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Currently, dA removes copyright-infriging art or writing about which they've received a DMCA cease-and-desist letter from the copyright holder.

That's all.

There's no follow-up to see that the dA member is not constantly repeating, in a long-standing pattern of copyright abuse before or since. There's no penalty to a dA member for continual copyright abuse-- in other words, it's a crime without punishment. WHY NOT keep up the piracy, if the only punishment is the removal of SOME of the material, and there's no long-term or more severe penalty?

Does dA even have a mechanism to alert staff when there's a pattern of repeated copyright infringement by a member?

dA should be doing more, imposing stiffer penalties for repeat offenders. For the worst offenders, lengthy or permanent suspension/termination of membership seems appropriate.

To do less seems negligent-- a systemic fault for which dA might be sued by a copyright owner whose work has been frequently pirated by one or more dA members.

Let me offer a case in point: dA member LaPurr's journals.

Rarely, there's a LaPurr journal that merely lists links to other websites' copyrighted material. There's nothing wrong with that-- it's worth encouraging. Here's one of those: lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…

The overwhelming majority, however, is cut-and-paste theft of copyrighted material, with no reference to copyright, the copyright holder, or the website from which the material's been stolen.

You can easily prove this to yourself by cut-and-pasting from LaPurr's journals into Google any material that looks like a unique quote. In every case you'll see that the material's been stolen from a website where it's listed as COPYRIGHTED. You'll see piracy in every LaPurr journal that has "overheard" in its title, and most others too.

Examples:
Overheard in New York lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
 comes from www.overheardinnewyork.com/arc…

Clients from Hell lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
comes from clientsfromhell.net/post/73965…

Ponderables lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
comes from grouchyrabbit.com/permalink.ph…

Overheard Everywhere lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
comes from www.overheardeverywhere.com/ar…

First World Problems lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from first-world-problems.com/

Overheard: Compliments lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from www.overheardeverywhere.com/ar…

Conspiracy Theorists lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from www.godlikeproductions.com/for…

Yet More News of the Weird lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from www.newsoftheweird.com/archive…

More News of the Weird lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from www.newsoftheweird.com/archive…

News of the Weird lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from www.newsoftheweird.com/archive…

Dear (Blank) Please (Blank) www.deviantart.com/messages/#v…
is stolen from dearblankpleaseblank.com/perma…

Overheard on the Bus lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from www.overheardeverywhere.com/ar…

Overheard at College lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from www.overheardeverywhere.com/ar…

When Parents Text lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from whenparentstext.com/tag/food

Hell explained by a Chemistry Student lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
could have come from several sources: www.google.com/search?q=the+vo….

Not Always Working: Employees lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from notalwayslearning.com/judge-no…

Not Always Romantic: Relationships lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from notalwaysromantic.com/?s=cross…

Not Always Related: Family lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from notalwaysrelated.com/?s=lesbia…

Not Always Learning: Education lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from notalwayslearning.com/?s=texte…

Not Always Right: Customers lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from notalwaysright.com/going-banan…

Fundies say the darnedest things lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/…
is stolen from www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.asp…

...and that's just the theft LaPurr has committed in journals in the first three weeks of 2014.

LaPurr has been doing this copyright infringement for YEARS. dA has been many given DMCA copyright infringement notices from the legal owners of the materials, several years ago.

dA, you're clearly not doing enough. In LaPurr's case, LaPurr knows it's theft, knows it breaks dA terms of service, and yet continues to commit this theft.
Silence is assent, dA. Please take action so that repeat offenders on dA are not given a free pass to commit copyright infringement again...and again... and again.
  • Listening to: David Wilcox (the American, not the Canadian one)
  • Reading: Howard Zimm
  • Watching: "Religulous", a satiric documentary abou
So I've been in a wheelchair since January.

It's....not that bad. At least, not that bad compared to crutches. Crutches are wobbly and tiring. Wheelchairs are a lot more relaxing to use, unless there's a staircase or uphill incline.

People have been, for the most part, overly kind and accommodating. Strangers give me a push. Even "standing" in line at a bank, kind people tell me to go to the head of the line as though the head of the line is a handicapped parking spot. ...As though I'm not sitting down while the rest of the people in line are standing. I try to point that out-- that I'm the only one in line who had the foresight to bring a chair.

I'm bummed that a wheelchair is optical birth control: it's a rare person who's attracted to the ...uhh... "Iron Man" look. Other than the OBC, though, I feel like I've been promoted to be everyone's favorite uncle. You've probably seen the same effect on a much grander scale any time a stranger brings a puppy/kitten/baby to the park: strangers gather around, start conversations, and feel far less stand-off-ish (afraid of?) the person with the puppy.

Maybe it's instant empathy, or just the realization that the guy sitting in the iron chair can't steal your wallet & run away. I don't know.

In general, the effect being in a wheelchair has had on me is not depressing. I guess I was emotionally prepared for it... even welcoming it after years of increasing reliance on tiring, wobbly crutches. So...not depressing, no. It's more like an engineering challenge. Every day I'm presented with puzzles like "That's a wheelchair-friendly bathroom? Really? How do I..." and "Why is this rest home for seniors and the disabled located at the end of a long empty road with a hill at the end?"

Every month, I get an idea for a handy improvement for wheelchairs. It's amazing how undeveloped they are... and when someone has developed and marketed an improvement or add-on, it's almost always less complicated than bicycle gears but inexplicably in the 3,000 to 7,000 manufacturer's-suggested-retail-price zone.

Things like cup holders, fold-away tray tables, backpacks that store UNDER the seat, and gears should be basic, not semi-exotic add-ons. Gears like "flip this switch and both wheels will move together in a straight line, even if you have a book in one hand" and "flip that switch and a ratchet gear prevents the chair from moving backward, so going uphill is easier".

A word of explanation: Much of the energy a wheelchair user spends going uphill is energy continually spent preventing the chair from rolling back down. If that part were gone, then going uphill would be reduced to a set of short pushes with the option for lots of easy rest stops in between pushes.

My perspective has changed, of course. Everyone seems tall, even 12-year-olds. Walking looks so....tipsy. 10 yards of sand between the road and the ocean looks like an impossible hurdle. The slightest tilt in a road or sidewalk means I'll have aching shoulders. Trips from bed to bathroom have an added element of risk: "Can I get there in time? If not, what'll I do?" Humanity in general, on an individual basis, seems... a lot nicer.

The doctors disagree about whether the chair's a permanent part of my future. In the meantime, I'm dealing with it one engineering problem at a time.Thank goodness I love puzzles.
  • Listening to: Brights and Michael Moore
  • Reading: Hume, on skepticism; Chomsky, on politics
  • Watching: "Religulous", a satiric documentary abou
SPOILER ALERT
This essay contains Strong Language, and other words about reproduction, religion, and politricks.
If you don't mind cussin' and adult sexy talk, and you're a liberal Darwinist, you'll enjoy this essay.
Children and other small-minded people should probably stop reading here, if their reading skills allowed them to make it this far.
Kids, Creationists, and Conservatives, go play, pray or prey.

----------

Smart, broad-minded Darwinists, it's up to US to come up with a more accurate and sexier slogan for evolution. Our current slogan, "Survival of the Fittest", isn't a clear evolutionary improvement over Creationists' latest pithy slogan, "God! He started it!" Pith on that.

We need a better bumper sticker.

It's stoopid of us, but whether we accept a theory is greatly affected by the slogan that gets out and dances in front of that theory. It's like deciding the outcome of a football game based on who's got the better cheerleaders, or electing Obama because he looks better in a frilly dress than Hillary Clinton would.

"Survival of the Fittest" is catchy but, pardon the expression, it's not just sexy enough. It leaves out the sex at the heart of the matter: Evolution is based on successfully getting laid, not merely surviving. (In that way, Evolution is a lot like the two or three years you and I spent as College Freshmen.)

Hell, even Tea Partiers know that their survival depends on screwing other people-- they learned that lesson by watching Wall Street bankers. The Occupy Wall Street liberals are only now catching up on that research. Thank goodness they've chosen to occupy the best place to observe the 1% repeatedly screwing with ...well...everything except bears. www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=…

The Wall Street 1% are petrified (in the non-Viagra sense) of bears because Wall Street is deathly afraid of the so-called "bear" economy that's the inevitable outcome of screwing everyone. Ask anyone: Wall Street lives on copius amounts of bull, but dies if it faces a bear. www.investopedia.com/articles/basics/03/100303.asp

I digress.

www.google.com/search?q=puttin… Some great thinkers have suggested "F***ing, putting the 'win' in 'Darwin'!"  but prudes have said that using the F-bomb puts waaaay too MUCH sex into the slogan. It's feast or famine, 1% or 99%. What we really need is something halfway sexy., a slogan for an educated, well fed middle class Darwinist who realizes that for all of humanity to get ahead, we need for ALL share the loving, not just watch as the 1% screw the 99% to death.  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_are_t…

Let's look at a few other examples in the wild. Sarah Palin, for example, needs an expensive wardrobe (apparently) www.google.com/search?q=sarah+… and a good slogan to make her look sexy in the public eye. Sarah, you will recall, is the Alaskan most famous for her appearance on nature documentaries while she hunts bears from helicopters. www.grizzlybay.org/SarahPalinI… She's badly in need of a survivable slogan, because right now only survivalists, people who hate bears, and other crazy folk from Wall Street would vote for her.

I blame her weak slogan. Right now Sarah Palin's "Tea Party" political group is using "We Support Sarah Palin, because she scared us into it. It's all that flying around in a helicopter armed with a shotgun and a camera. Who does she think she is, www.google.com/search?q=black+… the CIA? She might accidentally shoot us, friends, like Dick Cheney www.google.com/search?q=dick+c… does." Obviously, this slogan's problematic, because it's too long.

Also, it's only popular with the Tea Party in Alaska and on the unoccupied portions of Wall Street. Sure, they've locked in 1% of the vote, but what about the other 99%? The Tea Party needs a slogan that will appeal to EVERYONE, even the folks who Occupy Wall Street, the impoverished middle and lower classes, and the pinkos in the Castro section of San Francisco. www.google.com/search?q=castro+section+san+francisco

It's a little known fact, by the way, that the Castro section of San Francisco is home to a large indigenous population of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bear_%28… pink "bears". These bears are in no danger of reproducing out of control-- quite the reverse, actually. Their mating habits preclude Darwin's theory. Anyway their clothing and body fur are what the military calls "OCD", "Optical Contraceptive Devices". San Francisco's "bear" population is an endangered species not only because it lacks a sexy slogan and can't reproduce: it's also under attack by Tea Partiers and other conservatives who don't understand that bears, even ones with dark fur visible under hideous pink wedgie thongs, are a part of the balance of nature.

Maybe San Francisco "bears" need a catchier slogan more than the Tea Partiers do. How about "Bears: We'd be sexier if we had a Brazilian Bikini wax from a hairdresser, to hot-wax-peel our thong area." What do you think? beauty.about.com/od/hairremoval/ht/bikiniwax.htm

I digress.

Hey, it occurs to me that we've just explained the Black Helicopters that follow around paranoid liberals. As Woody Allen says, "You're not being paranoid if they're REALLY out to get you." Black Helicopters must be carrying crazed Starbucks-fed supercaffeinated Tea Partiers with rifles and cameras. Those heavily armed Black Helicopters aren't spying for political gain-- they're just hoping we'll lead them to the bears.

The party is just getting started.

This Tea Party slogan is, at least, better able to survive than its predecessor, "Tea baggers: Showing the lower classes and inferior races what we think of them, one forehead at a time". It's waaay better than their first slogan, "Feed the rich: Eat the poor" although that slogan was both short AND Darwinian. 'T'warn't sexy.

Their slogan is evolving. It's getting shorter and pithier, so it can hold the attention of even small-brained rodents, Republicans, and other reptiles. Tea Party researchers understand these three slow-witted, notoriously selfisish groups are the only places where they might recruit new Tea Party members. Therefore a short witty slogan is essential to the survival of the Tea Party as a species.

In this context, I mean "species" in the sense of a group of inbred animals who, for reasons usually genetic but sometimes financial or moral, can't successfully produce healthy fertile offspring by screwing other animals from outside their species. www.muttonbone.com/

It's not for lack of trying. For more information, consult Prof. H. R. H. Hoofenmaut's seminal survey, "Stay away from my sheep: a survey of mating rituals amongst the rural reactionaries." Be sure to read appendix G, with its short recommendation about barbed wire and inflatable sheep dolls.

I've heard that the Tea Party's next slogan will really pith people off: "Tea Party: It's where the Mad Hatters gather in Wonderland!" sabian.org/alice_in_wonderland…

Their slogan clearly needs to evolve. Tea Partiers, Creationists, and other small-minded dinosaurs too. www.google.com/search?q=evolut… If they don't evolve, they're surely going to win The Darwin Award by killing us all. www.darwinawards.com/

I think I have the perfect slogan to express the Tea Party's social Darwinist goals: "We want to screw you! Bring back the Bush!" As everyone knows, bush is essential for screwing successfully, Remember the so-called "Bush baby" years 2000 - 2008 and decades ago in the late 1980s time of Big Daddy Bush. Back then, the reptile, republican, and rodent populations flourished by screwing anything they could hold down while hiding behind a Bush.

That's enough writing about the small-minded. Instead read about higher life forms like flatworms, pond scum, educated folk, biologists, doctors, and all the other species that religious conservatives religiously associate with leeches.

So, how can we inject sex back into Darwin's theory of evolution? "Survival of the Fittest", a phrase coined in the Puritanical era of late 1800s England, robs the theory of its strong underlying link to sex and babymaking.

How about "Survival of the F.I.L.F. ...and M.I.LF."?

A MILF, of course, is a M-other I-'d L-ove to, uh, F-iretruck with a long hard ladder. A FILF is, of course, a Father who's gonna get lucky in the Darwinian way.

Good luck with evolving the slogan.

Meanwhile, I've got to go take a cold shower & clean up. I feel FILFy.

I digress.
  • Listening to: Brights and Michael Moore
  • Reading: Hume, on skepticism; Chomsky, on politics
  • Watching: "Religulous", a satiric documentary abou
  • Playing: "Doctor" with a Nurse
  • Eating: Pastafarian Ramen
  • Drinking: Pepsi. No Tea.
I think too often we're tempted to dismiss the power of humor, especially of cartoonists.

Sure, wars and fists and laws and cops have a big impact, but what those things do with stern-ness humor can often do too. Humor disarms us, and happily invites us to share a point of view and a punchline. Humor can even *gasp* unexpectedly affect things as serious as science.

Let's start with politics, and place it firmly in the distant past so that we don't offend anyone reading this journal today.

THOMAS NAST, in the mid- to late 1800s, was a well-known political cartoonist. After a lot of compelling work about slavery and the Civil War, he turned his attention to "Boss Tweed", the then-mayor of New York City and a thorough scoundrel. Tweed was at teh heart of a scandal in which police questioned what Tweed's group had done to make 200 MILLION dollars of taxpayers' money disappear-- and that was 1860s dollars!

For three years starting in 1968, Nast attacked Tweed in Harper's Weekly and The New York Times. Here's the best part: After Tweed was jailed, Tweed "escaped from jail and fled to Spain in 1876. He was recognized and arrested by a customs official who did not read English but had seen Nast's Harper's Weekly caricatures of Tweed."

Sources: cartoons.osu.edu/nast/bio.htm www2.truman.edu/parker/researc…

Next, look at science.

Would you believe that Gary Larson, the author of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Far_… "The Farside" one-frame cartoons, is responsible for en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thagomiz… the name of a dinosaur's tail? Think of the big rows of spikes on a images.google.co.th/images?q=s… stegosaur's en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tha… tail. Then read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tha… the Farside cartoon, and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thagomiz… this article.

Poor Gary Larson. Although his cartoon led to the naming of a dinosaur's tail-- how cool!!-- Gary Larson himself was...ummm... "honored" in the biology community by having a variety of sucking louse named after him. Larson felt honored, but lamented that noone had named a species of swan after him.

Sources: www.evilmadscientist.com/artic… en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strigiph…

Have you ever read Bill Watterson's www.google.co.th/search?q="calvin+and+hobbes" "Calvin and Hobbes", a cartoon strip starring a small boy and his tiger pal? That comic strip is responsible for a growing trend to give a new, more exciting name to "The Big Bang" theory of the creation of the universe. On Sunday, June 21, 1992 the cartoonist complained through his characters that "The Big Bang" was a boring name, and suggested "The Horrendous Space Kablooie" as an alternative. The name got an enthusiastic informal following among scientists, who often abbreviate it "the HSK". The name is now even used in some textbooks and scientific papers.

Sources: www.fact-index.com/h/ho/horren… en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin_a…
  • Listening to: cat purring
  • Reading: Hume, on skepticism; Chomsky, on politics
  • Watching: The "Tea Party", those twisted, deluded
  • Playing: Moody Blues
  • Eating: Pastafarian Ramen
  • Drinking: Strawberry juice
My friend signs off her www.genevacsd.org/North.cfm?su… web page like this:

-------

My philosophy:
Life should not be a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely in an
attractive and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways, Unified Nations
Medal of Honor in one hand, Kryptonian Laser
Beam of Kindness & Villain Detector in the
other, body thoroughly used up, totally
worn out and screaming
'WOO HOO What a ride!'

-------
Wow. That short mission statement makes me want to stand on a chair and applaud.

Or... I would, if I hadn't used up so many of my moving parts already. I've always believed that like a good amusement park ride, adventure has a price of admission. The only difference is that with real adventure, you pay the price at some random time during the adventure. So, I've had a wild life, scuba diving with sharks, motorbiking around Japan, spelunking and horseriding in El Paso. I've also paid with roughly 18 bone breaks over the years, and three limbs that don't move as freely as they used to.

I'd always imagined that life would end abruptly during one of these adventures-- that I'd "pay the ultimate price" and leave a good-looking fully functional corpse. Now I know that my fate is more like the fate of an old concrete patio: to slowly break up into smaller pieces. ;)

There are three things that make the future still wonderful:
1) the mission statement quoted above,
2) all the adventures I can still have..and could have even if I were superglued to a wheelchair for the last decades of my life,
and 3) the low cost and restorative power of knee replacement surgery. Woo-hoo!!! I'm gonna save my money for buying another ticket on this ride.
  • Listening to: cat purring
  • Reading: Hume, on skepticism; Chomsky, on politics
  • Watching: The "Tea Party", those twisted, deluded
  • Playing: Moody Blues
  • Eating: Pastafarian Ramen
  • Drinking: Strawberry juice
Am I the only one bothered by the recent trend in programming on the Sci Fi Channel?

"Sci Fi" is short for "Science Fiction". The key word there is "science". It's not "superstition", "pseudoscience", "alchemy", "the war channel", "swords and sandals", "scientology", nor "magic".

It most particularly does not mean "faith-based programming". Faith is the antithesis of science. Science uses doubt and objectivity to find the truth. Faith pretends to know the truth despite the evidence. Faith is... a mental weakness, NOT a strength.

Faith therefore has no place on the Sci Fi Channel, any more than a sitcom has a place on the History Channel.

Yet...look at the number of shows in each category. The Sci Fi chanel has clearly lost its direction, and needs a violent tug on its leash to bring it back on track.

Look at this list of shows, and see what I'm whinging about:

CATEGORY ONE: SWORDS AND SANDALS

www.imdb.com/title/tt1199099/ Merlin:
Magic. Swords and sandals. We don't even have a COnnecticut Yankee to rescue this King Arthur's Court from sinking into a mire of superstition and magic. Utterly no science nor futuristic settings. Worse, it's bad history! No other Arthurian legend pretends that Merlin was young when he met Arthur, and no reasonably true-to-history show would dream of pretending that black people (no offense) held ranks of nobility in ancient England. Don't even get me started about the anachronisms of the language they speak. I'm waiting for the episode when Merlin compares  a jousting match to playing a video game-- then I'll turn purple, fall over, and write hate mail.

This show has less science and engineering than a Sunday morning episode of Davey and Goliath. At least when claymation Davey drops a hammer, you have a reasonable expectation that the hammer will obey gravity.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0844653/ The Seeker, Legend of The Seeker, etc:
Magic. Swords and sandals. Men With Their Shirts Off And Women In Lacy Princess Dresses. Fantasy land with dragons and demons and unicorns, like a Disney universe. Not one whiff of science. Same as Merlin, but without trying to describe any real history, so they can at least be forgiven for taking a very loose inaccurate view of historical society, weaponry, language, etc.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0112230/ Xena, Warrior Princess:
Or, as I like to call it, "Conan the Barbie".

Swords and sandals...and makeup and magic. Greek gods, Roman gods, goofy made-up gods, & pig-people. OK, they get a minor liberal/progressive plus-point for hinting that Xena and her female companion might be lesbian, but deduct half a point for cowardice because they never make that point clear. Xena kisses swords, babies, and coins but never her girlfriend.

There ain't no science, no engineering, nor math beyond "one, two, ...many".

Even worse, it makes zero science sense even in its own universe. Nobody except demons and pig people ever sweat, or carry water or a change of clothes. Xena never smudges her damned eye liner, and only bad guys have bad teeth. Xena's legs and armpits are shaved and her hair is freshly shampooed, even when she's on the road. She and her companion appear to walk everywhere, yet never get tired: Xena's always ready to do an unnecessary back flip while killing minions after a long hike. She never gets bicep or thigh scars, despite leaving those areas completely unprotected during countless fights. Hell, she doesn't even get mosquitoes buzzing around her and biting, during her long walks in the woods!

C'mon, Xena! At least get bugbites!!

I can't believe that there was www.google.co.th/search?q=xena… a serious group of astronomers who wanted to name a newly discovered planetoid after Xena. Who gets that honor next? Goofy and Pluto? Oh... uhhh..never mind.

CATEGORY TWO: PARAPSYCHOLOGY / PSEUDOSCIENCE

www.imdb.com/title/tt0281432/ The Dead Zone:
Magical parapsychology, without even a sugarcoating of pseudoscience. The main character is a modern-day man who has the ability to see the future and past of whoever previously touched an object that he's holding. He probably has a hissy fit every time he touches a public phone or a subway handrail, yet he doesn't even wear gloves, so deduct thousands of points for lack of internal logic in The Dead Zone's universe.

Parapsychology at this level is on a par with magic, because there's no attempt to give it a scientific basis. We're simply asked to accept that he has this magical ability.

Ghost Whisperer:
Magical parapsychology. Like "The Sixth Sense", the main character sees dead people and helps them "toward the light". Once again, it's parapsychology and pseudoscience on a par with magic...but this time, stir in massive amounts of religion and superstition too.

Give it two plus-points for starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Her Two Large Pillowlike Dependents, but remove several million for putting superstition, magic, and religion on the Science Fiction Channel.

Medium:
Magical parapsychology. Remember everything I said about Ghost Whisperer and The Dead Zone? Repeat it for "Medium", which is about a housewife and Her Large Breasts who can see the future in dreams and thus prevent crimes.

Errrmmm.... the **housewife** can see the future. Her breasts are, as far as I know, not unusually talented.

Tru Calling:
Magical parapsychology. A woman and Her Medium-Sized Breasts can talk to dead people, then travel back in time one day to prevent their murders. Take a pinch of all the other parapsychology shows' plots, stir them, simmer, and you've got "Tru Calling".

There's not a whiff of science anywhere around. We even get the distasteful story arc of an evil grim reaper (i.e., magical godlette) who tries to make these deaths go as planned, foiling Tru's work.



CATEGORY THREE: COMIC BOOK SUPERHEROES

www.imdb.com/title/tt0813715/ HEROES: OK, give it some half-points for mentioning DNA and occasionally pretending that there's genetic engineering pseudoscience involved. I'll even give it a half-point for using memorable characters like the Puppet Master, the pudgy psychic cop, and Hiro the Geeky Office Worker who are obviously not possessed of Large Breasts. Well... maybe the pudgy psychic cop does.

Take those half-points away, though, for making one of the central characters a frikkin' CHEERLEADER, and making every other female superhero a reasonably hot chick of model proportions and age. By the end of every episode, my brain is screaming, "Where are the superhero kids, the Janeane Garofalo supergal, and the Pregnant Pasta-mongering supervillain?

Also, we've got to subtract several gazillion points for the stupid pseudoscience. Why, for example, should we believe that **any** amount of genetic manipulation can cause these mutations? Sure, I'll believe in a DNA twist that causes superstrength: the average monkey is an Olympian athlete compared to us, and Neanderthals were natural weightlifters compared to wimpy Homo Sapiens. But... how can a genetic twist cause a man to travel magically backward and forward in time and space? Or fly without wings or any other visible physics? Or move faster than the eye can see, without pushing his guts out his backside, swallowing ten million "windshield suicide" mosquitoes, and setting fire to his hair?

This has all the science of a parent's explanation of Santa's one-night trek around the world on Christmas Eve. Good luck with the chimneys, boys.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0756509/p… Kyle XY:
This is the lowest budget cartoon superhero show on the Sci-Fi channel. It's sort of like The Waltons, or Eight is Enough, if they'd gone wandering in the woods and found a teenager with no memory, poor social skills, above average athletic ability, and psychic abilities. And that's it.

I'll give it a handful of plus-points for not going to silly extremes with the physical abilities. Kyle is very accurate with a basketball, and can jump down from a 2nd storey roof without shattering his ankles, but we don't see ludicrous abilities like skin of steel, laser eyes, flying, or supersonic speeds.

We very quickly find reasons to take those points away, though, because he has magical unexplained psychic abilities. "Paranormal" equals "magic", people. Even the rudiments of mind-reading, spoon-bending, and future-forecasting have never been proven in controlled lab conditions.

If I wanted to see a low budget family hour magic show, I'd tune in to www.imdb.com/title/tt0090500/ "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" or The Mickey Mouse Club (which at least has www.imdb.com/name/nm0002088/ Annette Funicello's two pillowy postpubescent dependents to keep me attentive).

www.imdb.com/title/tt0283203/ Mutant X:
Magic. Stupid kindergarten pseudoscience. Take the worst parts of "Heroes" and "The X Men", refuse to add any imagination, and reduce the budget to less than a stick insect supermodel spends on snack foods.

**Every** character is model-proportions and model-age. They wear high heels while running (guys too). They wear black leather form-fitting clothes for no apparent reason except product placement.

Other than these obvious shortcomings, this show has the same shortcomings as "Heroes": Bad Science In Capital Letters. No amount of genetic manipulation can cause a man to, in midlife, begin to generate and throw off lightning balls on command...without turning his own balls into "lightning balls". Toast, anyone? Or fly. Or rapidly change into another animal and back again without shaving and eating lots of calories, or be invisible. C'mon, guys!!!

If it's gonna be Science Fiction, it's at least gotta be possible.


HALLOWEEN:

www.imdb.com/title/tt0965394/ Sanctuary:
Magic and historical superstition. Not a smidgen of science. Set in modern times, but add in every superstition and Halloween story you can scrape off the dungeon walls. The main characters collect vampires, werewolves, Creatures From The Black Lagoon, mermaids, and ghouls. Immortality is a given.

The "science" in this Science Fiction Channel show is so bad that in the commercial trailer, the main character says "We protect the two dominant species from each other: humans and abnormals." OK, humans are a species. (A species is a group of beings genetically compatible to the point where their offspring are fertile.) "Abnormals", though... good luck trying to prove that a mermaid is sexually compatible with a werewolf or a vampire or lizard-boy, and hide the cutlery during their blind date.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0162065/ Angel.
Vampires, demons, magic, superstition. Not a single copy of Scientific American nor Popular Mechanics has ever been seen in this studio. Angel is a spin-off of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". 'Nuff said.

CATEGORY FOUR: RELIGION MARKETED AS SCIENCE

www.imdb.com/title/tt0290966/ Jeremiah:
Start off by giving this show several hundred plus-points. The characters live in a fairly realistic post-apocalyptic world where real physics and psychology apply. Happily, the show has no bad science or magic other than religion. Even the apocalypse is explained as a mere virus that wiped out all adults.

I'll even give out a few points for dirty collars, non-supermodel actors, and a distinct lack of Large Breasts.

However, we've got to withdraw 90% of those plus-points for two reasons.

Firstly, there's a 15-episode story arc involving a man (Miser Smith, played by Sean Astin) who hears The Voice Of God. And people take him seriously. And follow him.

You know what they say in the REAL world: "If you talk to a god, that's prayer. If a god answers regularly, that's schizophrenia." (No offense intended toward schizophrenics.) This guy gets more help from his invisible god, every day, than Jesus was supposed to have gotten in any given year.

So F U, Sci Fi Channel, for giving us "Jeremiah", a Sunday morning church meeting. Take your magic show and shove it onto some other channel, please!

Secondly, Jeremiah has an episode that is so apologetic to religion, I can readily believe it was written to pacify religious cultists. The "Sail beyond the stars" episode starts by showing us "The Brothers of the Apocalypse", a Raelian/Scientologist-style culture in which cultists are trekking toward the ocean, where they expect to be picked up by their god or spaceships. The episode ends with the titular Jeremiah standing on an empty beach (the Raelian/Scientologists have either walked into the ocean or been beamed up into spaceships-- we're not told which). On a rock nearby the cultists painted "BELIEVE" before they disappeared.

Every show afterward starts with a brief shot of the cultists' "BELIEVE" message in a montage of other show scenes. Once again, we have religion and faith deeply polluting a channel that should be the ANTITHESIS of believing-without-proof.



CATEGORY FIVE: SOLDIER STORIES MASQUERADING AS SCIENCE FICTION


www.imdb.com/title/tt0374455/ Stargate: Atlantis
War, war, and more war. Zero psychology, zero real science, lots of two-dimensional bad guys.

Although this is set in the future with space ships and aliens, this is basically a war paranoia, hate-em-and-kill-em show. It's a soldier's story, plain and overly-simple.
The entire series relies on a story arc involving Fighting The Enemy, who are called "The Wraiths". These enemy, like all low budget aliens, look remarkably human. Unlike a decent alien, however, their psychology is as flat and unbelievable as the Sunday morning comic page in your newspaper. This is a bunch of bad guys dreamt up by someone who either never aged mentally above a nine-year-old's level, or who wants all of Amerikkka to drop into paranoid mode and fight off "alla dem dirty camel jockeys, socialists, democrats, and drug dealers".

There is not one single episode without a gun.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0213327/ Andromeda:
OK, we've got spaceships, stars, and orbits that decay. But that's the full extent of the science fiction here. It's a soldier story starring Supermodels Without Chairs.

The commercial trailer for the show starts with "every fight...". Honestly, they could say "every episode has a fight". It's not always organized war, but there're plenty of barfights and mercenary and bounty hunter-type fights to fill in the show's quota of several killings per show.

Worse, "Andromeda" has almost every other defect listed in the shows above. And. No. Chairs. Seriously. If there's a chair in any episode, or if a character sits down, it's because he's a0 being tortured in the chair, or b) he's been shot. Even political meetings and long hours on the "bridge" command center are done STANDING.

All women are aliens or robots, but are nonetheless falling into the category of "supermodel" and one of the following two categories: "Large Breasted" or "Hot Asian Chick". All men are either fat stupid minions (bullet bait), or have a model's good looks and muscles.

All people must wear tight fitting dark leather clothes-- even the Large Breasted robots and Hot Asian Chick computer avatars. All non-people are fat male minions in stupid clothes, who can be mowed down without guilt.

Kings and "real" gods are okey-dokey. Nobody ever says "Hey, this supermodel chick has been on the run since she skipped high school ten years ago. Maybe ancestry shouldn't play a part in choosing our leader. She looks sexy in leather and no chair, but maybe she's not the ideal person to run our planets. Y'think maybe we could find a Yale grad or two and run an election?"

(Hey, why DO Americans constantly LIKE shows that support kings and nationalized religion? Did Americans rewrite the Constitution and forget the American Revolution?) All the sword-and-sandals shows, most Disney movies, and many of the others also support kings without mentioning democracies, but let's leave the politics for another journal entry. Today, let's just drill into the Bad or Absent Science in our Science Fiction.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0092455/ "Star Trek: The Next Generation":
OK, I feel reeeeally conflicted about disrespecting Star Trek. Let's just say that they're better than half-bad. On the plus side, the original series starred an alien science officer that every serious geek knows: Spock. It also starred a black female communications officer, in a time when race was a huge issue-- and therefore went at least part-way toward explaining the huuuge scientific leap of being able to translate the language of aliens from their very first words during first contact.

At least half of the shows are true science fiction: they're based on medicine, exploring, astronomy, engineering, psychology, or cultural problems.

However, there are a lot of cons.

They are constantly on the brink of war and shooting to kill. Their enemies include the Borg, who are as shallow and psychology-less as the Wraith of "Star Gate: Atlantis". It makes me weep to think that the Borg, being cybernetic half-machine-half-men, are the closest thing to "science fiction characters" in repeating roles.

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" dives deeply into in Klingon culture, which revels in war, subjectivity, bravado, and personal violence, rather than Vulcan culture, which revolves around science and objectivity.

There's a new gal in town. She's a "mind reader" and a counselor. Let's give a few points for Star Trek including a psychologist, but take away several hundred points for making her uniform the only low-cut one, revealing Large Breasts. Also, take away several thousand points for making her "psychic", though her powers are startlingly NEVER useful. She occasionally senses deception, but never at critical times...and apparently can't "see" anything in her mind's eye until it's almost stabbing the pupils in her face's eyes. She's as much a mind-reader as the minimum wage guy who bags my groceries.

Warf, the Klingon security officer, has appeared on more Star Trek shows (including the other spin-offs of the original series) than any other character, including Spock. Warf has also replaced BOTH the science officer and communications officer on the command bridge....and they took away his chair, so he'd be as grumpy as "Andromeda" characters.

They shoot new aliens with phasers and photon torpedoes more often than they shake hands with or invite new aliens aboard their ship.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0303461/ Firefly:
Again, I feel divided about this show. At least half the episodes are about stealing or engine repairs, rather than killing. But...no, this one belongs firmly in the "kill'em dead soldier story" category. One crew member is a dedicated mercenary gun-toter, who is given a chair but kept permanently grumpy by calling him "Jane". All crew members carry guns and fire'em at least once an episode.

Notice I said "guns", not "phasers" or "lasers" or "photon torpedoes". Yup... set five hundred years in the future, surrounded by interstellar rockets, Firefly's universe is still using gunpowder.

This must be the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amish Amish corner of the sci-fi universe.

All these en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Ludd… neo-Luddite crew save one are model-age and model-looks, and one is a psychotic waif teenage stick insect psychic supermodel who's trained to be a supersoldier. Hey, I ain't lying: she's the ultimate bad Su-F-U character, except for not dressing in Large Breasts and Leather. Those shortcomings are more than made up for by the chesty fashion-rack professional hooker character (hey, I swear I'm not making this up).

The one crew who is NOT supermodel age and looks is, sadly, a priest. He's called a "shepherd", which means that the faithful flock are sheeplike, giving up their powers of reasoning to follow the leader blindly. Nobody seems to mind being flocked by this guy-- they must be punch-drunk after a night with the hooker or ten rounds with Jayne and His Magical Warrior Waif.

The enemy has two faces, both with flat cartoon psychology and therefore impossible to feel objective about. There's a sinister government churning out preteen stick figure model/soldiers, and there's a vampire-like class of omnipresent cannibal space-psychos, who never seem to go down in population despite their lack of prey and dietary variability. One would expect that the cannibals would eventually be...errrmmmm... self-serving, with french fries on the side, and thereby approach extinction.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0160277/ First Wave:
Magic and soldiering. Guided by the ancient prophecies of the blind religious psychic Nostradamus (church bells and alarm bells ringing, here), a man shoots every 2D alien invader he can find lurking in the general population. Are you laughing yet? If not, why not?

These cartoony cardboard-cutout alien invaders are called the "Gua", mainly because the names "Guano", "Grody", and "Goofy" were already taken.

Not surprisingly, for budgetary reasons 99.9% of the Gua look Just. Like. Us. Well... like the small percentage of "us" who are starving adult model/actors.

The main character is a male model with startlingly white teeth hidden by the glare of his blond hair. His sidekick is played by former porn star and struggling actress www.imdb.com/name/nm0000183/ Traci Lords and Her Large Breasts.

For half the series, the alien leader looks and acts like a cross between Skeletor and Darth Vader, complete with telekinetic throat-throttling powers which he exercises on badguy generals who display too little faith. For the other half of the series, the alien leader is a supermodel chick and the main alien pursuing Our Fortuneteller-following Hero is a black male supermodel with blinding white teeth but no blond hair.

At least two aliens die per episode. At least one example of magic, and no examples of good science, occur in each episode. Expect gunpowder and good looks, not good science fiction.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0407362/ Battlestar Galactica:
Religion, Neo-con (Latin for "new con-job") politics and paranoia, endless soldiering, Hot Asian Chicks and Large Breasts.

I've saved the worst for last.

Believe it or not, the original series was written/sponsored by the Mormon Church (the Church of Latter Day Saints). This re-working of the series is, I assume, also being funded and guided by the Mormons.

It seems to be written by the most paranoid, gun-loving, supermodel-hiring, neoconservative, Constitution-burning segment of the Mormon church. Let me run down the offensiveness of this show point by point:

Supermodels. The guys are allowed to be old or fat or wimpy, but the women are all twenty- or thirty- or forty-something thin models (including the Commander and, worse, Starbuck who had a sexchange and got Large Breasts when this show got reenvisioned). Hell, even the evil enemy ROBOTS are some of the sexiest hot-Asian-chick and Large-Breasted women on the show.

Guns. Someone is shot in every show. The guns are both futuristic lasers and gunpowder-popping weapons that you last saw velcro-ed to the bikini of Miss June in the N.R.A. calendar.

Death to democracy. Elections are suspended during the war with the robots. Did Karl Rove write this script?

Paranoia. The bad guys look Just Like Us, and are practically undetectable, despite being robots and thoroughly evil. Sound familiar? That's because the Invisible Menace is just like McCarthyism's Invisible Red Revolution Menace, Reagan's Invisible Drug Dealer Invasion, Bush's Invisible Terrorist Threat, and Rush Limbaugh's Invisible Army of Mexicans sneaking across America's southern border to dilute "Real Americans' Economy and Language".

Pro-Life/Anti-Abortion. Just like elections are suspended "for the duration of the War on Drugs...uhhh...Red Scare... umm... War On Terror", Women's right to abortion is also revoked to keep human population high. Hey, good luck with that six-headed vegetable baby of a rapist. I'm sure that baby won't drag on morale or the economy.

Religion. Occasionally, these characters get inspired by religious revelations. Surprisingly, this doesn't happen often on this otherwise completely odious show.

Soldiers infiltrating government. The functional vice-president is a general. 'Scuse me for pointing this out, but a military organization is the very antithesis of a democracy. The "superiors" koff-koff decide what everyone else hears, eats, kills, and dies for. But... I'm getting off the point, which is "gimme SCIENCE in my science fiction".

Robots that can pass as human. C'mon... the engineering here is big nuts and bolts, and half the guns use gunpowder. Are we supposed to believe that his level of engineering can produce a robot that could pose as someone's spouse without detection? No, not possible even in a dark bar at closing time, baby.
.
.
.
And there you have it.

The Science Fiction Channel should be showing us realistic science fiction like 2001: A Space Odyssey or exploring the deep ocean bottom (where, in real life, a new species is discovered on every dive).

Instead, they're like a tea party with Dolly Parton: lots of religion, lots of Large Breasts, maybe some sandals, an unbelievable magical gravity-defying engineering trick (if there's any engineering at all) and no sign of plausible science.
  • Listening to: cat purring
  • Reading: "Blinded by the Right" by David Brock
  • Watching: Thailand circling the drain
  • Playing: Scrabble
  • Eating: Pastafarian Ramen
  • Drinking: Strawberry juice
This could so quickly devolve into a David Letterman list of the top ten reasons a beer/dog/truck/chainsaw/TV is better than a girlfriend. I could so easily begin with "I had my cat's balls chopped off by the vet 2 days ago, and he forgives me already. Show me a girl that forgiving!" Stop me if we sink that low.

I spent Valentine's Day cuddling with my cat, not a human. And it was grrreat.

I live in Thailand, where romance is tied to finance. In fact, there's little to differentiate a "bad bar girl" from a "good marrying-kind woman", except the speed with which you get into their beds and whether they want a day's (night's?) wages or expect you to be the social security system for their extended family for years to come.

This "biggest upright pole holds up the whole damned circus tent" philosophy of social safety net runs contrary to my feelings of sexual equality and the deep-seated feeling that "the money I earn is mine". So, I don't get laid. I don't date. ...Not in this country, anyway. I'm looking for a woman who believes that friendship is not a profession... at least one who embraces the "friend" part of "girlfriend".

So, getting a cat is a strategy for mental health, while I avoid "Ms. Right Now" and hunt for "Ms. Right". I have a heart condition (hey, no joke) and remember all the times I'd read that 74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:… having a pet increases one's lifespan. It's even proven that the simple act of petting a cat www.google.com/search?q=pet+st… instantly reduces stress, blood pressure and heart rate. Among heart attack victims in a 1980 study, pet ownership correlated to 28% better chances of surviving the attack.

The cynic in me wonders if owning two cats would double ones chances, or halve them. Having seen a catfight or three, I think few people would live long enough to have a heart attack!   

Strangely...and we're sinking into Letterman territory, here...I can't recall a single report suggesting that having a girlfriend extends your life. In fact, women tend to live a few years longer than men. H'mmmm.

So, Senor Fuzzybutt (real name: Babyface Nelson) is a life-extension tool, and a way of making "single" life ...less single, and more bearable. It's working.

The cat's always glad to see me. He climbs up onto my chest, purrs, headbutts, and begs for petting countless times a day. I can't recall a woman climbing onto my chest, ever, unless it was prefaced by "I'll get off and let you breathe if you tell me you love me."

Errr... if a woman forces me to tell her I love her, then I don't think I can breathe in that kind of forced closeness, anyway. If only she'd move 30 cm to the left, right, forward, or backward, her chances for success would be so much better.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not a misogynist. I just don't like a woman to bring along her accountant and the expectation that I'm the horses a$$ that will be pulling her wagon for free. I think it's time for men's "equal rights": give women equal salary, but expect them to open the door for men and buy US MEN dinner half the time.

Sure, Senor Fuzzybutt will never buy me dinner, flowers, or a new TV remote... not even a pizza on video night. On the other hand, the relationship will never get more financially unbalanced than a daily buck for catfood, and a buck and a half for a nice collar every year. The cat's not even capable of asking for money and gifts, unless petting counts as a gift.

If petting counts as a gift, that's fine with me.

Get yourself a cat, and live happily ever afterward. The conversation's limited, but the warmth and approval is constant.
  • Listening to: cat purring
  • Reading: "Free Lunch" by David Cay Johnston
  • Watching: Thailand circling the drain
  • Playing: Expat, The Lifestyle
  • Eating: gnocci con pomador
  • Drinking: chilled icewater and strawberry slurpees.
It's surprising that most Americans and Europeans-- the folks who use "Roman" letters and "Arabic" numerals-- have never learned how those characters' shapes were chosen. The truth is, although they were invented separately from Chinese ideographs, their roots are surprisingly similar.

Take the letter A, for example. Originally, it was written with www.hebrew4christians.com/Gram… the same shape, but turned around a little. If you spin it in your mind's eye, you can see that its "legs" look a bit like cow horns, and the triangle looks a bit like a cow's face. It's a pictograph, meant to suggest the shape of a cow's face... or, in a long-ago language of the Middle East, "Aleph".

If you look at the Chinese/Japanese character www.learnchinesewebsite.com/le… that means "cow", at first glance it looks nothing like a cow's face nor like the letter A. Click on the link, however, and see its original form.

It's no mistake, incidentally, that the word "alphabet" sounds a bit like "Aleph". The word "alphabet" is a contraction of the names of the first two letters: "Aleph" (cow) and "Beth" www.putlearningfirst.com/langu… (house) as in "Bethlehem" (house of bread) and Bethesda (house of grace). Much later, these letters became known as "Alpha" and "Beta".

Even better proof that "great minds think alike" is how two separate ancient cultures both came up with the same way of writing 1, 2, 3.

The Chinese simply wrote "-", one horizontal line to mean one; "=", two stacked horizontal lines to mean two; and three stacked horizontal lines to convey the meaning, "three".

Now look at our numerals: 1, 2, 3. Put 1 on its side, and it's identical to the Chinese character -. Now, write two horizontal lines = very very rapidly, and notice that you tend to connect the right side of the top line to the left side of the bottom line. What you've written looks like a Z... or a 2. Now, write three horizontal lines rapidly, and you'll notice that once again, you tend to connect them with "lazy" lines where your hand didn't lift completely off the paper. What you've written looks a bit like an E or a 3!

As Europeans and Americans, we call these numerals "Arabic"... but that's truly unfair, because the Middle East learnt them from India. Yup-- Indian folk have every right to turn apoplectic when we call these numbers "Arabic". We do our maths in INDIAN, dang it!

---A little about names---

In fact, Europeans and Americans tend to do a LOT of that mis-naming, and we're pathetic at correcting the error later on, when the mistake becomes blindingly obvious.

Take, for example, the native Americans, who have every right to be p*ssed off that we still call them "Indians". How many hundreds of years ago did we figure out that the New World was not India??? Even worse, why does an entire continent filled with dozens of separate long-lived cultures have to be called by the name of an obscure cartographer, Amerigo (America) Vespucci? It'd be a thousand times more accurate to call America something like "The Iroquois Nation and Others", or "The Land of Stolen and Genocidally Acquired Property".

Almost as bad is that most American of foods, the turkey. When Europeans first encountered it, they thought-- you guessed it-- that they were standing somewhere within the Turkish borders, half a world away! Apparently, not even hundreds of years of reality beating down upon our heads have been forceful enough to break through our stupidity and momentum.

Lastly, consider the poor Californians. Was their state named after a famous resident Caliph? Nopers, no such luck. An elected member of the US government in Washington at the time JUST HAPPENED TO LIKE THE NAME. He'd read it in www.debbiesthemes.com/calhisto… a book of fiction, written in the year 1500, about an island of women, and suggested it as the name for several territories-becoming-states before California's turn came. I writhe when I think what might've happened if a U.S. senator had liked the name "Lilliputia".
  • Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
  • Reading: "Free Lunch" by David Cay Johnston
  • Watching: Thailand circling the drain
  • Playing: Expat, The Lifestyle
  • Eating: diet fake iceceam
  • Drinking: chilly icewater.
The past ten days, I didn't wear shoes. Most days, I spent more than 5 hours in the water. I was scuba diving in the Similan Islands with friends.
It was weird, being out of range for email, cellphones...even radar. Weird in a good way.

Endless laughter: that's the sound of scuba. It's bubbles rushing under your jaw, up behind your ears, and up, up to the surface where they burst like freshly opened champagne.
  • Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
  • Reading: "Fast Food Nation"
  • Watching: Thailand circling the drain
  • Playing: Expat, The Lifestyle
  • Eating: strawberry sorbet
  • Drinking: chilly icewater.
I think, "If only Japan didn't have winters, I'd go back there." If, for example, I could get a job on Ishigaki island, a rural semi-tropical Japanese island, I'd leave today!

Life in Thailand is a bit like living in a poorly furnished trashcan. What tour agents tell you is utter hogwash: the "tropical paradise" is defoliated, overbuilt, trash-strewn, and rude as hell. The "land of smiles" is the invention of a tour agent; the reality is "the land of the melon-drop" where foreigners are fleeced.

To the Westerner's way of thinking, prices should drop when customers are few. Yet, in the current global economic meltdown, with Thailand being labeled by the BBC as one of the top 5 most dangerous places in the world, Thais are RAISING prices. Perhaps in Thai thinking, it's best to raise prices so that fewer customers doesn't equal a loss in overall profits.

Phuket markets itself to tourists as the land of cheap beer, bribeable police, rentable girls, and Thai kickboxing training camps. It's no surprise, then, that the Western tourists coming here are... not the most peace-loving, generous, civil representatives of Western culture. Further, it's no surprise that Thais in Phuket see these tourists and think "Westerners are a pack of lazy, rich, rude jerks".

Thais here are paid about US$ 300 or less per month to work 10- and 12-hour days with demanding Western customers.

The language barrier is steep, and cultural differences are huge, causing lots of misunderstandings.

On a daily basis, I think it's the roadside trash-- especially its smell-- that bothers me most. In this land hoping for tourists, an hour's drive through Phuket town forces one to grimace and hold one's breath about 5 times. It gives no moments of "Ahhh, what a nice smell!"  Compare this to ultra-clean Japan, when the only bad smell seems to come when neighbors are burning leaves...and the daily GOOD smells coming from the ubiquitous corner bakeries seem to have about 500 calories per  delicious, wonderful lungful.
  • Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
  • Reading: "Fast Food Nation"
  • Watching: Thailand circling the drain
  • Playing: Expat, The Lifestyle
  • Eating: almonds and berries-- healthy snacks
  • Drinking: chilly icewater. (Now's the hottest season)
On May 6th, my best friend died.

I expected it; so did he. For almost all the three years I knew him, he'd been dying of cancer.  In fact...that's why I knew him.

He was the originator of Tessellations.org and was looking for a co-webmaster who would one day replace him.  That was me.

Tessellations.org is a website dedicated to showing tessellations (jigsawpuzzle-like art popularized by M. C. Escher). The site attracts between 8,000 and 18,000 visitors PER DAY... an astounding number.

It's also the top entry when one googles for "tessellations", and the #4 entry when one googles for "tessellation".

Most of the visitors are art and math teachers and students.

Not bad for a site that's run as a hobby!

I haven't decided how to memorialize David's passing. I'm considering running a contest (with prizes and adult/teen/kid divisions), or turning some of his designs and mine into a coloring book for kids.
  • Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
  • Reading: Fahrenheit 9/11 companion book
  • Watching: Sicko, by Michael Moore
  • Playing: Expat, The Lifestyle
  • Eating: almonds and berries-- healthy snacks
  • Drinking: chilly icewater. (Now's the hottest season)
A few publishing groups in Thailand and Viet Nam have asked me how they can purchase publication rights of my existing art, for printing in their magazines and newspapers.

It's pretty simple:

1) send me an email listing the images that you'd like to reproduce in your publication. Be sure to mention the dpi, file format (psd, png, jpg), and exact size of the final print.

I'm at sethness at~mark tessellations dot org.

Alternatively, you can send that message to me (sethness) via DeviantArt's free site-mail (after registering as a member of DeviantArt.com--which is also free).

2) I'll send you an invoice via PayPal.
Prices run roughly US$70 / 2000 Thai Baht for one-time newspaper or magazine print publication rights, with 6 months' exclusivity in your country.
This is for a single appearance in a single publication. The editor amd layout staff may NOT cut up the art into several smaller illustrations, nor use thumbnails/excerpts without prior permission (and very likely a small additional cost).

3) After I receive PayPal payment, I'll email you with the art in 300 dpi format, and/or or a link to download a high-resolution version.

Easy, isn't it!

--Sethness
  • Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
  • Reading: The Thunderbolt Kid-Bill Bryson
  • Watching: Sicko, by Michael Moore
  • Playing: Motherload Unlimited, from MLU.aceboard.com
  • Eating: almonds and berries-- healthy snacks
  • Drinking: chilly icewater. (Now's the hottest season)
Today, I stumbled on some fascinating history:
(Link thing: www.charlesrknight.com/index.h… )
Charles R. Knight (1874-1953) was THE American artist for museums and zoos between 1900 and 1953. He was especially considered THE top artist when scientists, museums, and zoos wanted depictions of extinct dinosaurs and other long-gone animals.

He was LEGALLY BLIND.  
He had a detached cornea in his right eye, and astigmatism. Since childhood, he was only able to see with specially-made glasses. When he painted or sketched, his left eye did all the work, and was only a few inches from the canvas.

If you were a child between 1900 and 1980, or ever went to an American museum of natural history (especially the one in New York City), you almost certainly have seen his work several times. Here are two prime examples:
1) T-rex and Triceratops: www.charlesrknight.com/Enlarge…
2) Leaping Laelaps: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:La…

(Note that the "leaping..." picture is of high-energy dinosaurs. He painted it way, way waaaay before anyone else was picturing dinosaurs as anything but slow-moving zombie-like brutes.)

Of course, this is inspirational to all artists, and anyone with a handicap.

This should also inspire us, a bit, to try OUR hand as artist-naturalists.
There's a fine, fine showcase for our work (ummm... deviantArt.com, yes, but this other one too): Wikipedia.

Wikipedia, the popular free online encyclopedia, uses copyright-free or copyleft art, for obvious reasons. This means that often their art--photographs or illustrations of animals living and dead-- is ...errr... (Help me out here, I need a euphemism for "crappitudinousitoustuous"!) or simply unavailable.

Look at Wikipedia's illustration of a "Diploceraspis", for example: ( link thingy: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:di… )
LOOKING AT THIS IS MANDATORY!  Click NOW! :D

Diploceraspis is a relatively simple animal to draw or paint. It's got a hammerhead/boomerang-head. It's a salamander-like extinct amphibian.
No biggie.
With all due respect to the artist who created Wikipedia's picture of a Diploceraspis...ummmm... Wikipedia should have a database of better art than that.

Does deviantArt.com have a naturalists' club? Could we make one, with the specific goal of filling Wikipedia with our (signed) depictions of animals and plants, to fill in the many gaps in their encyclopedia?

Hehehe.. it's great self-advertising, and a good deed as well.
  • Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
  • Reading: A short history of everything-Bill Bryson
  • Watching: The Daily Show / Jon Stewart
  • Playing: DVDs while drawing magazine illustrations
  • Eating: almonds and berries-- healthy snacks
  • Drinking: chilly icewater. (Now's the hottest season)
Sputnik. That's my new cat.

She's called that, because she's in orbit around me all day, all night. :)
Sadly, she likes Mark Twain... but in the same way that I like Sicilian pizza: she chews on him, leaving nothing but the "pizza bones" (crust).

I've had to set up a chair for her in the washroom, because she wants to get petted while I'm spending a penny, casting down thunderbolts, considering weighty matters, reading a book, washing my hands, powdering my nose, and casting pennies into the porcelain fountain.

She's a ginger tabby, yet most ginger tabbies are male. There's a kink in her tail, and in her heart; she's an affection-magnet and attention-greedy, but attacks fluffy toys like the beast of Cloverfield. I think she sees them as competition. The fluffy octopus-like toy I bought for her turned into a cloud of fluffy dust around her head ... in just 1 day.

I've found that in Thai culture (I live in Phuket), women expect men to woo them with MONEY and GIFTS. That totally offends me, right down to my "partner, not a pet, equality of the sexes" soul-- so I've given up on meeting a significant other here. Hence, the cat... otherwise, I'm sure I'd go mad from loneliness.

Sputnik was a homeless street cat, who wandered into a beachside restaurant and climbed up on my shoulders as though I knew her and owed her a ride home.  After attacking my backpack, in which all my drawings sat.  I should've taken that as a microcosm of her personality: she sits on my keyboard, attacks my drawing pencils, covers my Wacom digitizer tablet, sleeps on my hand, and chews on my Twain. If I had a car, I suspect she'd glue herself to the windshield.

Photos:
sethness.deviantart.com/art/Te…
sethness.deviantart.com/art/Be…
Sketch:
sethness.deviantart.com/art/Be…

Or maybe I'll call her "Bertrand Russell's Teapot".
  • Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
  • Reading: A short history of everything-Bill Bryson
  • Watching: The Daily Show / Jon Stewart
  • Playing: DVDs while drawing magazine illustrations
  • Eating: almonds and berries-- healthy snacks
  • Drinking: chilly icewater. (Now's the hottest season)
Recently, someone told me that she likes Anime and Manga because they are avenues for limitless imagination, and without rules.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing, because my own experience is utterly opposite: Anime and Manga are quite possibly the least creative, most rule-infested genre of art. I can speak with some authority on this subject because I've lived in Japan (the home of anime and manga) for seven years.
In fact, I OWN some rulebooks about manga and anime, despite avoiding that genre with the same dedication with which a diabetic avoids sugar. I've also watched interviews with manga artists as they discuss the rules of manga/anime, and hung out on a Manga-for-artists website before discovering DeviantArt.

Consider the following rule set, and ask yourself a) is it true? b) what sort of stifling rulebook and lifestyle forced these artists to stay well within the rules, only trying to break away from the pack by taking the rules of cuteness, sexiness, violence, and good-versus-evil to a new extreme?

The whole genre has become a breakfast, lunch, and dinner diet of pure sugar and saccharine, or leftovers drowned in ketchup and served up by marketing weenies who're too afraid of losing their jobs to break the rules.

-----------------------------------
Mang and Anime have become formulaic in how they abuse the reader's sense of cuteness, sexiness, adrenalin rushes based on violence, and so on. Here are the rules of this soulless "art" form.

Let me describe some of those rules that are stifling creativity in anime:

i122.photobucket.com/albums/o2…
1) "The Wink". For some reason, a huge percentage of anime cover-art in recent years includes the main female character winking. I have no idea why it's become a standard rule, but there it is.
Try this experiment: Visit this anime/manga website e-shuushuu.net/index.php?page=… and cruise around for a minute or two. Count the percentage of female characters that wink. Compare that to the percentage of male characters that wink.

2) Good characters will be handsome/beautiful. Bad characters will have some physical defect such as a scar, obesity, unusual body proportions, etc.

3) Big Eyes. Good characters, both guys and girls, will have eyes so large and watery/glassy that they must intersect behind the character's too-small nose. No wonder they're constant crying -- having a pair of eyeballs that intersect like the olympic rings logo must be painful. Conversely, evil characters will have normally proportioned eyes with a tendency to squint.
i122.photobucket.com/albums/o2…

4) "Chibi" characters will have bodies with these specific distortions (similar to the "cute" proportions of a baby): big head, big chest and belly. Short arms and legs. Ultra-small hands and feet. Here're some tutorials: www.polykarbon.com/tutorials/c… chibiland.windy-goddess.net/ho…
i122.photobucket.com/albums/o2…

5) Good characters will be followed around by hyper-hypercute loyal "chibi" pets www.otaku-j.jp/jpmovie/ebaysup… that are somewhat alien, sentient, and not particularly good speakers.
i122.photobucket.com/albums/o2…

6) No character will resort to therapy, objectivity, mediation, trials, laws, or understanding. Instead, they will refuse to think about anything but how to punch, kill, and have sex with their opponents. Ummm.... not usually in exactly that order.

The love of democracy and peace will not come up-- instead, it's all about inherited power, princess-this and king-that, and bloodletting as the road to "good" guys' victory. Yup... the best parts of civilization somehow stand in the way of a typical manga storyline.

In romance stories, the male and female lead characters will either be insanely devoted and selfless to the point of standing out in rain and snow in front of their beloved's house until the coroner comes by and says "I don't DO wooden indians. Got any REAL dead people around here?", or obtusely selfish and subjective on a level that would get even a 3-year-old spanked and sent to her room for some alone-time. Both extremes are somehow considered sexy and romantic.

7) Swords are preferable to any other weapon. 2nd most popular are laserlike weapons. (Swords must be larger and heavier than the human body holding them.)


8) Female lead characters will look like 10-year-olds with Dolly Parton's thoraxic stalactites. Think "Barbie(tm), 10 years old" but with the 20-year-old Barbie's plastic boob job. www.legnome.fr/bd.html

i122.photobucket.com/albums/o2…
Or, occasionally they'll be normal-looking beautiful children of prepubescent age, but engage in an adult romance at an age when real boys and girls think the opposite sex is "yucky" and "has cooties". (Somebody call the cops and child welfare services!)

9) Battle Dress: Women and girls will wear a minimum of clothing, even when going into battle with sharp knives.  Their preferred battle uniform will have massive shoulder pads but bare thighs, abdomen, knees, and biceps. Yet, somehow, no bad guys ever chop at that thigh and arm skin-- it's always unscarred. (Bad guys, on the other hand, are only allowed to have X-shaped scars, and always on a cheek or through an eyebrow.) Footwear will be either childish or sexy-impractical (barefoot or high heels, for example), never sensible choices for running across broken terrain.
i122.photobucket.com/albums/o2…

Their preferred non-battle uniform is the Sailor Schoolgirl uniform of Japan with a bare navel and ultra-short skirt (e.g., Sailor Moon), and a mystery wind that always flips their hair and one corner of the skirt, even when the characters are unconscious, lying on the floor in a windless room. Second-most-popular is some sort of revealing age-inappropriate swimsuit, even when attending military formal meetings.
i122.photobucket.com/albums/o2…
Warrior-girls elpinoy.deviantart.com/art/the… wear lots of swishy stuff like sleeves, ribbons and hair -- perfect for getting caught on things, blinding the whirling warrior-girl, and generally getting in the way.

10) Male leads will be troubled, sexually attracted to the nearest cute female character, and physically either follow the "cute" rules or have www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Pagoda… tiny heads and waists but massive shoulders created by plastic surgeons with unlimited access to www.bens.at/images/S850.jpg football shoulderpads.  Male characters' hair will be stuck forever in the "big spiky hair" mode. Even typhoon-force winds and jumps into lakes will not affect mens' hair spikes.

11) Successful TV anime will sell something violent or hypercute, and cheap and valueless, like Dragonball Z and Pokemon trading cards or My Little Pony pink pony dolls.

12) Successful TV anime characters will mutate into slightly different-looking characters if their popularity continues past the 3-year mark. This is to force fans into buying version b, c, d... of the doll, poster, gameboy, and trading-card crap that they already regret buying. Four prime examples would be "Pokemon" (additional character sets), "Ultraman", Power Rangers/Gao Rangers, and "Kamen Rider".

13) Nobody's a democrat. Hence, nobody questions the wisdom in letting a child www.otaku-j.jp/jpmovie/anime2/… lead an army www.otaku-j.jp/jpmovie/anime2/… because of inheritance or the orders of a god/king/princess/queen/prince. Likewise, nobody questions why an inexperienced, unelected "good guy" or patently evil character is permitted to be a "prince/king/princess/queen" with immense political power. Even the successful outcome of a story will not lead to the victory of basic democratic ideals.

14) www.otaku-j.jp/jpmovie/anime2/… www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Pagoda… No matter how heavy and big a sword looks compared to the character wielding it, the character can whip it around faster than a feather on a rocket, and never tires of carrying it. Neither do the characters fall over, or have any problem with the damned things banging against their legs and backsides as they climb, ride, walk, sit, or squat over latrine trenches.

15) Female lead characters will have the musculature of a kitten or a veal calf, and yet be able to leap tall buildings and carry a sword that outweighs her. The weighty sword will never cause her to lean nor her arm to tire. Take a look at these perfect examples.
First, a pink-haired, prepubescent, pedophile posterchild with a sword bigger than her leg (from here at DeviantArt): www.deviantart.com/print/20942…  Heck, she even has the "mystery wind" and "long flinging hair to tangle herself in"!
Second, a pencil sketch of a clearly undermuscled little kid with a sword bigger than her whole body: www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Pagoda…

16) "Elves" and "Faeries" are normally proportioned people, except for ludicrous pointy dog ears that stretch out at 90% angles to their heads, like wilting & poorly glued-on Spock ears.

17) Characters will have unexpected and unnatural hair colors. Teenagers will have white or gray hair without attracting scorn or comment; any character may have green, blue, or violet hair. The only possible explanation for this phenomenon is that when all your characters are beautiful and stylized in exactly the same way, hair color, wardrobe, and pets are the only way to differentiate between them.
i122.photobucket.com/albums/o2…

18) "Evil" characters will have sharp canines...twice the usual number.

19) Eyebrows of boys under the age of 7 will be permanently angry/concentrating. On handsome strong lead characters the eyebrows will be so immobile and inexpressive that one wonders if they're concrete, bo-tox, or mannequin parts. On handsome androgenous/effeminate male romantic leads, the whole face will be basically a woman's face with a man's spiky or emo haircut. images.google.com/search?q=boy+manga+characters&um=1

Conversely, all good girls' and womens' eyebrows will always be up in the middle and down at the sides, like the eyebrows of bewildered puppies looking plaintively at the sky.

20) Male evil characters (never male good guys) are permitted to have a purple/violet color scheme, even to the point of wearing violet lipstick. They will also talk in lisping high-pitched voices. This is to trigger the neanderthal audience into a homophobic revulsion against the bad guy. Likewise, bad guys are frequently overweight, drooling and ugly. Heroes, conversely, must have idealized physical proportions & avoid messiness. Yup... anime/manga are fueling our most shallow prejudices.
  • Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
  • Watching: The Daily Show / Jon Stewart
  • Playing: DVDs while drawing magazine illustrations
  • Eating: almonds and berries-- healthy snacks
  • Drinking: purple carrot juice
Fellow Deviants, please (pretty please) enter the www.worldOfEscher.com/contest World Of Escher tessellation-art contest. Entering is free. Prizes (Escher-related gifts from the Escher giftshop, usually) are given (after 6 months of public voting) twice a year to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place entrants.

For the past 10 years, the contest has been super-popular, usually getting over 250 applicants. However, most of the entrants are kids under 15 years old.
The people running the contest have said that they will create a SEPARATE division for ADULTS if there are more than 15 entrants over high-school age (17-ish), so PLEASE submit your art to teh contest.

Winners' art is placed in a high-profile permanent "hall of fame" gallery on their website.

Contest art should be <100k image files (JPEG, for example) attached to an email containing the short entry-form available at the site.

Again--
1) IT'S FREE
2) IT'S HIGH-PROFILE
3) There are REAL PRIZES, and not just metal cups that rust on a shelf.

Go for it!
  • Listening to: David Wilcox ( dot com )
  • Reading: The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins
  • Watching: The Daily Show / Jon Stewart
  • Playing: with glue and pencils to make Escher spheres
  • Eating: Picnic veggies, azuki-bean ice
  • Drinking: Water. Chilled, it's amazingly tasty.
This fortnight, I've had to shove almost every part of my life onto the "back burner", because of an exciting new priority-- with a horrific deadline.

An American toy manufacturer has asked me to design some tessellation toys! Fun, fun, fun!

The first deadline is remarkably soon, though, and the requirements are tough-- to control manufacturing costs, and adhere to a very strict manufacturing method, and create original, entertaining tessellations in a rather weird (but secret, for now) style-- nyyyargh!!! It's been a week for all-you-can-eat aspirin. Tessellation is never easy-- and with added constraints, it's like trying to do ballet while juggling.

So-- I haven't forgotten my commitment to making a "pro-evolution tessellation morph", and to making a tessellation tutorial (particularly for my friend Hazelly).... but I had to delay those projects for a week or two. Sorry!
  • Listening to: Pachabel's Canon in D (various versions)
  • Reading: The Blind Watchmaker
  • Watching: The Daily Show / Jon Stewart
  • Playing: with paper and pen to make Escher spheres
  • Eating: Picnic veggies. It's cherryblossom season.
  • Drinking: Water. Chilled, it's amazingly tasty.
I've joined a few clubs, after realizing that the clubs are the major form of socializing here at deviantArt.

I've joined brights (humanists, Darwinists), SurrealSociety , MindOfLead (for bolack/white/grey art- yay!) , and the :devAthiestsClub: .  It's good to know all these like-minded people-- living as I do overseas in a non-English-speaking country, there are so few people locally with whom I can carry on deep conversations about art, science, politics and philosophy. dA, thanks. :)

I've already found some wonderful people to talk and listen to-- people like Hazelly, Jiggsokekken, Ryuzo, JenniferStarling, ShoneGold and others (whose names I can't spell without checking-- sorry for leaving you off the list, I just have a reeeally horrifically bad memory for spelling and names.).

At the online art site(s) I hung out in before discovering dA, the major form of interaction was contests. Because contest entries were necessarily secret, that led to secrecy-while-working-- no trading of tips, notes, suggestions, etc. while the art was being created. Bleah-- I much prefer to talk about the creative process while doing it.

I'm also delighted that deviantArt puts its peace-sign out so prominently, and permits political,  nude, and religious art. I was rather tired of the other site(s), where the FAQs would say "none of that, please!"  

Look around my gallery, and you'll see many Farside-like cartoons titled "NSFW" (Not Safe for Work), whether the theme is spicy or not.

It was frustrating at those other sites, to hold back on the things I care about most. That was especially true in these troubled times when #ahem# liberal, scientific, etc. views are so often stifled and attacked by puritans and neo-con-men. Worse, at those other sites, I found that even if the FAQs would say "no politics, religion, etc.", that usually meant it was OK for the majority religions or political groups to bash everyone else, while the converse would land the minority member in hot water.

So, again, THANKS, dA. It's good to be here.


:iconmindoflead:
Sethness

P.S. When leaving comments, please leave Advice, 2nd Opinions, and Suggestions about what might be wrong/worth-fixing/etc.  I appreciate the compliments, of course, but compliments are like candy-- nice for spice, but I'll improve faster on a more bitter diet.
  • Listening to: Pachabel's Canon in D (various versions)
  • Reading: The Blind Watchmaker
  • Watching: The Daily Show / Jon Stewart
  • Playing: with paper and pen to make Escher spheres
  • Eating: Picnic veggies. It's cherryblossom season.
  • Drinking: Water. Chilled, it's amazingly tasty.