On one wall is a "Star Trek" poster with investigators' faces substituted for the Starship Enterprise crew. But even that alludes to a dark fact of their work: All but one of the offenders they have arrested in the last four years was a hard-core Trekkie. Det. Constable Warren Bulmer slips on a Klingon sash and shield they confiscated in a recent raid. "It has something to do with a fantasy world where mutants and monsters have power and where the usual rules don't apply," Bulmer reflects. "But beyond that, I can't really explain it."A gallant researcher at BoingBoing did a bit more digging:
I have now spoken to Detective Ian Lamond of the Child Exploitation Section of the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit and he claims they were misquoted, or if that figure was given it was done so jokingly. Nevertheless, he does claim that a majority of those arrested show "at least a passing interest in Star Trek, if not a strong interest." They've arrested well over one hundred people over the past four years. Det. Lamond claims they can gauge this interest in Star Trek by the arrestees' "paraphenalia, books, videotapes and DVDs." I asked if this wasn't simply a general interest in science fiction and fantasy, such as Star Wars or Harry Potter or similar. He said, while there was sometimes other science fiction and fantasy paraphenalia, Star Trek was the most consistent and when he referred to a majority of the arrestees being Star Trek fans, it was Star Trek specific.Still tres creepy.
Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) Persists in Continental North America Abstract: The ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), long suspected to be extinct, has been rediscovered in the "Big Woods" region of eastern Arkansas. Visual encounters during 2004 and 2005, and analysis of a video clip from April 2004, confirm the existence of at least one male. Acoustic signatures consistent with Campephilus display-drums also have been heard from the region. Extensive efforts to locate birds away from the primary site remain unsuccessful, but potential habitat for a thinly distributed source population is vast (over 220,000 ha).The ivory-billed woodpecker was sometimes known as "The Lord God Bird", because (it's said) early Southerners would exclaim, "Lord God!" when they saw one. Something to see. The video of the Lord God Bird is available from the supplemental materials page to the Science article. I shan't direct link to it, because I suspect the AAAS's website will be slashdotted shortly by anxious amateur ornithologists. I've seen it, and yeah, that's a big damn bird all right. More trained observers had this to say:
Of at least 15 reported visual encounters between 11 February 2004 and 14 February 2005, seven contained sufficient detail for the authors to treat them as authentic. In addition to the two February 2004 sightings described above, these were: 5 April 2004 (James M. Fitzpatrick saw overflight along a lake edge; with naked eye at 100 m he noted large size, broad white trailing edges of wings, and steady "loon-like" flight of otherwise black woodpecker); 10 April 2004 (Melinda LaBranche saw overflight at site of 5 April sighting; through 10-power binoculars at 100 m she observed broad white trailing edges of wings and narrow red crescent on rear of folded crest); 11 April 2004 (Melanie Driscoll watched a large woodpecker fly across a 50-m gap in the forest where she was stationed, and through 10-power binoculars at 120 m she saw broad white trailing edge of wings, white line extending from wings up the long neck, and small flash of red on crest, with head otherwise black); 9 June 2004 (Harrison saw a large woodpecker flush from near the base of a bald-cypress, Taxodium distichum, about 15 m in front of him, and with naked eye he noted broad white trailing edges to wings, especially visible as the bird swooped upward to land; 14 February 2005 (Casey Taylor heard double-rap display drums for 30 min near power-line cut and then saw a large black-and-white woodpecker crossing the cut while being mobbed by American crows, Corvus brachyrhynchos. Through 8-power binoculars at 80 to 120 m, she noted broad white trailing edges to wings, long neck with white stripe running its full length, and black head with long bill.)As I've mentioned before, I'm not the birder of this blog. But I still find this incredible news. (Perhaps the birder of this blog will copy some of his comments from Jim Henley's website and repost them here?)
The scandal came to light in February last year when a regional court in Germany found a Ukrainian-born man guilty of trafficking in people and of smuggling. The court found that laxness in issuing German visas in Ukraine - about 300,000 between 2000 and 2002 - had made it easier for the defendant, Anatoli Barg, to commit his offenses.Over time, it came to light that not only the embassy in Kiev but also German embassies in other (mostly former GUS) countries had been advised to "rather err on the side of freedom of travel" than applying stricter criteria when issuing visas. Ex-Ambassadors claim to have informed the ministry of foreign affairs in Berlin about the apparent misuse of those visas by traffickers, criminals and drug dealers, but no action was taken. Fischer, as the head of the foreign office, is not only nominally responsible for any sloppiness that might have occured in his ministry, he also has to explain why he didn't react to any of the faxes and emails that diplomats said they have sent him.
One of the chivalrous rules of the vendetta enacted that it could not be prosecuted against anyone accompanied by a woman, a child, or a foreigner. Thus, if a man who knew he was the object of a vendetta -- who was, as they said, 'in blood' -- allowed himself to be accompanied by one of these three persons he was regarded as a coward, disqualified, and shunned by the entire community. This sometimes led to strange situations. One evening our Legation doctor, Zucchi, was summoned for an urgent operation. A public-spirited man, he would undertake any journey, however distant, by night, in winter, in the depths of the mountains, to tend the sick. On the return journey, the young man who had summoned him suddenly began shrieking at the top of his voice: 'I'm with the Italian doctor! I'm with the Italian doctor! And my mother is ill'. 'Why do you shout like that?' said Zucchi. 'We're crossing the territory of a family with whom we are "in blood". I'm warning them not to attack you by mistake. And also, so they won't think I'm a coward.'
On the city boundary where Cavaja Street begins, the ground rises and some way up the hill a barracks was being built. Perhaps this was why the road here was better maintained (in winter, most of Tirana became a sea of mud); it was a part of the town to which we often came for an afternoon walk. During one of these, my wife saw a peculiar object lying in a ditch at the side of the road; it proved to be a human corpse, a man half-immersed in a pool of water. This was a relatively busy street, and we were surprised that no one paid any attention to it. When we returned the following day, it was still there, in exactly the same position. The local people were unable to explain what had happened; much gesticulation and a flood of Albanian dialect told us nothing. The mystery was solved that evening by Colonel Sereggi, the King's ADC. 'He must have been killed in a vendetta,' he explained. 'Only members of his family are allowed to bury him. If anyone else touches the body, that person becomes immediately involved in the vendetta with the family who killed him. In the same way, if he had only been wounded, only members of his family could have tended him.' Such was our initiation into that strange and complex institution known in Albania as the vendetta.Actually, as in Italy, such things were known as matters of blood: gjak.
Since the days of the ancient Turkish empire the honesty of the Albanians has been proverbial. A woman could, it is said, cross the length and breadth of the land loaded with gold and jewelry, and no-one would life a finger against her. So honest are they that, again according to tradition, it is unnecessary to close the front door at night. After nearly three years in Albania, I could confirm some of this from personal experience.
Some teams consider the test results critical. Others say they dismiss the results, except for players who score at the extremes. What's an extreme? Well, former Bengals punter and Harvard grad Pat McInally scored a perfect 50 -- the only NFL player known to do so -- while at least one player, it is rumored, scored a 1.(Internal link mine.)
There exists a lone bisexual world conqueror; if moral, he has a romance with a woman but has difficulties siring children with her; if immoral, he rapes and restricts the fertility of others in his conquest.Syd Webb proposes functionalist reasons for parts of this. We want our heroes to have feet (or other organs) of clay. David Allen on one hand sees a connection to Jung's idea of the archetype, specifically the Fisher King, and on the other suggests that the well-known phenomenon of sexually active characters being the first to die in American horror movies and crime dramas is related. James B. brings up the possibility that Alexander is the vir classicus of this motif, so to speak. Mitch H. compares Saul, the failed king, to David, the hero king, and suggests that the flawed conqueror stands in the same relation to Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Faces". Doug is not entirely convinced. Specifically, he dislikes the lack of rigor this type of analysis can be subjected to. Is 'bigendered' the same as 'bisexual'? Noel Maurer is confused, even though he is a long-time heavy reader of science fiction. Do structures even exist? Many people suggested other historical figures in addition to Alexander. (I will bring up a few that weren't mentioned: George Washington, the childless "Father of His Country"; Elizabeth I of England, with "the heart and stomach of a king"; and Lord Byron, the bisexual clubfooted model of the Romantic anti-hero.) Doug also wonders if such a pattern would exist in non-Western science fiction. Specifically, wouldn't the world conqueror be extremely fertile? (No word from Claudia, even though she's read just as much SF as either Doug or I have.) I think that does justice to the main line of the discussion.
The Pure Product of America: But Carlos, isn't this French theory? Of no relevance to anything other than itself? I know you, you like reading about epicycles too. What can you use this for?Well. Hm. I'd say that structuralism can be an interesting organizing principle that can sometimes lead to new insights. I wouldn't call it the Holy Grail of human thought or anything, but here's an example. I recently read Kate Elliott's novel Jaran. It's a culture clash anthropological romance, which means it's science fiction. A female offworlder and a complex yet fundamentally moral nomadic warlord fall in love; wackiness, as is said, ensues. The set-up is formulaic, but there are unusual incidental details. The warlord, a fellow named Ilya Bakhtiian, is poised to conquer his world; and he and the heroine have difficult fertility issues. Now, Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor -- which I will take a wild guess is somewhat familiar to certain readers of this blog -- is also a culture clash anthropological romance, where a female offworlder and a complex yet fundamentally moral warlord fall in love. We later learn that Aral Vorkosigan has already conquered a world, and the fertility issues in his marriage drive every subsequent book. (Whew, no spoilers.) The specific internal explanation of these common elements differs markedly: there's an immunological incompatibility (somewhat like the Rh factor) between Ilya Bakhtiian and Tess Soerensen; on the other hand, Cordelia Naismith is exposed to a teratogenic chemical weapon while pregnant. And these differences flow from deep within the author's backstory. Of course, the publication dates for these two books are 1994 and 1986 respectively, so it's possible that Shards of Honor influenced the basic plot of Jaran. This is where structuralism comes in. Are there other novels that contain this structure, which pairs infertility with conquering the world? And if so, how do they develop it? The first one that came to mind was M.J. Engh's Arslan. In this one, a Turkmeni general during the Cold War manages to use the logic of Mutually Assured Destruction to take over the world, and then renders the world's population infertile for crackpot ecological reasons. There are commonalities in unusual incidental details. All three conquerors have strong affinities to Russia and central Asia: Ilya Bakhtiian (the nomads in Jaran nearly all have Russian names, although their language seems to be more Altaic); Aral Vorkosigan, with the Aral Sea referenced in his given name, and his last name derived from Vor + Kosigan ~ Kosygin; and General Arslan of Turkmenistan. But, instead of being a romance, Arslan is a dystopia. The United States is conquered, and the novel begins with Arslan brutally raping two Illinois high school students as a show of his power. (Incidentally, one of the students raped is male; and all three world conquerors are bisexual.) So the romance is reversed, inverted. Instead of the moral conqueror, we have an amoral one; instead of love, rape; and instead of the conqueror's personal fertility being diminished, the world's fertility is diminished instead. It's a classical structuralist inversion. Arslan was first published in 1976. I don't think it influenced Shards of Honor much. Moving further afield, I think Orson Scott Card's early Ender novels might also fit this pattern.
Yesterday the greedy Snake Men of Las Vegas! Last week the Blind Mole Men of the Midwest! Last month the Brightly Tie-Dyed Ferrets of Boulder! I have problems of my own, y'know!!!Joe Garden, formerly of Richland Center, Wisconsin, is campaigning to fill Conan O'Brien's late night talk show host position in 2009. Vote Joe! Tim Harrod, who used to live in Madison, Wisconsin, is now writing for Conan himself. Mighty thews indeed. I'd be remiss in not mentioning Johnny Pez's Wojtyla fanfic at this time. Never fear, it's not slash. And finally, Bad Mama's Peanut, currently of Madison, Wisconsin, has her casts off, yay! And now she wants to eat your brains, I guess because they're good for growing bodies. I trust Bad Mama will substitute some other high phosphorus food, like fish sticks, in place of brains. Mmm, fish sticks.
The Princeton Bollingen edition of Dante's Divine Comedy (six volumes) Empire and Information: Intelligence gathering and social communication in India, 1780-1870, C.A. Bayly Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit Mother Nature: Maternal instincts and how they shape the human species, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy The collected works of Lorine Niedecker The Horse Has Six Legs: an anthology of Serbian poetry, edited by Charles SimicAnd the CDs:
Chopin: Favorite piano works, Vladimir Ashkenazy Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Moanin' Alex Skolnick Trio, Transformation Dizzy Gillespie y Machito, Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods Mary Lou Williams, Black Christ of the Andes Fela Kuti, Coffin for Head of State / Unknown SoldierI ain't complaining.
a) a cheap good quality all-area DVD player b) a collection of Romanian poetry, single or multiple authors, in a good translation or bilingual edition (preferably both) c) new luggage advice. All of mine has deteriorated markedly over the past few days. d) interesting new music. I am suffering from mp3 withdrawal. Astonish me!Thanks in advance, Carlos
1) What Diamond knows about Chinese history could be written on the back of a matchbook 2) A foray into Sino-Tibetan linguistics 3) A foray into the concept of the Sprachbund 4) Southeast Asia a millennium ago, or those swarming Indians are wiping out native cultures left and right! 5) The strange case of Taiwan 6) The Nicobar and Andamanese languages, or what the hell? 7) The historical settlement of Fujian province, or how Diamond can't be expected to read the references he gives 8) The Austronesian languages 9) Blust and Bellwood's accomplishment, and Diamond's free ride on their express train 10) Why do people take a New Guinea bird guy like Diamond seriously on subjects far outside his expertise?Mind, this only covers two chapters of Guns, Germs, and Steel. Don't even get me started on Collapse. This f