Friday, April 30, 2004

Blame Pharyngula

Another stupid book meme. This one is remotely interesting in its make-up. Lord of the Rings as number 1? (Well, it beats Atlas Shrugged.) "Barman" instead of "Batman"? Are the typos intentional? How'd anyone come up with a list like this? I did pretty poorly but I can't pretend to care that I've never read anything by Tom Clancy.

1) Lord Of The Rings - J R R Tolkien
2) To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
3) Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
4) Animal Farm - George Orwell

5) War And Peace - Leo Tolstoy
6) Riders - Jilly Cooper
7) The Stand - Stephen King
8) The Sicilian - Mario Puzo
9) Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
10) Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
11) Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
12) The Saga Of The Exiles - Julian May
13) Sandman:The Dolls House - Neil Gaiman
14) Vurt - Jeff Noon
15) A House For Mr Biswas - V S Naipul
16) Endymion - Dan Simmons
17) Space - Stephen Baxter
18) Hi-Fidelity - Nick Hornby
19) The Dark Is Rising - Susan Cooper (I'm not sure)
20) Valley Of The Dolls - Jaqueline Susann
21) The Allan Clark Diaries - Allan Clark
22) Charlotte's Web - Elwyn Brooks
23) The Scar - China Mieville
24) The Iliad - Homer
25) Peter Pan - J M Barrie
26) Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
27) Carry On Jeeves - P G Wodehouse
28) Porterhouse Blue - Tom Sharpe
29) Watership Down - Richard Adams
30) Tarka The Otter - Henry Williamson
31) Epitres - Voltaire
32) The Uplift War - David Brin
33) The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
34) Adolf Hitler, My Part In His Downfall - Spike Milligan
35) Jennifer Government - Max Barry
36) Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
37) Watchmen - Alan Moore

38) Clan Of The Cave Bear - Jean M Auel
39) The Merchant Of Venice - Shakespeare
40) Tess Of The D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
41) Consider Phlebus - Iain Banks
42) Parliaments - Thomas Carlyle
43) Tales To Ticklish To Tell - Berke Breathed
44) The Day Of The Triffids - John Wyndham
45) Green Eggs And Ham - Dr Suess
46) A Traitor To Memory - Elizabeth George
47) I'll Be Seeing You - Mary Higgins Clark
48) The Stone Raft - Jose Saramago
49) Lord Of The Flies - William Golding
50) The God Of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
51) Alias Grace - Margeret Atwood
52) Fantastic Mr Fox - Roald Dahl
53) The Hunt For Red October - Tom Clancy
54) Count Zero - William Gibson
55) Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintanence - Robert M Pirsig
56) Wilt - Tom Sharpe
57) The Silmarillion - J R R Tolkien (the first 20 pages)
58) Time Enough For Love - Robert Heinlein
59) The Love Knot - Charlotte Bingham
60) Female Parts - Dario Fo
61) Beowulf - Seamus Heaney
62) Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton

63) The Forge Of God - Greg Bear
64) Jack Holborn - Leon Garfield
65) Bruno's Dream - Iris Murdoch
66) Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets - J K Rowling
67) Praxis - Fay Weldon
68) The Monkey King - Timothy Mo
69) Stupid White Men - Michael Moore
70) 1984 - George Orwell
71) The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant - Stephen Donaldson
72) From Hell - Alan Moore
73) 101 Dalmations
74) The Time Machine - H G Wells
75) Runaway - Lucy Irvine
76) Huis Clos - Jean Paul Satre
77) Love & Rockets - Jamie Hernandez
78) The Death Of Grass - John Christopher
79) Naked Lunch - William Burroughs
80) Fevre Dream - George R R Martin
81) Books Of Blood - Clive Barker
82) Antigone - Sophocles

83) Wealth Of Nations - Adam Smith (excerpts only)
84) The Colour Of Magic - Terry Pratchett (Actually, I'm not sure. All the Diskworld books run together.)
85) Cry Wolf - Wilbur Smith
86) Barman Year One - Frank Miller
87) The Tale Of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter
88) Point Of Origin - Patricia Cornwell
89) Jackdaws - Ken Follet
90) Idoru - William Gibson
91) The Code Of The Woosters - P G Wodehouse
92) Shardik - Richard Adams
93) Helliconia - Brian Aldiss
94) Macbeth - Shakespeare95) Shattered - Dick Francis
96) Disgrace - J M Coetzee
97) Ink Paintings - Gao Xingjian
98) The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
99) The Simple Art Of Murder - Raymond Chandler
100) Aenid - Virgil
Test of Time

A colleague of mine has students record their reactions towards reading assignments in Intro. to Lit. She was laughing/crying about one journal in particular.

"Just because something has stood the test of time doesn't mean it's good" one student wrote about Oedipus (apparently he doesn't believe anything written in the B.C. should be read in the A.D. [except for the O.T.] if you get my drift). "This is the section I've been dreading since I saw the syllabus" he wrote about Dickinson. Well, he's honest.

Man, now I'm going to assign journals too.

My Intro. to Lit. classes don't believe me when I tell them about this (or the Faulkner Festival).
Nazi Guard?

I thought this was over a while ago but I suppose it's a big enough matter to keep up.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

More Snakeheads

Remember the Glo-Fish? The engineered zebra fish that glow in the dark? It's not that I think playing God is wrong, just when idiots dump their failed creations in the closest lake. (Fish owners are responsible for more destruction of native species than dog and cat owners combined.)
Mars Might Be Off

If we can have second thoughts about going to Mars, why didn't we for Iraq?

Beyond redneck. This must appeal to the sort of person who puts live mice in a blender.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Reading List

I'm continuing a meme I found on a couple of other blogs. You're supposed to copy it, highlight the works you've read, and encourage others to do the same.

Achebe, Chinua - Things Fall Apart
Agee, James - A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James - Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
Brontë, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Brontë, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales

Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph - Heart of Darkness

Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Dante - Inferno

de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote (Not all of it)
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe (Moll Flanders! Moll Flanders!)
Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore - An American Tragedy (Sister Carrie! Sister Carrie!)
Dumas, Alexandre - The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George - The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man

Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays
Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox - The Good Soldier

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Golding, William - Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph - Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms (Sun Also Rises! Sun Also Rises!)
Homer - The Iliad
Homer - The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor - The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik - A Doll's House

James, Henry - The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry - The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Bloomy! Bloomy!)
Kafka, Franz - The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine Hong - The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
London, Jack - The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain (Death in Venice!)
Marquez, Gabriel García - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman - Moby Dick

Miller, Arthur - The Crucible (Death of a Salesman!)
Morrison, Toni - Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales (All of Poe's fiction, smug, smug)
Proust, Marcel - Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas - The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond - Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry - Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
Shakespeare, William - Macbeth
Shakespeare, William - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William - Romeo and Juliet
(All the plays, double smug)
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon - Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles - Antigone
Sophocles - Oedipus Rex

Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath (Mice and Men!)
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William - Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire - Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five

Walker, Alice - The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora - Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass (Not all of it)
Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard - Native Son

I spent my life reading the wrong stuff. I never finished several on the list but still marked them (the beginning of the list had me scared).

To finish an M.A. at UC, students need to pass a three day Lit. test based on a reading list prepared by the English Department. I was slowly plodding through my list of 90 books when in January I learned that they'd made a mistake. Five months before the test, I got a new list of 60 books including Ulysses and Don Quixote. None of the works were the same on the two lists--I worked out that I needed to read 193 pages a day to finish, on top of going to school full-time and working two part-time jobs.

Fortunately, UC's Faculty union had a strike that spring, pushing the test back another week. I didn't come close to finishing the list but I got through enough to pass. Other students didn't learn about the new list until even later than me, which, from what I heard, resulted in a record number of failures. (Failing the exam meant waiting an entire year to retake it.) How I love UC!
Iraq/Vietnam Stat

I'd like to get this confirmed but according to the latest issue of Newsweek, during the first three years of combat in Vietnam, 1962-64, the number of U.S. casualties were 392 (from 1956-61, it was 25).

Maybe they calculated the numbers in an underhanded way but in any case it doesn't exactly make Iraq seem rosy.
Son Divorcing Murderer Father

I'm glad you're trying to take as active as role in your son's life but maybe you might have thought a little bit before you killed his mom.
Scalia Loves Cheney

Who would have thunk it?
Paging Bob Evans

I'm not complaining but who from Bob Evans has been stopping by here lately? Just curious--not trying to out anyone.

Monday, April 26, 2004

From the Science Section

This was in Yahoo's science section. An expedition to Atlantis was in the "Oddly Enough" section. Seriously.
Exploding Cannon Balls

Cecil Adams answers a question that I initially thought idiotic.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Goodbye Hawaii

Remember a few years back, anti-tax groups protested a governmental study of a species of snake in Guam? (No, then Google for it.) The reason for the study was to prevent the snakes from reaching Hawaii and devastating the bird and other native creatures there. Sadly, maybe it was a waste of money.
Are We Descendants of Rocking-Eating Martians?

This could be as weird as being made of mud and ribs.
What's In a Hotdog

Here's a little information from William Poundstone's Biggest Secrets. Surprisingly, the true make-up of a hotdog isn't as bad as you might think.

Break-down of a hotdog:

Approximately 45-55% water
26% fat (turkey and pork)
13% protein (even cheap dogfood is higher)
2-3% salt
2% sugar (Oscar Meyer) no governmental limit to percentage of sugar allowed
up to 3.5% filler ("cereal, starch, and vegetable protein")

The government demands that meat be "skeletal meat" instead of "meat by-products"

Skeletal meat is basically the part of an animal that a typical person would consider "meat."
Meat by-products can be the proverbial lips and assholes but more often hearts, tongues, intestinal tract, etc.

Meat by-products can be used in hotdogs but must be specifically labeled.

The difference between liverwurst and braunschweiger is that while both are chiefly made of pigs' liver, braunschweiger is less likely to include snouts. Poundstone notes that Farmer John Liverwurst is made with smoked pig liver, snouts, and spices.

Oscar Meyer Head Cheese is made from snouts, tongues, hearts, boiled skins, sugar water, and vinegar.

Carmelita Pork Chorizo's chief ingredient is "pork salivary glands," followed by lymph nodes, fat, cheeks, tongues, and unnamed parts of the pig. But, hey, no fillers.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Long Ramble

One of my students is writing her research paper on the significance of the music of Stevie Wonder. I was skeptical at first but her rough draft included lyrics of his songs that I never dreamed existed. I can't tell how they sound but they had a sense of substance far beyond any of his pop love songs. I mentioned to her that Ebony and Ivory was just included in the 50 worst rock songs. She blamed Paul.

This transitions to:

Just read that Paul is doing voice-overs for cartoons in The Music and Animation Collection. One of the cartoons apparently features a
"vegan=good" message, prompting an interviewer to remark to Paul: "Hunters won't be buying this for the kids." Paul replies, "But hunters' wives will, to get the guys to stop it."

No matter where you stand on meat (I usually do in front of the fridge), hunting, or whatever else might apply, don't you have to admit that's the most vapid statement he could make? (Okay, maybe not but it's up there.)

Not only does Paul assume that all hunters are married men (which is probably not far off) but that their wives oppose it. Guess when you get royalty checks from half a dozen ad campaigns, you don't have consider that hunting might put food on the table. Sure, Paul's said stupider things but that's the first one I saw today.

Yes, she was right. Paul, not Stevie, was to blame.
Class of Three

Today was the grammar test. Ten percent of the final grade. Almost laughably simple. Three out of eight students showed up (one came in late so the completion rate rose to 50% but still. . .)

I don't know how many times I had to get up last night. My one-year old must have found an old piece of cat food because his stomach was constantly erupting. I've been doing laundry all day but still have two puke-drenched loads to go. The smell won't wash clean of my hair and I showed up for class.

Guess I shouldn't complain. Doesn't take any more effort to write an "F" than it does an "A."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

My Sitcom Moment

Cecil Adams comments on the sitcom-motif of hitting your head and getting amnesia. Although he's skeptical of it, something along these lines did happen to me.

I think it was during my sophomore year of high school (and two decades of drinking doesn't exactly help that blow to the head), I was goofing around when I should have been doing homework. After leaning back on the hind legs of my chair, I started tossing a combination lock towards the ceiling, seeing how close I could get without hitting it. It was a big lock, bigger than a Master lock, and since I wasn't allowed to use it on my school locker, I had no other use for it but to throw it at the ceiling.

After 30 or 40 times of this, my mom called me for some reason. I turned my head, realized I shouldn't have, then looked back up to see the lock about a quarter-inch from my head. It didn't knock me out but it hurt like hell and raised a lump and a bruise.

The next day at school I realized that my watch was off. It was one of those incredibly dorky digital watches of the 80s that marked the day as well as time. It was a Monday but the watch said Wednesday. I reset it and didn't think much of it. After a few dozen weird incidents, at the end of the day I realized that it really was Wednesday and that I'd just lost 48 hours.

When I knew what had happened, my memories began slowly oozing back. Oddly enough, I never forgot getting hit by the lock, just what had happened the two days before it. I didn't remember like you do when you realize "Shit! It's the wife's birthday!" but slowly, bit by bit. I've never experienced any sort of memory loss or recollection like it before or since.

It wasn't really like a sitcom. I didn't forget my name or anything like that but it's a good reminder against incurring brain damage. If I'd really been trained as a spy or witnessed aliens or Satanic worship, those memories never resurfaced. . . yet.
My Dog vs. the World

Initially I'd meant for this to be a light post. It turned somewhat sobering.

About three years ago, I stopped buying the expensive premium dogfood for my dog because he ate so many baby leftovers that I figured any nutrition the cheap stuff lacks, he'll more than make up for. (So far today, he's had half a cheese omelet that my daughter didn't eat, a few handfuls of Ramen noodles, and a little bit of leftover cereal and milk.)

I got to wondering how well he ate compared to people in third world nations. Last week during a field trip to the NKU library, I ran across some reference books that gave the data. Now I wish I hadn't seen it:

Highest Average Caloric Intake (1991 stats)

1. Libya - 3,812
2. Ireland - 3,699

6. U.S. - 3,641

Lowest (1991 stats)

10. Afghanistan - 1,896
9. Mali - 1,893
8. Mozambique - 1,881
7. Guinea - 1,880
6. Bangladesh - 1,837
5. Ethiopia - 1,793
4. Uganda - 1,784
3. Ghana - 1,769
2. Maldives - 1,765
1. Chad - 1,762

Highest Average Caloric Intake (1997 stats)

1. Ireland - 3,951
2. Belgium - 3,925

6. U.S. - 3,642

Lowest (1997 stats)

10. Rwanda - 1,915
9. Sierra Leone - 1,899
8. Angola - 1,880
7. Somalia - 1,873
6. Central African Republic - 1,847
5. Mozambique - 1,804
4. Afghanistan -1,764
3. Comoros - 1,760
2. Chad - 1,733
1. Ethiopia - 1,699

Highest Daily Grams of Protein (recommended 65 g/day) (1997 stats)

1. Iceland - 127.9
2. Ireland - 119.7

5. U.S. - 111.1

Lowest Daily Grams of Protein
(recommended 65 g/day) (1997 stats)

10. Angola - 44.3
9. Ghana - 43.8
8. Bangladesh - 43.6
7. Guinea-Bissau - 43.4
6. Nigeria - 42.9
5. Sierra Leone - 39.9
4. Comoros - 38.3
3. Liberia - 37.1
2. Zaire (Congo) - 33.7
1. Mozambique - 30.3

My Dog's Intake Yesterday

3 cups of Dad's cheapest brand of dogfood - 897 (299/cup) 16% protein

Equivalent of 2 pieces of Red Baron pizza - 250 (usually 170/slice but most cheese and pepperoni eaten off top; estimated very little protein)

3 generic dog biscuits - 100 (calories not listed but same general ingredients as Dad's) 15% protein

A few M&Ms - 50 (estimate based on 480 calories/bag)

1/4 cup of shredded cheese (thrown from high chair) 100 calories, 7 grams of protein

Total - 1,397

He's less than a Snickers bar away from beating the Ethiopians and he's only 40 some pounds (we can diet him down to 35 to meet condo bylaws). Pound for pound, he's probably got all of Africa beat. I guess that's more ammo about "you're lucky to be an American" but it just gets me depressed.

And I do have to wonder, after all my sainted grandma's stories about suffering in Dublin, how did the Irish get to the top of the list? (Lite beer hasn't made it to Eire?)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Stage Hypnosis

William Poundstone in Biggest Secrets examined hypnotist/comedians, people like Pat Collins who supposedly can convince women that their breasts expanded and men that their penis fell off. Sounds medically sound to me.

Some people believe all hypnotism is fake. Many others believe in clinical hypnosis but think the stuff on stage is a joke. Poundstone looked into manuals and professional literature for stage hypnotists (I would have never thought such stuff existed) and found that while the authors seemed to believe what they were doing was real, they repeatedly reveal that, at the very least, it isn't reliable.

Many hypnotists use their friends as volunteers in the audience ("I've never seen this gentleman before in my life") but many look for extroverts and people who don't want to disappoint or let others down. (Covington noted that while he doubted a stage hypnotist was legit, he wouldn't want to go on stage and ruin his act. Apparently, this is what keeps them in business.)

Usually hypnotists start their acts by "mass hypnotizing" the entire audience. Some people refuse to play along at all. They won't wind up on stage. Others respond half-heartedly. The hypnotist looks for those who enthusiastically follow directions with a "look at me!" attitude. (Ralph Nader would be perfect.)

Poundstone quotes Ormond McGills' Encyclopedia of Genuine Stage Hypnotism: "Whenever a laugh comes in your show for no apparent reason, be on your guard that someone is faking, and spot that trouble-maker as soon as possible." In other words, look out for the smart ass who goes on stage and flips you off when your back is turned. If stage hypnotism really was genuine, this wouldn't seem to be possible.

McGill also advises about using chloroform to "greatly assist you in hypnotizing the most stubborn cases." Other hypnotists use itching powder or other chemicals. Hypnotist Bill Larson favored the "bulldog method" in which you squeeze the subjects' carotid arteries to cause them to go limp. This method is favored by rapists with medical know-how.

There are other tricks involving lighters and sledge hammers that are also used by cult leaders to fool their subjects into thinking they have mystical powers. I guess I'd rather have someone use their knowledge for a fake hypnosis act than to start a money-grubbing cult.
100 World Trials

Just finished Edward W. Knappman's Great World Trials which highlights 100 of the most significant court cases. There's a companion book which features American trials which I'd like to see but this kept me busy a while. Are there any trials listed here that aren't really significant or any that Knappman left out? (The cases that occurred to me turned out never to have been settled in a court room.) Some might argue but I'd have to say that no trial had a greater overall impact than J. Christ v. P. Pilate (A.D. 33).

Alcibiades Trial (415 B.C.) Athenian sentenced to death amid the struggle with Sparta
Socrates Trials (399 B.C.)
Gaius Verres Trial (70 B.C.) Roman governor of Sicily charged with misrule by Cicero
Jesus of Nazareth Trial (A.D. 33)

Joan of Arc Trial (1431)
Martin Luther Trial (1521)
Thomas More Trial (1535)
Michael Servetus Trial (1553) Heretic caught in conflict between John Calvin and Catholicism
Martin Guerre Trials (1560) See the movie
Mary, Queen of Scots Trial (1586)
Giordano Bruno Trials (1592, 1600)

Walter Raleigh Trials (1603, 1618)
Gunpowder Plot Trial (1606)
Galileo Trial (1633)
Charles I Trial (1649)
John Byng Court-Martial (1756-57) British admiral made a scapegoat and killed for military loss
Bounty Mutineers Court-Martial (1792)
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette Trials (1792, 1793)
Charlotte Corday Trial (1793)

Daniel M'Naghten Trial (1843) Landmark case for insanity pleas
Daniel O'Connell Trial (1844) England railroads Irish leader of independence through peace; hello IRA
William Kirwan Trial (1852) Irish murder case in which forensic medicine comes to forefront; hello CSI
Whistler v. Ruskin (1878) artist sues sexless freak critic for libel
Ned Kelly Trial (1880)
Alexander II's Assassin's Trial (1881)
Adelaide Bartlett Trial (1889) British wife accused of poisoning her husband
Florence Maybrick Trial (1889) Another wife accused of poisoning husband; sparked major legal reform
O'Shea v. Parnell and O'Shea (1890) Messy Irish divorce in British courts
William Gordon-Cumming v. Stanley Wilson, Berkeley Levett, and Others (1891) Century before Clinton/Starr, the Prince of Wales is brought to give testimony in a civil suit
Thomas Neill Cream Trial (1892) Serial blackmailer/incompetent abortionist/killer sentenced to death in England; last words "I am Jack the—," a liar to the end; he was serving time in Joliet while Jack was killing in Whitechapel
Alfred Dreyfus Trials (1894, 1899)
Oscar Wilde Trials (1895)
Emile Zola Trial (1898) French writer wrongfully convicted of slander for defending Dreyfus

Stinie Morrison Trial (1911) petty criminal commits senseless perjury on the witness stand; (probably) convicted of murder
Titanic Inquiry (1912)
Henriette Caillaux Trial (1914) French woman charged with killing editor who wronged her husband
Archduke Franz Ferdinand's Assassins Trial (1914)
Edith Cavell Trial (1915) English nurse executed by Germans during WWI
Roger Casement Trial (1916) Irish separatist accused of plotting with Germans
Mata Hari Trial (1917)
Rosa Luxemburg's Assassins Trial (1919) Germans half-ass prosecution against Lenin-hating socialist activist
Mohandas Gandhi Trial (1922)
Herbert Armstrong Trial (1922) first English solicitor hung for murder

Hitler's "Beer Hall" Putsch Trial (1924)
Ysuyoshi Inukai's Assassin Trial (1933) Japanese premier assassinated; paves way for military rule
Reichstag Fire Trial (1933)
Moscow Purge Trials (1936-38)
Leon Trotsky's Assassin Trial (1940-43)
Anti-Hitler Conspirators Trial (1944)
Henri Philippe Petain and Pierre Laval Trial (1945-46)
Vidkun Quisling Trial (1945)
William Joyce Trial (1945) Lord Haw-Haw was never legally an English citizen
Nuremburg Trial (1945-46)
Tokyo War Crimes Trial (1946-48)

Mohandas Gandhi's Assassins Trial (1948)
Victor Kravchenko Trial (1949) Soviet defector accused of libel for writing tell-all book about U.S.S.R.
Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty Trial (1949) Soviets make martyr of Hungarian cardinal
Jomo Kenyatta Trial (1952-53) British rig trials of Kenyans for Mau Mau uprising
Fidel Castro Trial (1953) Smooth move Batista
Milovan Djilas Trial (1956) Yugoslavian communists charge former revolutionist with slander
Cuban Revolutionary Tribunals (1959)
Steven Truscott Trial (1959) 14-year old sentenced to death; legal debate and reform follow
Francis Gary Powers Trial (1960)
Portland Naval Spy Ring Trial (1961) British Cold War espionage
Adolf Eichmann Trial (1961)
Obafemi Awolowo Trial (1962) charges against Nigerian chief shake the nation
De Gaulle Assassination Conspirators Trial (1963)
Nelson Mandela Trial (1963-64) Modern version of the trials of Socrates and Jesus
Regis Debray Trial (1967) Bolivia charges Debray with "exporting" Cuban communism; gaining sympathy for his cause
Baader-Meinhof Trial (1975-77) West Germany charges Marxist terrorists string of crimes, prompting more terrorism including assassination of a federal prosecutor
Guildford Four Trial (1975) IRA bombing brings out British version of Patriot Act; all four were cleared in 1993 (maybe we'll clear out Gitmo by 2019)
Vaclav Havel Trials (1977-89) Communist leadership in Czechoslovakia charge future president with sedition
Anatoly Schcharansky and Alexandr Ginzburg Trials (1978) Russian attempt to intimidate Jewish and human rights activists

Jiang Quing and the Gang of Four Trial (1980)
Isabel Peron Trial (1981) Argentina military takes power from Peronists by attacking former president
Paul Wakwaro Ekai Trial (1981) Murder trial of the killer of Born Free writer
Mehmet Ali Agca Trials (1981, 1985-86) Would-be assassin of Pope John Paul II
Red Brigades Trial (1982-83)
Lindy and Michael Chamberlain Trial (1982) "The dingo has got my baby!"
Argentina's "Dirty War" Trial (1985)
Indira Gandhi's Assassins Trial (1985-86)
Sharpeville Six Trial (1985) Apartheid tactics brought international notice to six scapegoats
Sicilian Mafiosi Trial (1986-87)
Peter Wright (Spycatcher) Trials (1986-88) British attempt to censor book written by former spy
Jean-Bedel Bokassa Trial (1986-87) Former president of Central African Republic charged with all manners of crimes against humanity including eating his subjects
John Demjanjuk Trial (1987) Ivan the Terrible?
Klaus Barbie Trial (1987)
Beirut Hijacking Trial (1988-89)
Carl Gustav Christer Pettersson Trial (1989) First Swedish political assassination since 1792
Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu Trial (1989)

South African Police Death Squads Libel Trial (1991) Libel suit forces South Africa to admit to existence of death squads
Tiananmen Square Dissidents Trial (1991)
David Milgaard Hearing (1992) Canadian law allows for release of convicted killer
Sue Rodriguez Appeal (1993) Canadian case over assisted suicide laws
Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo Trials (1993, 1995) Canadian serial killer/rapist case sparks legal reforms
Robert Thompson and Jon Venables Trial (1993) Two pre-teens in England murder a three year old
Rosemary West Trial (1995) British female serial killer
Navy Seaman Marcus D. Gill, Marine Pfc. Roderico Harp, and Marine Pfc. Kendrick M. Ledet Trial (1995-96) U.S. servicemen rape 12-year old girl in Okinawa
Lori Bereson Trial (1996) American woman sentenced to life imprisonment in possibly rigged Peruvian court
Yigal Amir Trial (1996) Assassin of Yitzhak Rabin

Monday, April 19, 2004

Words Fail Me

I remember reading about this but I don't think I ever sat down and listened to it. Is Donald Duck racist? I have Roger Rabbit on DVD and it never jumped out at me. It does make me have second thoughts about the Cincinnati cop accused of saying something similar.
Why We Hate Fingernails on Chalkboards

I found this looking for stuff on stage hypnosism. Sounds good but is without any real proof.
Government and Military Part MMXXI

A long story of the government's stonewalling over the death of a pilot.
Imagined Worlds

I've been meaning to post on Freeman Dyson's book Imagined Worlds for over a week. It's based on a series of lectures he delivered at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I meant to list a few of the best parts but I'd have to copy the entire book. As I mentioned in Covington's blog, Dyson wrote a few passages that obliterated all my beliefs about nuclear power.

Just a few of his points:

1. Instead of looking at science and technology as neutral or moralless, Dyson sees it as either good or evil. Good if it is used to improve the welfare of the poor. Evil if it just becomes a toy for the rich. He noted that motorcycles provided mobility for the lower classes while nuclear (fission) power, for all it's promise, basically became a plaything of power companies and politicians. (Religion can be put to the same test: feeding the poor=good; brainwashing them=evil.)

2. Technology reaches its full potential if it is allowed to fail. Nuclear power based on fission was propped up by governmental contracts to the point that it became inoperable (sadly, fusion looks to be on the same road). During the turn of the last century, air travel followed two designs, the airplane (modeled somewhat after motorcycles) and the airship (modeled directly after ocean liners). A while back I posted about the book The Wrong Stuff, the history of dead-ends in airplane design. Dyson believes these were essential. Airplane design followed a Darwinian development, some working, most failing, until what was left was successful. Airships were heavily supported by various governments.

In England, Lord Thompson, the socialist Secretary of State, wanted to build giant air ships to demonstrate the superiority of the Commonwealth, of socialism, and air ships themselves. Under his management, a huge blimp was designed to travel from London to India. Hours after it lifted off, in 1930, it crashed, killing all but six of its passengers (including Thompson). England gave up on air ships; unfortunately the Germans kept it up for a few more years.

The English tried to do the same thing with large-scale commercial air travel after WWII. Their government pushed the English Comet into production years before Boeing's 707. Unfortunately the Comet's windows were not designed to take the change in air pressure in a trans-Atlantic flight so the planes burst apart, killing everyone on board. Five years later, after slow progress, Boeing produced the 707 and the U.S. came to dominate air travel, not because of "Yankee know-how" but because Boeing was more cautious and slow-moving than the British.

2. Contrary to what Hollywood has told us, nuclear bombs will not stop a large asteroid with a collision course with earth. Machines known as mass-drivers could stop them (if we could deliver them to the asteroid on time). Dyson states that if we detect a large asteroid coming towards the earth, scheduled to hit in two years, there is really nothing we could do but stockpile food and supplies so that the survivors won't slip into a new Dark Age. (He also has a lot of information on the advances of astronomy so the outlook isn't completely grim.)

3. Scientists have detected genes that regulate the development of eyes in both mice and fruit flies. When a fly "eye" gene is implanted in various parts of a developing fly, the mature fly will grow eyes all over its body. As an experiment, scientists implanted a mouse "eye" gene in the knee of a fly. It grew an eye. A fly eye. Mammal and insect eyes are completely different so apparently the genes simply told the body "grow an eye," with all directions in other genes. Genes are apparently more abstract than anyone had guessed.

4. Dyson looks at the future ten years from now, 100 years, 1000, 10,000, 100,000, and 1,000,000. His predictions are general but are based on scientific knowledge of our past.

Allow the universe won't change, the way we experience it will.

When mankind started out as simple hunter-scavengers, we lived in a Carroll universe (named after Lewis Carroll and opposed to Newtonian or Einsteinian universes.) At this stage, both time and space are relative. You can travel as far as you can and never reach "the limits." Likewise, time is centered around your person. There is no way to even test the limitations of time.

In Newtonian universes, time is absolute but space is relative. With ships and other vehicles, we could travel around the world, making the distance between any two points on the globe relative. When we invented the telegraph and other means of communication, time became relative as well.

If we keep advancing, we will move back to a Carroll universe. Neither our abilities to communicate and travel will be able to reach the "limits." There will be places completely out of reach, barring an immortal lifespan. Perhaps some future technology will change this but it looks like our personal universes will re-align with our distant ancestors.

5. I always heard that the universe either has enough mass that it will collapse at some future date into the Big Crunch or will continue to expand forever. Neither future is rosy. Obviously no one wants to collapse into a subatomic super-dense geometric point but expanding forever means the distances between galaxies will increase until they'll be realistically out of reach. Dyson provides a third possibility: there might be just enough mass for the universe to slow its expansion and stop. If that happens, we'll still be able to keep in touch with friends in neighboring galaxies.

6. "Software for designing babies is still a small cloud on a distant horizon." Dyson touches on the advances that would allow people to design their own dogs and cats. What will we do if someone wants to "make" a dog with three heads, modeled after Cerebus? We'll have to make some decision before people begin designing their own babies.

There's an incredible much more in a fairly short book. I can't justify keeping it from the library any longer so it should be available tomorrow. It's much better than my jumbled rambles might make it seem.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Duke Cuts 8:00 classes

I have no idea of what Duke's parking situation is like but for local colleges, this would be hell. Spaces around NKU and UC dry up about 10 and stay packed until late afternoon.

I sympathize with older students but students under 25 who can't drag themselves to early classes (that they want to pass) shouldn't be in college.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Major Time Waster

Can the Borg's Cube beat the Death Star?

Dracula vs. Buffy?

Merlin vs. Gandalf?

Moses vs. Yoda?

Scooby Doo and Mystery Inc. vs. the Cenobites of Hellraiser?

Captain Kirk vs. the Planet of the Apes?

Tigger vs. Hobbes?

Could Shaggy outeat Jughead?

The Crocodile Hunter vs. Godzilla?

Al Bundy vs. Homer (Bullshit!)?

Could the hotel from the Shining kill the Brady Bunch before the house from Amityville Horror?

And a bunch of others. Some are just plain wrong but overall it's fun.
Powell Hates Cheney

I always wanted to like Powell and hope this is true. However, even if it is, he still did something he knew was morally unjust.
Eight Foot Four and Growing

The guy's knees must be giving him hell. While the reptilian part of my brain wants him to grow another couple inches to break the record, my rational mind hopes doctors can help him.
Sorority Stereotypes Upheld

On the wave of the story of the sorority girl who urged her sisters to lie about tattoos and illness while giving blood, a new book finds sorority stereotypes are true. My sister went to Vanderbilt, a fairly tough school to get in. However, many girls dropped out and transferred to different colleges when they didn't get in the sorority they wanted.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Snopes to the Rescue

Remember the picture of the Marine with the two Iraqi kids that was making the rounds a week ago? Snopes has investigated and found the Marine named on the sign really exists but that the message may have been altered.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Crash Asteroids Against Earth

Great program for sadists. Enter data about an asteroid and slam it into the earth. No graphics but interesting details. A future version might show the destruction (and let you hit individual cities) but it's fun for now.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Top 20th Century Novels in English

Remember the Modern Library's 100 Best Novel list? I just learned that shortly after it was published, a second list by Radcliffe Publishing was produced.

The Readers' List is too embarrassing to mention (ironically the fact that enough people voted for Ayn Rand makes me have Randian thoughts towards the world) but the Radcliffe List isn't an improvement. I enjoy The Great Gatsby far more than Ulysses but I don't think there's any doubt that Joyce was a greater writer. It's sad but when people say "I just couldn't finish Ulysses," they think that something was missing from the book, instead of something missing from them.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Dear Santa

Please bring me an ultimate electric chair. I'll provide the clients.

If I win the lottery, I'd buy 50 attack alligators at $8,900 a pop.
Robot Laws

Does anybody care about Asimov's Robotic Laws? Well, if you do, the bottom of this page has some interesting scenarios.
Howard's End

I know a few million other hacks will use that line but I couldn't resist.
Think I'll Postpone that Honduran Vacation

Ten human heads discovered. Cannibalism alleged. Great hotel rates available.
41-Pound Cat

I thought my cat was huge at 19 pounds but this guy is twice that. (I could repost the giant Snopes cats but you know where to go.)

Friday, April 09, 2004

Serial Strip Search Scammer Strikes Again

Would the idiots who fall for this have gone through with their searches if the victims had been men?

Okay, that's awkwardly worded but this nut doesn't have an easy handle.
So Very Cold

Via Snopes new scam news, man cashes in with fake cancer-ridden son.
Australia to be Up-Over

Is Earth's magnetic field reversing? Does anyone have Ian McKellen's whereabouts?
Evil Heathen Lies!

How dare so-called scientists question the proven fact that snakes lost their legs because one put the moves on Eve!
Let a Woman Wash her Feet and Next Thing You Know, She'll be Pope

My goodness, what a long and confusing headline. This should clear things up.

I'd expect this in the Mideast but Atlanta? Looks like Ted's gonna do a few more Polish jokes.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Text Book Costs

I quit assigning more than one book for classes because they cost so damn much. How tough would it be to self-publish cheap text books and sell them for a fraction of the competition?
Oh That Leno

"Ralph Nader has called for President Bush to be impeached for deceiving the American people about the war in Iraq. Ralph Nader wants Bush impeached? Ralph Nader got him elected in the first place."

Council to Ban Racial Insults?

As much as I'd like to see some of these idiots contribute a little more to the city coffers, would this ban Jeff Foxworthy Redneck jokes? (Not that I wouldn't like to see Foxworthy banned for life.)

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

New From Snopes

A car cutting off a cat's head and a probably fake giant spider.
How Many of Them Have Soft Contacts?

Let me get into typical Cincinnati spirit--cough, cough--Why, in my day we didn't need Eye Ball Jewelry, we put in hard contacts and we loved them. I have bloody ragged lines in my eyes from shoving in hard contacts when I'm in a hurry but you don't see my putting a gold heart in there. No, bloody ragged lines in the eye are a sign of being a hard worker and good, patriotic American.

Thank you.
The Creationist's Version Has No Buttons

Time line of life on Earth.
I've Got the Gun to My Forehead

The only reason I haven't pulled the trigger is that I wouldn't get to see the new shows anyway.
Irony Defined

Next time I teach Intro. to Lit. and need to define Irony, I'll just hand out a copy of this.
Wife Praises Mel

While I had all three kids and the broken toilet yesterday, my wife went with her mother to see Passion. She said it was fantastic but couldn't say anything good about it that you wouldn't see in a snuff film.

Maybe I'm lucky and she's just having an affair.
Tow Truck in the Toilet

I spent nearly six hours trying to unplug one of our toilets which I assumed was from my wife or step-daughter using three or four rolls of t.p. per flush. Finally I started filling the garbage can with hot water from the bath tub and dumping it. Somehow this kicked back the toy tow truck that my one-year old had dropped in it.

A couple years ago my wife's niece tried to have a Kermit the Frog plush doll swim in the back toilet. It's still not right.

Monday, April 05, 2004

The Real Jackson

A few of you saw this before but here's the wonder of not having unnecessary surgery. Yipes!
Shark Attacks

World statistics on shark attacks. Click on the number one nation for shark attacks in the world. Then click on the number one state. Volusia County. A few miles south of my parents' house.
"This'll be fun!"

When I feel bad about my life, I always find someone who is even bigger a loser.
"Exposing Jewish Lies"

No, seriously, it's not anti-Semitic. Not at all. You're missing the point.

Although I was surprised that Aramaic is still spoken in parts of Syria.
The Wrong Stuff?

I don't usually check out books on aviation but this caught my attention. The Wrong Stuff? Attempts at Flight Before [& After] the Wright Brothers.

I can't pass up a book with brackets in the title.

It starts out with Da Vinci's Batman suit and ends with a NASA prototype with adjustable wings. Of course, the Spruce Goose gets a big mention.

Some of the planes were just too far ahead of their time. A Romanian made a plane with jet engines in 1910. Unfortunately he couldn't generate enough power or I'd be writing this on the moon.

The Convair X-6 would have been a scary plane. With the advent of nuclear subs, the Air Force began work on a nuclear plane. Not one that dropped nukes, one that flew by an atomic reactor. It could have worked but the possibility of a crash was too risky. A terrorist on the X-6 could take out not just a building but a whole city.

The greatest things were the flying cars. Almost immediately after the Wright Brothers, inventors tried to make planes that would be personal everyday vehicles. Many of them flew (including a flying Jeep) but were too expensive and/or dangerous to mass produce.

The best of these was the Goodyear Inflatoplane. Like an inflatable life raft, it could be stored in a small area, then when you pulled a cord, it blew up into a working plane with a wingspan of 22 feet. It could reach speeds of 72 mph and could fly six hours straight before refueling. Eventually Goodyear scrapped the program and went with blimps but I wish they'd kept trying.

Imagine all the destruction of wildlife (and taxpayers' dollars) that highways cause. With a flying rubber plane, like Doc said in Back to the Future, we don't need roads. And since they were made of rubber, they were essentially flying airbags. Slamming one into a building would be like bouncing a soccer ball off it.

Anybody feel like starting a letter-writing campaign to Goodyear? I want my flying car!

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Vampire Bat Scare

Tell me this is a hoax. Please

Can a movie be far behind? With voice talent by Mark Hamill, Frank Welker, and Bruce Willis.
Hell's Angels Gripe over Copyright

If this were a chapter in America, the body count would be astronomical. U.S.A! U.S.A!
Stern Hoax

I'm no fan of Howard but this was pretty good.
Barbie Outed

Is this a good idea? I know I could be considered reactionary but did this just open the flood gates?

Friday, April 02, 2004

Space Ghost!

Next the space station walls bleed and a portal to Space Hell opens up.
Earth to Klingons: We Need an Asskickin'

New methods of searching for intelligent life.

(Okay, maybe we don't need an asskicking but the bastards at Tyco do.)
Time for Street Justice

Junior Soprano had his goons intimidate a juror to get a mistrial. The bastards at Tyco didn't need to.
U.S. Death Toll in Iraq

I think about this when I have students in the Armed Forces in class. Marines in my class have a 4.0 average (they actually do what I tell them in rewrites!)

During Vietnam, there was a saying "D=Death," meaning that unless soldiers kept a 3.0 GPA, they could be sent to less desirably locations. Makes it hard to stay totally objective in grading.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Kid Rock

Jack Black in School of Rock said that Rock was about sticking it to the man. He also admitted it was effectively dead. It didn't strike me how mild rock really is until it came up on my daughter's Maisy video.
For those of you without children, Maisy is for kids too old for Teletubbies but not ready for the swift-moving dialogue of Sesame Street.

When Maisy the mouse invited her friends Cyril the squirrel and Charlie the crocodile to her house, they danced to various types of music, polka and "rock and roll: what fun!" Children today must recognize rock as the type of music used as the background for boring commercials.

Rap hasn't come quite as far but Spongebob Squarepants featured "When Worlds Collide," a rap by a dancing robot and a caveman.

The Man's laughing all the way to the bank.
Couple of Weeks to Go

My stepdaughter doesn't believe me when I told her there's going to be more cicada than she's ever seen. She was born in 1993, missing the 1987 and 1989 invasion.

I was amazed that the swarm I remember from childhood was in 1970, when I was two. Either someone has planted false memories or I can remember that far back. I grew up with the memories while there are 16-year olds today thinking it's all a bunch of hype.
Mack the What?

George Washington knew him? He was a child rapist? (Mack, not George.) He shilled for McDonalds? How little I suspected.