wohlford's tattoo would prove binding, either in the emergency room or in the courts, but they give her credit for originality.

"I'll be darned," said Bob Cowie, a Decorah lawyer and chairman of the Iowa Bar Association's probate and trust law section. He added, "There are easier ways to do it than that," such as signing a living will or authorizing a medical power of attorney.1

Would the tattoo stop an emergency room doctor from firing up the paddles and bringing her back from across the veil?

"According to Iowa law, the answer is no," said Dr. Mark Purtle, who works in internal medicine at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.

He said Iowa law spells out when caregivers are permitted not to resuscitate a patient, and a tattoo wouldn't be good enough. He suggests a living will or an advanced directive, with a copy placed in the patient's medical chart, as well as discussing your wishes with trusted family members.

Lawyers agreed with Purtle.

"Just having that tattooed on your chest and doing nothing more, I'm not sure that's going to do you much good," said William Bump of Stuart, who has expertise in living wills and estate matters.

In addition to a living will, Cowie said, another approach is to authorize someone who can make decisions for you using what's called a medical power of attorney. If traveling, place a copy with your airplane tickets, he said.

Cowie said some clients have their living will or medical power of attorney form reduced in size and laminated, then carry it in a wallet.1

I always thought my grandmother would look cool with a tattoo. A winged and flaming cross would have been much more appropriate for her, though.

Fun and Games with the FBI


The Memory Hole has posted a file entitled the "FBI Beta Report" (Behaviorial and Ethical Trends Analysis) which is an internal FBI report detailing dozens cases in which FBI agents were dismissed for behavior "detrimental to the agency." from 1986 to 1999. According to the Associated Press, as archived byInformation Clearing House, this report was hushed up for three years because it kept delicate details about bureau misbehavior under wraps.

Those details included reports of "agents fired for egregious misconduct and crimes, including drug trafficking, attempted murder, theft, misuse of informants and consorting with prostitutes.1"

IFCH quoted Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who released the report, and he:

found that about one in 1,000 agents was dismissed for serious misconduct or criminal offenses by the FBI during the period examined, from 1986 to 1999. The average was between eight and nine per year.1

IFCH continued:

Although the numbers were small, the FBI's attempts to keep the report's disclosure from the public and Congress since its completion in June 2000 is raising questions among FBI critics about an attempt to avoid embarrassment. Grassley, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller that he was concerned about "a lack of response to the findings and recommendations, a general lack of support for the project and even efforts to prevent its completion." Grassley said the report "almost never saw the light of day." It was only provided to legislators in July 2003, months after it was requested, and was accompanied by a Justice Department letter urging that it be kept confidential.1

The specifics are frightening and sound more like a frat party than a government employee evaluation. According to the Beta report, agents were dismissed for:
  • Rape.
  • Reckless endangerment of family, witnesses, emotionally and physically abusive to family members, using Bureau weapon to shoot at family members.
  • Physical and/or sexual abuse of minors.
  • lying.
  • Stealing government property.
  • Drinking or drug use on duty, gambling addiction, and/or Alcohol Abuse.
  • Using government property to receive sports betting materials.
  • Selling drugs.
  • Calling Phone-sex hotlines while on-duty.
  • Public exposure, masturbation and, needless to say, lack of discretion.
  • Falsifying receipts for expense accounts and/or travel reimbursements.
  • Shoplifting.
  • Illegally disclosing sensitive information. (For instance telling your employer about your psychiatric history).
  • Obstruction of Justice.
  • Abusing the power of the position by engaging in illegal background checks of citizens.
  • Embezzlement.
  • Engaging in espionage against hostile foreign governments and smearing famous media personalities.
  • Manslaughter.

You can see that this report is either A: very disturbing reading; or B: More entertaining than the latest edition of The Weekly World News. Regardless of your POV, this is an important file to read as you need to remember that these agents are human and disturbingly fallible as are all of our law-makers and law enforcement representatives.

20060517

Baby Truman May Shed New Insight on Language Acquisition


Remember the 1988 Jim Carey film, "The Truman Show"? The entire idea of the film was that the protagonist's life was one enormous fiction that was being played out, unknown to him, in front of cameras, for the entertainment of millions of television viewers nationwide. The perfect reality show, covering the development of a human from infancy to adulthood.

According to The New Scientist (Which is frankly too expensive to subscribe to) as reported by Physorg.Com, researchers at MIT are recreating a shorter version of "The Truman Show," a kind of "The Real Life of Baby Truman," in hopes of getting a better understanding of how the process of humans acquire language and language skills. According to project leader Deb Roy of the MIT Media Lab, researchers are going to film a newborn baby 14 hours a day until the rugrat turns three years-old.

Ignoring the Orwellian overtones of all of this, this research project promises some positive outcomes:

The unique project seeks to pierce the mysteries of how babies acquire speech and may one day help treat language disorders and develop robots that can learn to speak all by themselves.1

Who is going to play "Truman"?:

Deb Roy of the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has so much faith in the project that he volunteered his own family as guinea pigs. Since his newborn son returned from hospital nine months ago, 14 microphones and 11 1-megapixel "fish-eye" video cameras, attached to the ceilings of each room, have been capturing a continuous stream of experiences, such as the mother using a melodious voice or frequently repeating a certain task, which the researchers hope to match to changes in the baby's linguistic performance.2

It is hoped that this experiment will bring new light to two old mysteries of human development. The first is the mystery of how children manage to learn the complexities of human language skills. The second would be to gain insight into why some people develop speech impediments.

Roy says that another good thing will come from the hours of digital data that his team records:

. . .Roy believes he is providing his child with a wonderful gift, the report says. "He might be the first person to have a memory that goes back to birth," he said.3

Just the kind of thing you want Mom to pull out when you bring a girl home. The hundreds of hours of digital video of you as an infant. Great.

The BBC has a more complete story HERE.