Archive for May, 2012

May 31, 2012

Teach the Controversy

young earth creationism

Teach the Controversy‘ is the name of a campaign by the Discovery Institute (a conservative Christian think tank based in Seattle) to promote a variant of traditional creationism, intelligent design, while attempting to discredit evolution in US public high school science courses.

The central claim is that fairness and equal time requires educating students with a ‘critical analysis of evolution’ where ‘the full range of scientific views,’ evolution’s ‘unresolved issues,’ and the ‘scientific weaknesses of evolutionary theory’ will be presented and evaluated alongside intelligent design concepts like irreducible complexity. The overall goal of the movement is to ‘defeat [the] materialist world view’ represented by the theory of evolution and replace it with ‘a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.’

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May 31, 2012

Lies My Teacher Told Me

james loewen

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong’ is a 1995 book by sociologist James Loewen. It critically examines twelve American history textbooks and concludes that textbook authors propagate factually false, Eurocentric, and mythologized views of history. In addition to critiquing the dominant historical themes presented in textbooks, Loewen presents a number of his own historical themes that he says are ignored by traditional history textbooks. A revised and updated edition was released in 2008.

Loewen criticizes modern American history textbooks for containing inaccurate depictions of historical figures such as Christopher Columbus. He further criticizes the texts for a tendency to avoid controversy and for their ‘bland’ and simplistic style. He proposes that when American history textbooks elevate American historical figures to the status of heroes, they unintentionally give students the impression that these figures are part of an unattainable past. In other words, the history-as-myth method teaches students that America’s greatest days have already passed. Loewen asserts that the muting of past clashes and tragedies makes history boring to students, especially groups excluded from the positive histories.

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May 30, 2012

Doritos

doritos

Doritos is a brand of seasoned tortilla chips founded by Arch West and produced since 1964 by Frito-Lay (a division of PepsiCo). The original product was made at the Casa de Fritos location at Disneyland in Anaheim. Using unused tortillas, the company-owned restaurant cut them up and fried them and added basic seasoning. Arch West was the Vice President of Marketing of Frito-Lay at the time, and noticed the popularity.

He made a deal with Alex Foods in 1964, the provider of many items for Casa de Fritos at Disneyland, and produced the chips for a short time regionally, before it was overwhelmed by the volume, and Frito-Lay moved the production in-house to its Tulsa plant. ‘Doritos’ were first available in 1966, the first tortilla chip to be launched nationally in the United States.

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May 30, 2012

Government Simulation

diplomacy

political machine 2008

A government simulation is a game that attempts to simulate the government and politics of all or part of a nation. These games may include geopolitical situations (involving the formation and execution of foreign policy), the creation of domestic political policies, or the simulation of political campaigns. They differ from the genre of classical wargames due to their discouragement or abstraction of military or action elements.

Beyond entertainment, these games have practical applications in training and education of government personnel. Training simulations have been created for subjects such as managing law enforcement policies (such as racial profiling), the simulation of a military officer’s career, and hospital responses to emergency situations.

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May 30, 2012

Bill, the Galactic Hero

chingers

Bill, the Galactic Hero is a satirical science fiction novel by Harry Harrison, first published in 1965. Harrison reports having been approached by a Vietnam veteran who described Bill as ‘the only book that’s true about the military.’ Harrison introduced a new euphemism, ‘bowb,’ in the series to cover the vulgarity necessary to render military life accurately. It is used extensively in Bill, the Galactic Hero.

Bill is a farmboy on a small backward agricultural planet who is drugged, hypnotized, then shanghaied into the Space Troopers and sent to recruit training under a fanged instructor named Deathwish Drang. After surviving boot camp, he is transferred to active duty as a fuse tender on the flagship of the space fleet in battle with the Chingers, a small reptillian race. Injured and with the fleet almost destroyed, he fires off a shot witnessed by the admiralty and is proclaimed a hero.

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May 30, 2012

The Stainless Steel Rat

stainless steel rat

James Bolivar DiGriz, alias ‘Slippery Jim’ and ‘The Stainless Steel Rat,’ is the fictional hero of a series of humorous science fiction novels written by Harry Harrison. He is a futuristic con man, thief and all-round rascal. He is charming and quick-witted, a master of disguise and martial arts, an accomplished bank robber, an expert on breaking and entering, and (perhaps most usefully) a skilled liar. A master of self-rationalization, the Rat frequently justifies his crimes by arguing that he is providing society with entertainment; and besides which, he only steals from institutions which have insurance coverage. He displays a strong morality, albeit in a much more restricted sense than is traditional. (For example, he will happily steal, but deplores killing.)

The character was introduced in Harrison’s short story, ‘The Stainless Steel Rat,’ which was first published in 1957 in ‘Astounding’ magazine. Like other characters created by Harrison, the Rat is a speaker of Esperanto and advocates atheism. From the original publisher’s blurb: ‘…We must be as stealthy as rats in the wainscoting of their society. It was easier in the old days, of course, and society had more rats when the rules were looser, just as old wooden buildings have more rats than concrete buildings. But there are rats in the building now as well. Now that society is all ferrocrete and stainless steel there are fewer gaps in the joints. It takes a very smart rat indeed to find these openings. Only a stainless steel rat can be at home in this environment…’

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May 30, 2012

Judge Dredd

jim rugg

‘Judge Dredd’ is a comics character whose strip in the British science fiction anthology ‘2000 AD’ is the magazine’s longest running, having been featured there since its second issue in 1977.

Dredd is an American law enforcement officer in a violent city of the future where uniformed Judges combine the powers of police, judge, jury, and executioner. Dredd and his fellow Judges are empowered to arrest, sentence, and even execute criminals on the spot. The character was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra, although editor Pat Mills also deserves some credit for early development. The series explores issues such as the police state, authoritarianism and the rule of law.

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May 30, 2012

Big Dave

big dave

Big Dave is an infamous character created and written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, with artwork by Steve Parkhouse, for ‘2000 AD,’ a British science fiction comic. The character was created for ‘The Summer Offensive,’ an experiment in which the magazine was handed over to Millar, Morrison, and John Smith for eight weeks. Big Dave first appeared in prog (issue) 842 in his first story which featured Saddam Hussein trying to take over the world and turn everyone into ‘poofs’ with the aid of some scary aliens. Big Dave, ‘the hardest man in Manchester,’ manages to stop Saddam’s plan with the help of Terry Waite, English humanitarian. This story proved controversial, but the next story surpassed it.

It featured the British Royal Family as robots plus The Princess of Wales and The Duchess of York as a pair of horny drunks. The story ends with Dave in bed with both royals. A third had Dave leading a minibus full of disabled children to the football world cup final where they defeat a German team managed by Adolf Hitler. Both Morrison and Millar appeared happy with such controversy but the character did split ‘2000 AD’ fans’ opinion down the middle, with some praising it as the best series the comic had ever run, while others thought it was nothing more than puerile rubbish.

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May 30, 2012

Tharg the Mighty

carlos ezquerra

The Mighty Tharg is a recurrent character in science fiction comic ‘2000 AD,’ one of only two characters to appear in nearly every issue of the comic (the other being Judge Dredd). The main Tharg-free period in ‘2000 AD’ was when the men from Vector 13 staged a takeover (in prog [issue] 1014), while Tharg was away dealing with a crisis. Other than a spate of strips in the early 1980s, Tharg rarely appears in stories, but instead purports to be the comic’s editor.

Tharg is an alien from the fictional planet ‘Quaxxann,’ supposedly in orbit around the real-life star Betelgeuse (but he works in a British publisher’s office), with green skin and a ‘rosette of Sirius’ on his forehead. His favorite food is said to be polystyrene cups. Tharg writes the comic’s introduction, answers letters, and doles out prizes to readers (for artwork or story suggestions) – winners could choose payment either in pounds sterling or in ‘galactic groats.’ Tharg speaks mostly in English, but with various pithy Betelgusian aphorisms thrown in for color. In one episode, a Tharg suit in the comic’s office was explained as a skin that Tharg had shed.

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May 30, 2012

2000 AD

dredd

2000 AD is a weekly British science fiction-oriented comic. As a comics anthology it serializes a number of separate stories each issue (known as ‘progs’) and was first published by IPC Magazines in 1977. It has changed hands a number of times over the years; in 2000 it was bought by Rebellion Developments.

It is most noted for its Judge Dredd stories, and has been contributed to by a number of artists and writers who became renowned in the field internationally, such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Bryan Talbot, Brian Bolland, and Mike McMahon. ‘2000 AD’ has been successful launchpad for UK talent into the larger American comics market, and has also been the source of a number of film licences. Unlike earlier weekly titles, ‘2000 AD’ was based on a 6 page strip format. This gave the writers greater opportunity to develop character and meant that the artists had greater scope in designing the layout.

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May 29, 2012

Commandant Lassard

cop

Commandant Eric Lassard is the fictional head of the Metropolitan Police Academy in the 1984 film ‘Police Academy,’ as well as its six sequels. He is portrayed by actor George Gaynes (b. 1917). Lassard is rather eccentric. He is rarely seen without his many goldfish, frequently travels by golf cart, and tends to destroy things while golfing in his office. He also often loses track of his thoughts, either by beginning to pace and proceeding to walk several yards away from the group he is addressing, or by repeating the word ‘very’ (e.g. ‘have a very, very, very good day’). The commandant is a skilled billiards player, once clearing an entire table in a single turn.

Comdt. Lassard’s younger brother, Captain Pete Lassard (played by Howard Hesseman) is head of a precinct that has one of the worst crime rates in the city until the a group of Eric’s graduates eventually snag a gang that’s been terrorizing the streets. A nephew (possibly Pete’s son), Nick Lassard, is with the Miami Police, but leaves to join Eric in ‘Police Academy 6.’

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May 29, 2012

Glass Candy

italians do it better

Glass Candy is an American electronic music duo from Portland, Oregon, formed in 1996. The band consists of Ida No (vocals) and producer Johnny Jewel (synthesizers, guitar, production). While the band’s early catalog blends elements of No Wave and glam rock, their later work incorporates Italo disco. The band is known for evolving through the years since their original collaboration, and experimenting with various musical genres. No’s vocals have been likened to ’60s German singer Nico and ‘a frightened Debbie Harry or a pissed-off Lene Lovich in a haunted disco.’

Jewel has cited Marilyn Monroe films, 1980s cop show soundtracks, ‘Goblin,’ and John Carpenter soundtracks as inspirational. All music tracks are produced by basic analog equipment, without computers. The group has also said that stores could appropriately file their music ‘between Olivia Newton-John, Suicide, and Schoolly D.’ No describes their early work as ‘droney and weird.’