Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No Trespassing: Violators will be eaten

Komodo dragons kill Indonesian fisherman

I don't mean to make light of a personal tragedy, but these animals have killed a number of people (mostly tourists) over the years:

(CNN) -- An Indonesian fisherman has been killed by Komodo dragons after he was attacked while trespassing on a remote island in search of fruit, officials said Tuesday.

The article mentions a particularly hair-raising account of stranded scuba divers who had to fend off the reptiles before they were rescued.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I genuflect at their geekitude

Getting Their Kirk On

Trek fetishists have a new toy:

...Serious Trekkies have long fashioned copies of their favorite costumes and props, and, back in the ’70s and ’80s, a few even put together homemade knockoffs of the captain’s chair, using reference materials like the “Starfleet Technical Manual” and “U.S.S. Enterprise Bridge Blueprints...”

Big deal, who has not done that? But it gets better:

...But lately fans like Mr. Veazie have been building or buying...sophisticated versions of the command module from which James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner, ordered “Ahead, warp factor six.” Moreover, they are making them the centerpiece of their homes, thus conquering what is for them a final frontier of domestic d├ęcor...The spread of digital video also helped the cause, allowing hobbyists to freeze-frame shots of the chair and scrutinize it from every angle. On message boards like Dewback Wing A.S.A.P.: A Site About Props, they swap and compare screen grabs, measurements, schematics and spare parts...

Wow! This is weapon-grade time-wasting here! But what good is the chair, some clueless people might think it a useless dust gatherer. Oh Ye of little faith:

...Some watch TV in theirs, or simply loll, and some seem to find the chair an empowering place from which to deal with others. “When we have a little family powwow — I have four children — I sit in it to lay down the law,” said Mr. Boyd, the auto parts manager.

You see, there's a spiritual aspect to all this! And this fellow is really following his bliss:

“...You sit in the chair,” Mike Paugh said, “and you’re watching an episode and pushing buttons and you find yourself saying, Fire photon torpedoes or whatever, and you’re making the sounds yourself because I don’t have the sound effects yet...”

But for some, it's a tougher path. One guy's wife just does not get it:

...To his regret, he must strike those poses in his home office. “My wife is not big on it,” he said. “I’ve actually been threatened with divorce if it comes into the living room...

I can see it now:

"You brought THAT into the living room," she shouts, "It's over! I'm out of this nuthouse!"

"But honey," he says, "if it's over, if you're out of here..."

"I want a DIVORCE!"

"If you're out of here, if it's over...if we GET A DIVORCE...!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mythical creature questions authority

A Dirty Pun Tweaks China’s Online Censors

Anyone having any doubt about the power of myth has not met the "grass-mud horse". This mythical creature has caused a sensation in China, presenting a headache for the country's heavy handed internet censors:

...A YouTube children’s song about the beast has drawn nearly 1.4 million viewers. A grass-mud horse cartoon has logged a quarter million more views. A nature documentary on its habits attracted 180,000 more...The grass-mud horse is an example of something that, in China’s authoritarian system, passes as subversive behavior. Conceived as an impish protest against censorship, the foul-named little horse has not merely made government censors look ridiculous, although it has surely done that. It has also raised real questions about China’s ability to stanch the flow of information over the Internet...

Oh Grass Mud Horse, we could have used you during the Bush years!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hail Pachamama

Bolivian Constitution Mentions Earth Deity

Is Bolivia a trendsetter? If you are going to include religion in your constitution, at least embrace early as well as later gods:

...Bolivia has eliminated any mention of the Roman Catholic Church in its new constitution, and instead recognizes the Christian God and Pachamama, the Andean earth deity...

Roman Catholicism is out, but "the Christian God" is in! Not only that, but now the constitution is shared by "Pachamama", a deity I'm sad to say I've never heard of.

...Adoption of the governing document was celebrated in El Alto, one of Bolivia’s poorest cities. Festivities included a military parade and a ritual by an Aymara priest, who burned a llama fetus as an offering to Pachamama (or Mother Earth) to invoke divine protection for the charter.

Maybe this is where my rituals have been going wrong: I've not burn any llama fetuses! Heh!

President Evo Morales adds:

“...I believe strongly in the rites and in Mother Earth (Pachamama). But, of course, I am a Catholic and an admirer of Jesus Christ...”

This certainly is an interesting example of a local culture's expression of traditional religion, as well as their embracing and interpretation of later Christianity. Seems very polytheistic to me. After googling around a bit, I found a 'Pachamama Alliance' concerned with rain forest issues. Cool.