Friday, January 26, 2007

Jelly Bean

The dentist has outlawed sweets for the Verbalist. Sitting in the dentist's chair, with an interested yet leery eye to the hardware around him, the Verbalist meekly complied. The Verbalist's immediate dental fear is that of the floride tray - at his cleaning he choked and spasmed at the trays full of the unnaturally pink, bubblegum flavored goop. When I promised him a 6 month reprieve from the Tray of Chokitude he was happy to give sweets a pass, after all these were empherial future treats versus the cold reality of the dentist's office.

Since then the Verbalist has become the Moralist, preaching against the Vice of Fruit Snacks to his younger sisters. It was with a righteous glint in his eye that stepped down from the school bus the following day. He maintained the air of certain moral rectitude the short distance home and upon walking through the front door proffered to me a red jellybean.

"Here you go Mom." he said, sanctity oozing from every pore. "Mrs B-------," his teacher, "gave this to me for being so good in line, but I know I can not have candy now so I saved it for you."

I looked at the jelly bean with a warm glow of successful parenting infusing my breast. I took it, slighty sticky and lint covered and dropped it on my desk, planning a discreet removal to the trash later. I suspect that the jelly bean had been popped into his mouth before realization of it's forbidden status was remembered.

The presence of an unappreciated jelly bean, linty or no, was met with disbelief by the Littlest. "Candy!" came a wail of pleading. "Candy!" Her chubby little hand opened and closed with such ferocity that you could hear the air whoosh.

"No!" came the stern scolding of her elder brother. "You don't get it. It's bad for you." He turned wide eyes to me. "Mom she can't have it! It is too bad for her teeth!"

"She won't," I assured him. "Aren't you worried about me eating it though?" I ask wondering how high his ban on sweets would lead him to lecture."

"Oh well," he said turning and waving his hand with insouciance as he walked away, "You know what you are doing Mom."

Monday, January 22, 2007

Trip to the Moon

I always wanted to go visit the moon. I wonder how many other 31 year old mothers of three want to go?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Curing Cancer

This story linked to by Glenn has a huge "wow" factor to it. It seems we may have beat cancer.
It sounds almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their “immortality”. The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe.

It also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs.

Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks.

Again, wow. My mother in law is battling a speck of cancer in her eye, my aunt successfully battled breast cancer, and my husband has an elevated risk of prostate cancer. To think that those worries could be easily set to rest is amazing.
DCA can cause pain, numbness and gait disturbances in some patients, but this may be a price worth paying if it turns out to

be effective against all cancers. The next step is to run clinical trials of DCA in people with cancer. These may have to be funded by charities, universities and governments: pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to pay because they can’t make money on unpatented medicines. The pay-off is that if DCA does work, it will be easy to manufacture and dirt cheap.

Paul Clarke, a cancer cell biologist at the University of Dundee in the UK, says the findings challenge the current assumption that mutations, not metabolism, spark off cancers. “The question is: which comes first?” he says.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Back From Iraq

Michelle Malkin and Bryan Preston are back from Iraq where they were embeded with Forward Operating Base Justice. FOB Justice sits amidst 4 neighborhoods of various alliegences and securities. Bryan has the first of many articles here and their first video feature is up here. Bryan says:
This post is mostly about mistakes. The troops didn’t sit down with us and tick off all the mistakes that they think we have made in Iraq to date, so what follows isn’t their gripe list being published under my name. They did answer our questions forthrightly and we learned much from interviewing them and just talking with them over chow and listening to their crosstalk in the Humvees. So this post is made up of my observations after seeing the war up close and following it from afar, including mistakes, fumbles and ways forward to win–and what victory actually looks like.

It is very interesting reading and his closing paragraphs begin:
Having said all of this, Iraq is still very winnable. There are mistakes in every war. Iraq is a hideously complex environment to work in and its complexity has to be taken into account. Communities like Al Salam and Khadimiyah in Baghdad prove that at the end of the day most Iraqis value security and the chance to have a normal life above any notions of jihad and sectarianism, and we can work with most Iraqis to make their country safe. Most Iraqis want our troops there now, just not forever. Our troop morale is very high and they are focused on goals that they believe are attainable and will make Iraq stable.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dresden and Galactica

Alan Sepinwall's new column teases a bit about two shows I am anticipating greatly SciFi's Dreseden Files and the return of Battlestar Galactica:
British actor Paul Harry Dresden, a Chicago private eye who likely has some Eye of Newt in his desk drawer. Magic is real, not that many people know about or believe it, and Harry's a practicing wizard who solves his cases with potions and incantations instead of a gun and some tough talk.

Veteran "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" writers Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Hans Beimler, adapting the series of books by Jim Butcher, struggle at first to balance telling the individual cases with explaining Harry's world and backstory. There's some group called The High Council that Harry's worried about, even though no one ever says who they are, and ravens are a big deal, even though, again, no one says why. At least we get some hints that Bob (Terrence Mann), the English ghost who works in Harry's employ, didn't used to be so benign and helpful, but the cases Harry works in the first few shows drag.

There are some nice little moments early on that show the mix of the magical and mundane -- Harry bribing a wizard friend with a chicken salad, Harry being unable to do anything about a boot on his car -- but it isn't until the werewolf-themed fourth episode that "Dresden Files" finally gives you a trick worth applauding. Hopefully, there's more of that to come.

Jim Butcher is happy and the tension between Harry and Wizardly authority is important to his precarious position as the only wizard in the telephone book. Most importantly from the trailors it appears that the tongue in cheek humor of the book is carried through to the show. I hope Bob still like romance novels.

"Battlestar Galactica" seasons tend to play out like an inverse bell curve. The arc episodes at the beginning and end of each batch are the ones you remember, packed with action, suspense and advancement of all the major storylines. The shows in the middle tend toward the self-contained, which producer Ronald D. Moore has admitted isn't his strength.

The good news is that the first episode back from the break fits the show's usual pattern: a high-stakes showdown between the humans and the Cylons under the glare of a star about to go supernova. There are plenty of slaps, punches and gunshots, all of them hitting harder than normal because of how character-driven each blow is.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The "Symbolic Vote"

Jonah Goldberg's article from the 12th hit it out of the park. I don't always agree with Goldberg, he too often resorts to over expansive labels and gleeful provacatuering because he likes stirring up arguement. In this last article you get the feeling that even Goldberg has lost patience with the "I'm rubber, your glue" snipping.
Americans are torn between two irreconcilable positions on the Iraq war. Some want the war to be a success — variously defined — and some want the war to be over.

Conservatives are basically, but not exclusively, in the “success” camp. Liberals (and those further to the left) are basically, but not exclusively, the “over” party. And many people are suffering profound cognitive dissonance by believing these two positions can be held simultaneously. The motives driving these positions range from the purely patriotic to the coldly realistic to the cravenly political or psychologically perfervid.

With Wednesday night’s speech, President Bush made it clear that he will settle for nothing less than winning. He may be deluding himself, but he at least has done the nation the courtesy of stating his position, despite an antagonistic political establishment and a hostile public. What’s maddening is that the Democratic leadership cannot, or will not, clearly tell the American people whether they are the party of “end it” or “win it.”

But of course this has been the problem with the Democratic party for some time, not just since Nancy Pelosi placed the Speaker's gavel in the "hands of the children". It is the reason we do not have a President Kerry, all the domestic policy arguements are so much piffle if Iran bombs D.C. or the fracturous Shia's start fighting a Saudi backed Sunni coalition in Iraq.

Here we have a president forthrightly trying to win a war, and the opposition — which not long ago favored increasing troops when Bush was against that — won’t say what it wants.

This is flatly immoral. If you believe the war can’t be won and there’s nothing to be gained by staying, then, to paraphrase Sen. John Kerry, you’re asking more men to die for a mistake. You should demand withdrawal. But that might cost votes, so they opt for nonbinding symbolic votes.

Another Democratic dodge is the demand for a “political solution” in Iraq, the preferred talking point among Democrats these days. This is either childishly naive or reprehensibly dishonest. No serious person thinks that peace can be secured without a political solution. The question is how to get one. And nobody — and I mean nobody — has made a credible case that the Iraqis can get from A to B without more bloodshed, with or without American support.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If Anyone Can..

James Cameron has a new project coming up that fuses live action, CGI and 3-D. (ht: Jonah Goldberg) Withjust about anyone else I'd say this was a sure loser but Cameron can a) tell a story and 2) develop a technology to incorproate into his movie so that he can tell his story. For example, in The Abyss, Cameron developed the full face dive helmets with fitted microphones to facilitate the story telling. In Titanic, Mike Cameron and Panavision developed a deep-sea camera capable of withstanding the 400 atmospheres of pressure at that depth.

From the article:
Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said Monday that Cameron will start virtual photography on the sci-fi epic in April, with live-action photography commencing in August, for a summer 2009 release. It will be filmed in a new digital 3-D format for release in 3-D.

The director already has spent years in R&D on the multiple processes needed to create a $190 million hybrid of live action and animation, which he vowed will never pass the $200 million mark. "I've been the busiest unemployed director in Hollywood," he said. "We're going to blow you to the back wall of the theater in a way you haven't seen for a long time. My goal is to rekindle those amazing mystical moments my generation felt when we first saw '2001: A Space Odyssey,' or the next generation's 'Star Wars.' It took me 10 years to find something hard enough to be interesting."

Said Rothman: "Jim has taken the time to get it right, and we're taking the time to do it right. It's worth the wait."

"Avatar," with a screenplay by Cameron, will mark the director's return to the sci-fi action-adventure genre. He first wrote an 80-page treatment 11 years ago. The film centers on a wounded ex-Marine who is unwillingly sent to settle and exploit the faraway planet Pandora. He gets caught up in a battle for survival by the planet's inhabitants, called Na'vis, and falls in love with one of them. "Not only is this groundbreaking technologically, but it's an intimate story set against an epic canvas," Rothman said. "That's what Jim does. You can't compare it to anything out there. Its biggest upside, besides its revolutionary technology, is its newness. It's not a sequel to anything."

Cameron's strength is the intimate story in the midst of larger events. Even Cameron's most brainless excursions in to the action genre, and here I am thinking The Terminator franchise, revolve around the key relationships in John Connor's lives: father, mother, lover, friend. So my concern is not can James Cameron tell a good story (he can), or can James Cameron develop the technology he needs to tell a story (he can), but can James Cameron's latest obsession make enough money that the studios stick with it. I think that they are betting on another Titanic. I hope it does well.


The Verbalist turns 6 today. I am waiting for his realization that turning six does not mean he gets to automatically drive the car. I will wait for that realization in 10 years also.


The Verbalist nearly wet himself in excitement when he saw this:

The New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie will inspire him and give fits to the Verbalist's actual sensei. Heh.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Reading List

I need to put this on my reading list.
The Shakespeare Wars is about scholarly quibbles that might seem insignificant to the average reader. Rosenbaum knows this, and from the beginning, he strives to sweep others into his own euphoric orbit. “I want you to care about the argument over pleasure in Shakespeare,” he declares in the preface, and then adds, “Let me begin by describing why I care.” He launches into the first chapter with a life-changing experience he had in Stratford while watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Although Rosenbaum introduces himself as a Virgil figure, guiding the uninitiated along the paths of Shakespeare theory, he often slips into the role of Dante, a star-struck poet struggling to convey the wonders he has seen.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Frank's Falsehood

A long ways back in the archives, when Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) stood up to Eason Jordan (D-CNN) about Jordan's outrageous slander of our troops, I praised him as an honorable man. Now I wonder if he is crazy. Frank has accused the President of using hurricane Katrina as an opportunity to perform ethnic cleansing in New Orleans.

Much of the hyperbole regarding Katrina is false for anyone who cares to peruse the findings. Of the loss of life in Hurricane Katrina 58% were black to 40% white. According to the 2000 US Census the percent of the NOLA population which is black is 69%. Not terribly effective ethnic cleansing. Perhaps though Rep. Frank's mouth disconnected more profoundly from his brain than is apparant. Perhaps instead of ethnic cleansing he meant political cleansing. Except that the citizens of NOLA reelected Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco, democrats both. On the face of it the charges are rediculous, why would Representative Frank make such an outrageous claim?

The only reason I can come up with is either Frank can no longer distinguish fact from fiction, in which he should step down due to incompetence; or a cynical disregard of fact in order to pursue power in the most rapacious and unethical fashion.

Lord knows the Bush Administration made a woeful mess of their responsibilites in the aftermath of Katrina, but the more culpable parties are Nagin and Blanco, as state executives in charge of resources for the first 72 hours. I see Frank make no accusations against them. Bryan at HotAir says it best:
To accuse the sitting President of the United States of enacting ethnic cleansing on American soil is to accuse the President of the United States of committing a grave atrocity worthy of impeachment and worse. It is to equate the President of the United States with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and yes, Saddam Hussein.
With such untruthful and inflammatory accusations from figures like Frank I am surprised we haven't seen some deranged citizen try to assasinate the President.