Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Birthday Kate Micucci!

Picture Legend:

1. Ms Kate
2. Painting
3. Little, tiny skiing Kate
4. Nazareth Area High School
5. Tower of Men
6. BangBang
7. Sand Frog
8. Sand Pig
9. Giant Sand Dog, with attached children
10. Ms. Micucci
101 Scrubs
12. Students
13. During the tough early years when Kate and Riki had to share the tub
14. “Imaginary Larry”
15. Relaxing
16. Standing around
17. Swingers
18. Playing
19. The Loophole
20. Slimed
21. Saturday night in the studio
22. Princess
23. Displaying her ability to levitate (show off)
24. This is what comes up when you Google “Kate Micucci Hot.” Kate with Brandon Hardesty
25. This is from “Kate Micucci on WikiFeet”
26. This is what pops up when you Google “Kate Micucci on a bus that has been attacked by Godzilla near Capital Records.”
27. Before the attack
28. On “The Big Bang Theory”
29. Kate going on a boat
30. Artwork
31. More artwork
32. Smile

   This morning it is my great pleasure and honor to give a great big happy birthday shout out to one of my favorite actresses, comedians, performers, musicians, and half of the mega group Garfunkel and Oates (Riki Lindhome is Garfunkel, Kate is, uuhhh, let’s see... Oates), the lovely and incomparable Ms. Kate Micucci (pronounced “my - coochie”)!
   She’s so cute... and nice, just look at those pictures above (she may be a secret ax murderer for all I know, but I’m willing to bet $5 that she isn’t).
   Kate was born on this day in 1980, which makes her, uh, carry the ought, times pi, plus a Eigenvalue Problem value, minus the dividend from Walgreens, uh, 29. Like my lovely ex-case manager Erin, Kate was born at a very early age as a small female infant in New Jersey, which is one of our 50 states here in the U.S., a state where there is no political corruption or retribution, or organized crime of any kind. 
   When she was four years old Kate’s mother began teaching her how to play the piano, or the  pianoforte if you prefer, which is a musical instrument played using a keyboard, unlike the ukulele and kazoo, instruments she would become closely associated with in later years.
   It is said that she left New Jersey when she was eight, and was raised in the city of Nazareth, which is the is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Jesus Christ was raised there as well, and it was the birthplace of the Mother Mary. Today the population is made up of Arab citizens predominantly, which is rather odd, as all of my sources indicate that the name Micucci is of  Italian origen: patronymic or the plural form of a pet form of the personal name Mico, a short form of Michele, and... what’s that Herkimer? Pennsylvania? What about Pennsylvania? Oh!
   I’ve just been informed that Kate was raised in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, rather than Israel, which actually makes a bit more sense. As most of you know Nazareth, Pennsylvania is a borough in Northampton County, in the  Lehigh Valley region of the state, and approximately 8.7 miles north of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, and 81.7 miles northeast of Lancaster (where my old navy buddy Dave Cornman lives and golfs), and for some obscure reason is considered part of the New York City metropolitan area.
   Of course the whole state is now controlled by the Amish Mafia. 
   Kate liked to play in the woods as a child, where she smoked a corn cob pipe, and where her dad shot poor defenseless deers who were dating.
   In 1998 she graduated from Nazareth Area High School, along with fellow musician Jordan White. Perhaps they knew each other.
   Kate moved on to Keytstone College (a small private, competitive, liberal arts college, where they taught Kate liberal things, like painting, making puppets, and Fine Arts (Fine art, from the 17th century on, has meant art forms developed primarily for aesthetics, distinguishing them from applied arts that also have to serve some practical function. Historically, the 5 main fine arts were painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry, with minor arts including drama and dance. Today, the fine arts commonly include additional forms, such as film, photography, conceptual art, and printmaking. -Wikipedia)) in La Plume Township, where she earned an A.A. degree (Associate in Arts degree). 
   And like many young people first out on there own Kate briefly moved to Hawaii  in order to  water the banana and pineapple plants they have there because they were thirsty.
   And after that, around 2001 or so, she moved right across the mighty Pacific to Los Angeles, and attended  Loyola Marymount University, which is a private, co-educational university in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions (“The distinctive character of Loyola Marymount is enhanced by the Jesuit and Marymount educational traditions of its founding religious orders—the Society of Jesus, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.“ How St. Joseph snuck in there I have no idea), where she earned her B.A. degree (Bachelor of Arts) in Studio Art (the making of visual art (such as painting, puppets, drawing or sculpture), contrasted to the study of art history).
   Above are some examples of Kate’s art.
   I had the pleasure recently to be interviewed for a project produced by some intrepid students from Loyola Marymount on the rooftop of the famous Charles Cobb Apartments near the corner of 5th Street and San Pedro. The beautiful Los Angeles skyline was our backdrop. I was asked questions concerning some myths and facts about homelessness, as I am recognized as a world renowned expert on that subject. 
   I told these young people that I was currently working on a piece about a former alumni of theirs, and asked them if they had ever heard of Kate. 
   “Really,” I said. “She’s an actress and comedian. A musician. Garfunkel and Oates? Plays the ukulele?”
   “Really? From LMU?”
   Apparently Kate kept a low profile as a student.
   “By any chance,” I asked, “have you heard of Riki Lindhome, her partner.”
   “Riki Lindhome? Yeah, sure.”
   “The blonde...”
   One of the guys said, “Oh yeah, she was in the movie... the shower scene in “Hell”
   “Yes,” I said. “She was in that and many other fine films as well.”
   Another guy agreed with his fellow student. “Yes, I saw that too. And don’t forget that scene in ‘The Last House on the Left.’ I’m a big fan.” 
   So Ms. Micucci, if you happen to read this, and I don’t see why you shouldn’t as I’m going to post it to your Facebook page, you know what to do. 
   You can’t let Riki get away with this unwarranted adoration. 
   Your public awaits (at least some guys from Loyola Marymount do).
   As far as we know since Kate graduated she has lived in L.A. ever since,  roaming the cities back allies in search of ex-mariachi musicians who can sing “La Bamba.” 
   In 2006 she began her long and successful acting career, and began appearing in television commercials, and guest starring on such shows as “Malcolm in the Middle,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and a recurring role on the short lived sitcom, “Four Kings” (which was one king more than the movie starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg).
   2007 saw her starring in the film short “Beat the Street,” and the T.V. shows “Campus Ladies,” and Disney’s “Cory in the House.”
   She started making movies in 2008, playing alongside Matthew Broderick in “Finding Amanda” (she was not Amanda), and with fellow ukulele player, William H. Macy in, “Bart got a Room” (which I just finished watching for the first time a few hours ago. Ms. Micucci was wonderful... and hot).
   At some point Kate and Rikki took some time off from the grueling production schedule in order to tape “It’s Time to get Laid,” which nobody can really argue with.
   And she appeared on the Conan O'Brien show, here and here.
   In 2009 she won a recurring role on the medical comedy  sitcom “Scrubs,” portraying ukulele playing lawyer Ted’s girlfriend, Stephanie Gooch. 
   And around this time, as legend has it, Kate met Riki at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles, where they were introduced to one another by the comic Doug Benson. They soon began to work together, and made Riki’s short film, “Imaginary Larry.”
   I’ll let them tell the story, here.
   Kate used one of Garfunkel and Oates first songs, “Fuck You,” on one episode of “Scrubs,” here, changing the lyrics a little.
   Here’s the new and improved version of “Fuck You.”
   And some more Garfunkel and Oates here, here, and here.
   They have a lot more songs and videos which you can check out (this message is especially for the students at  Loyola Marymount). Here’s a link to their website.
   And here’s a link to a two hour interview with Kevin Pollock. And here's Kate's website.
   Like Riki, Kate continued with her acting career after Garfunkel and Oates was founded and prospered. In August of 2009, she appeared in an advertising campaign for Hillshire Farms, because she likes  smoked sausage and Polska Kielbasa maybe, and for H & R Block in January 2010, because everybody likes to pay their taxes.
   Also in 2010 Kate starred in “When in Rome,” with fellow actors Kristen Bell, Anjelica Huston, Alexis Dziena, Kristen Schaal, Peggy Lipton, and the lovely and talented Danny DeVito. 
   This is a film I saw for the first time just last Friday night while experiencing a nice 5.1 earthquake. At the time I thought to myself, “Boy, Kate’s really good in this.”
   She also appeared in 12 episodes of “'Til Death,” and one of “Weeds,” that promiscuous marijuana show with Mary Louise Parker. 
   She’s been on or in lots of other things, like “Psych,” “Motorcity,” “Easy to Assemble,” “Bored to Death,” voice work on “Out There,” “Key and Peele,” the film “Rudderless,” starring and directed by that ukulele playing fool, William H Macy, and the T.V. shows “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Raising Hope.”
   Kate at one time performed a live action show, “Playing with Micucci" on the third Monday of the month at the Steve Allen Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, which happens to be in  Hollywood. I don’t think she does that anymore on a regular basis, being such a big star and all, but you can check out her website to see what it is she’s up to. 
   One last farewell song, with Garfunkel and Oates, and their friends Jill Sobule, and Marina V, about the end of the world, here.
   And here’s something interesting. The Urban Dictionary’s definition of  micucci:
“A reallly sexy thing that does not realize how truly hot it is. Makes for an excellent lover, kisses have been known to send victim into uncharted euphoric states, and has a natural unexplainable beauty that can only be described as hypnotizing. Frequently inter-fluctuates between various modes of cuteness, heavenliness, sexiness, adorableness, attractiveness, and perfectness. Despite its delectable nature, its personality flows naturally down the throat like tasteless, pure water. After hypothetical digestion, immediately causes severe cases of butterfly-stomach, perhaps due to its intimidating aura of attractive intelligence.”

Promituella:I am looking for a sexy pants that is also a sexy thong and is also a sexy bra. Can you find me one of those? 
Emmanuolazarr: Yes. It is called micucci. It is the best thing ever.”

   Well, I have no idea who Promituella and Emmanuolazarr are, but I couldn’t agree more.
   And all of us here at Joyce’s Take wish Kate and her family and friends, continued good health and fortune, and of course, a very happy birthday!
   Happy birthday Kate!

Friday, March 28, 2014


1. The using up of a resource.
"industrialized countries should reduce their energy consumption"
synonyms: use, using up, utilization, expending, depletion; More
the eating, drinking, or ingesting of something.
"liquor is sold for consumption off the premises"
synonyms: eating, drinking, ingestion More an amount of something that is used up or ingested.
"a daily consumption of 15 cigarettes"
the purchase and use of goods and services by the public.
"an article for mass consumption"
the reception of information or entertainment, esp. by a mass audience.
"his confidential speech was not meant for public consumption"
2. Dated 
a wasting disease, esp. pulmonary tuberculosis. -Google

... Tuberculosis, once thought to be a disease of the past, now infects more than 8 million people each year?
... New, drug-resistant strains of the disease are emerging faster than ever?
... Passed by a cough or a sneeze, TB is the second leading cause of death from an infectious disease on the planet?
Tonight on FRONTLINE, don't miss the premiere of TB Silent Killer from filmmaker Jezza Neumann -- a special, eye-opening look at the rise of drug-resistant TB through the stories of children and families living at the epicenter of this global health crisis.

Bacteria don't discriminate between the homeless and the affluent; the contagion does not respect neighborhood boundaries. -Sandy Banks, March 8th 2013, L.A. Times

   I live near the Skid Row Area of downtown Los Angeles (roughly defined as being the area  east of Main Street, south of Third Street, west of Alameda Street, and north of Seventh Street). We enjoy a libertarian paradise of sunny days, a carefree happy go lucky lifestyle, colorful inhabitants, lively conversation, dynamic architectural structures utilizing the latest in cardboard technology, a vigorous evangelical community, abundant culinary dispensaries, unique security resources provided by the Los Angeles Police Department, 24 hour siesta breaks, vast entrepreneurial opportunities (drug dealing, panhandling, aluminum can collection, etc.) peer fellowship, and a virtual panoply of other fun and uplifting activities that are peculiar to the area. 
   We even have our own special disease, Skids Duc Tuberculum, or Skid Row Tuberculosis translated from the Latin.
   Some call it the “Skid Row Strain” (Did it come from outer space like the Andromeda Strain? No).
   Early last year public health officials swooped into the skid row area trying to contain this outbreak (speaking of “Outbreak,” the 1995 techno/drama starring Rene Russo, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, and the lovely and talented Morgan Freeman... fortunately tuberculosis requires close and prolonged contact with an infected individual in order to acquire the disease (it is transmitted through the air when an infected person coughs, let’s say, or sneezes, or even laughs too hard and too close), and is not as infectious as the  Motaba strain depicted in the film, and will not require the use of a  fuel-air (thermobaric) bomb in order to eradicate the disease... unless federal, and state officials decided that course of action could answer the problem of homelessness in L.A. as well, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. We’re still here though, thank Zeus), and not just your average public health officials. Some of these guys came all the way from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia (I don’t know why). 
   These officials say that since 2007, 11 people have died due to this outbreak, so it’s been here awhile. 78 confirmed cases have been reported and documented, 60 of these from the general homeless population. 
   Scientists linked the outbreak to a strain of tuberculosis that is unique to Los Angeles, with a few isolated cases outside the area (a single case was found in Glendale last November).
   "This is the largest outbreak in a decade," said Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "We are really putting all of our resources into this."
   The L.A. Times reported “Health workers have identified about 4,650 people who were probably exposed and are trying to track them down for testing and treatment. Local and federal officials are particularly concerned because the cases are linked to one relatively small geographic area and one vulnerable population. But officials are concerned that the outbreak could spread beyond skid row if action isn't taken.” Anna Gorman and Andrew Blankstein, February 21st, 2013.
   But on March 6th we were assured by Los Angeles County Public Health representative Kristin Mundy, "The general public is not at risk. There is no danger to the general public."
   Tuberculosis is an infectious disease. It’s been an infectious disease for a long time, as long as I can remember at least. I don’t see how anyone could have made that statement, that assurance, with any degree of accuracy. Unless you mean by “general public” anyone who doesn’t reside on skid row. 
   But still, skid row does, or did not exist in isolation. There was no quarantine. People were free to come and go as they pleased. People who worked in the skid row area but did not live there could have been infected and spread the disease. 
   Fortunately that didn’t turn out to be the case. 
   So why did this happen in skid row (other than the conservative notion that God hates the homeless)?
   Well it could be that there are a lot of people here who are more or less concentrated into a small area, making possible infection rather easy. Life on the street for up to 5,000 people at any given time might not be as sanitary as one would like. Some folks, might be HIV positive, a higher concentration than the public at large, whose immune systems may have been compromised, making it that much easier to become infected with TB. Tuberculosis is also linked to malnutrition (which also weakens the immune system), and thus linked to poverty, yet unless some are physically unable to move around, which would be rare in skid row, people here are normally well fed, considering the number of various social service outlets that provide food on a daily, or semi-daily basis. 
   You’ll never starve in skid row (similarly with clothes. The general public often brings bags and boxes of clothing to skid row to distribute to those who live on the streets. One need never walk around naked on skid row, though many do).
   As I write this my refrigerator is chalk full of lovely split pea something with little bits of ham in it, and lots of salad, all free and courtesy of the Hippie Kitchen.
   I’m going to have some later tonight as a matter of fact.
   Maybe tomorrow too.
   “It’s a well-defined population and a relatively small geographic area with a difficult population to work with, so we’re putting a concentrated effort into making sure these individuals who are already vulnerable are getting attention,” remarks Dr. Fielding. 
   Concern about tuberculosis has been in the community long before the 2007 through 2013 outbreak. I remember being tested for it upon entering the Harbor Light facility back in December of 2001, as were all potential clients, with an emphasis placed on those working with food.
   Fortunately I didn’t have it, even though I cough a great deal (I’m allergic to smog and other people). 
   "There's a good deal of people out here who don't care whether they get [a TB test] or not and there's people who do care but take their time about caring, like putting off their doctor's appointment for later," says Fred Christopher (actual homeless person).
   Back in 2013, those public health officials issued an alert to doctors at emergency rooms, clinics and urgent care centers informing them about the investigation. Specific emphasis was placed on 300 high-risk individuals, who may have had prolonged exposure to the strain during their stay at a local homeless shelter.   
   The health department also issued new guidelines for shelters on how to screen and identify patients at risk of tuberculosis. They were urged to have dedicated staff members on the look out for clients with persistent coughs... like me.
   County officials also suggested that employees and volunteers be screened as well.
   Thankfully, that particular strain of tuberculosis was susceptible to drugs (some are not). If diagnosed in its early stages, a six to nine month regiment of antibiotics would cure the disease. 
   Apparently their strategy worked. There have been no new stories about TB outbreaks in skid row since March of last year, and no news of that outbreak significantly spreading beyond it’s boarders. 
   However, in 2007, there were an estimated 13.7 million active cases of  chronic mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) globally, while in 2010, there were an estimated 8.8 million new cases and 1.5 million associated deaths, mostly occurring in developing countries. A disease that in 1987, the American Medical Association’s Advisory Council for the Elimination of TB projected that by 2010 would become extinct worldwide, like smallpox. Currently one third of the world's population is thought to have been infected, with new infections occurring in about 1% of the population each year. Why? New strains of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis have developed antibiotic resistance to treatment.
   The good news, the absolute number of tuberculosis cases has been decreasing since 2006, and new cases have decreased since 2002.
   Of course rates of the spread of TB vary across the planet. Stunningly, about 80% of those tested in Asian and African countries test positive in tuberculin exams, compared to 5 to 10% here in the U.S. The reason for the disparity? There are many countries in Asia and Africa that are poor compared to the United States, and developing, displaying many of the same disease prone circumstances that exist in L.A.s skid row... crowded conditions, prevalence of HIV infected individuals, true instances of malnutrition, and unsanitary conditions (and scarcity, or contamination of water. Derek Markham writes for Care2, “Almost 3 ½ million people die every year because of water and sanitation and hygiene-related causes, and almost all of them (99 percent) are in the developing world. That’s like the population of a city the size of Los Angeles being wiped out each year.” And, “More than 1 billion people still practice open defecation every day... which can not only pollute the immediate area, but can also contaminate community water supplies. Sanitation and clean water go hand in hand.”).
   Some of the infected develop active tuberculosis soon after becoming infected, before their immune system can fight off the bacteria. Other’s may get sick much later, when their immune system becomes weak for some other reason or reasons.
   Babies and young children often have weak immune systems. Others with any of these conditions: substance abuse; diabetes mellitus; silicosis; cancer of the head or neck; leukemia or Hodgkin's disease; severe kidney disease; low body weight; certain medical treatments such as corticosteroid treatment or organ transplants (which typically require the use of immunosuppressants to facilitate organ acceptance); specialized treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, or Crohn's disease are susceptible. 
   Where did this disease come from? Funny you should ask.
   The Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex evolved in Africa and most probably in the Horn of Africa (a peninsula in Northeast Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent), approximately 40,000 years ago.
   Human bones from the Near East dating back five thousand years show the telltale signs of TB. Mummies from Egypt 2400 BCE (Before the Common/Current/Christian Era (a regional alternative to Before Christ, abbreviated BC) show tubercular decay in their spines. The ancient Greeks described it, too. Around 460 BCE, Hippocrates identified phthisis, or consumption, as the most widespread disease of his age. It was almost always fatal then and because of that, he advised his followers and students against treating the disease in it’s late stages, not for fear of contamination, but to avoid damage to their reputations as healers.
   The English physician and author of “A New Theory of Consumption (1720),” Benjamin Martin,  thought that TB resulted from the actions of “wonderfully minute living creatures.” Once those creatures established themselves in the body, Martin hypothesized, they would generate the characteristic symptoms of tuberculosis. He further theorized about the mode of transmission, that close contact with a infected patient, including frequent conversation so close as to “draw in part of the breath he emits from the Lungs,” was enough to transmit the disease.
   Despite Dr Martin’s theories, up until the end of our Civil War, 1865, the common thought was that tuberculosis arose spontaneously in susceptible individuals. That year, a French military doctor, Jean-Antoine Villemin, demonstrated that tuberculosis could be passed from humans to cattle, and from cattle to rabbits. That was a big deal, because he demonstrated that the disease was passed from person to person by way of a causative agent, not the wrath of God let’s say, or susceptibility. 
   In 1882, the German physician Robert Koch (no relation to Charles and David... I think),  conclusively demonstrated that a bacterial infection caused TB. Later investigations proved it was transmitted through the air.
    Tuberculosis is one of history’s great killers of people. Although not as aggressive as the bubonic plague, TB has killed more people in history than it has, and other such diseases as leprosy, or HIV. An estimated 1 billion people around the world have been killed by TB in the past two centuries alone, and the fatalities continue (influenza is still the number one killer of humans in history).
   The discovery of penicillin in 1928 was a boon to mankind, and great if you suffered from diseases like syphilis, or other gram-positive bacterial infections, but proved ineffective against TB. 
   Streptomycin, first isolated from the Streptomyces griseus on October 19th, 1943, was the drug  that tuberculosis researchers had been looking for. It combined low toxicity with high inhibitory effects, and on November 20th, 1944, the first critically ill TB patient was treated, with remarkable results (they got better).
   Several anti-TB drugs followed, and they were important because therapy with a single drug soon sparked  tuberculosis resistant strains. Multidrug therapy was used to avoid this difficult  problem.
   And many scientists concluded that like smallpox, which was labeled as being eradicated in 1979, TB would be gone as well, as in the second half of the 20th century rates of tuberculosis infection dropped throughout the developed world.
   But by 1985, for the first time, the number of new cases of TB began to rise. The World Health Organization now calls TB a “fire raging out of control” in developing nations, among the poor, in prisons, on skid rows, and in people with HIV. Worldwide, someone becomes infected with tuberculosis every second. 
   Last Tuesday night I watched “Frontline” on one of my local PBS stations, as I often do. 
   “Frontline,” as you may know, is a public affairs television program that produces and broadcasts in-depth documentaries about various subjects, usually of a social and political nature, originating out of WGBH-TV in Boston, Massachusetts,  and distributed through the PBS network, and is owned by the infamous WGBH Educational Foundation.
   “WGBH is proud to be PBS’s single largest producer of Web and TV content (prime-time and children’s programs). Some of your favorite series — Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden, to name a few — are produced here in our Brighton studios.” -WGBH
   The show, entitled “TB, the Silent Killer,” documented a few cases of tuberculosis infection in the tiny (it is no more than 120 miles north to south and 81 miles east to west) south African country of Swaziland, which is currently riddled with an active TB epidemic.
   Michaeleen Doucleff of NPR writes: “Two weeks ago, 12-year-old Nokubheka (picture above)'s mother died from drug-resistant tuberculosis.
   ‘I love singing and dancing to the song,’ Nokubheka says as she marches around in a hot pink skirt and sweatshirt. ‘When I'm dancing, I forget that my mother passed away.’
   Now the young girl from Swaziland has learned she has the same disease.
   Nokubheka will have to take painful injections for months to stop the infection. She'll have to move away from her family to a hospital. And she'll miss two years of school.
   The world has a new epidemic on its hands, and it's insidiously veiled as an old one.”
   I strongly suggest you follow the above link and watch this thought provoking, painful, and yet hopeful program.
   "The multidrug regimen that was developed not long after the discovery of streptomycin is effective if it is taken continually, in regular doses, for 6–8 months, and therein lies the problem. For various reasons, many patients are noncompliant. Some stop taking the drugs when they feel better—a common problem with antibiotics. Others stop because of the cost or inconvenience or because they distrust the medical establishment."
   Particularly troubling is the link between TB and HIV which have formed a new and deadly combination. The World Health Organization estimates that HIV produces 1.4 million cases of TB each year that otherwise would not appear.
   “It’s a classic story of artificial selection. The initial doses of the antibiotics kill off the susceptible microbes, leaving the resistant ones to reinfect the consumptive. It is estimated that more than half of the isolates from relapsed TB cases are resistant to at least one drug. It takes three years on average to develop a new antibiotic; it takes three months to develop a resistant bug." -Christopher S. W. Koehler 
   Our conservative friends at times rally against science when it suits them, when their perceived economic interests seem to be threatened. Prodded on by the Republican Noise Machine (media) much of the American population disclaim the fact of evolution, climate change, and cosmic history, as matters that are unsettled and very much up for debate. They are misguided. 
   We face many problems and difficulties that urgently need to be addressed. Every generation, it seems, face their own set of unique concerns that are of paramount importance to that generation. Ours happen to be a warming planet, over fishing, changing water resources, ocean acidification, deforestation, and treatment resistant diseases, and they are just some of the problems that we  face.  
   The admission that some of these issues even exist threaten certain economic concerns, so it is in their vested interest to deny that they exist, and spend whatever it takes to muster up support for their position. The oil and gas industry finances climate change deniers, and the groups they belong to. They claim a false parity with the established science which has warned us of these dangers. Is this a responsible position to take? Hardly.
   The promise of short term economic gain trumping long term environmental concerns sadly fuels powerful interests that choose not to care that their own descendents will have to live with the consequences of their actions... or they live in a fantasy world of their own creation in which they actually, and truly believe the same lies they tell others, which makes them delusional. Delusional to such a degree that they are a danger to themselves and the rest of humanity. 
   Like the hosts of “Fox and Friends.”
   In any case (unless you happen to be a Christian Scientist, who are free to chose their own fate), if we are to meet the threat of the spread of antibiotic resistant diseases head on, which we will need to do, we have a tool. An advantage over the viruses and bacteria that have always plagued mankind. 
   We have science, and the medical breakthroughs that science has provided and will continue to provide. 
   If it makes some feel better we can state the matter like this: science is God’s gift to us to help us solve the problems that Satan throws our way from time to time because he’s Satan, and that’s 
what he does (Bill Maher recently pointed out on his HBO program, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” that it is at times best to frame an issue in such a way that the majority of citizens may be amenable towards acceptance of it who otherwise would be disinclined to consider the issue. For example: instead of advocating for the harvesting of solar energy, we should say “Let’s just steal the Sun’s oil”).
   It is disingenuous to hold the position that science is okay, that it works in certain aspects, for certain problems and not for others when it’s inconvienent 
   Science is, and always will be our best bet to deal with these difficult problems that we always seem to face. 
   Yes, maybe science has caused some of these problems, like the Industrial Revolution leading to climate change, or the invention of the atomic bomb leading to nuclear proliferation.  
   But science can get us out of these difficulties too.
   If we use it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Skid Row Diary 23

1 September 2003   Monday    Day 51

   September... an odd month...
   I had switched on the old radio before knocking out and so heard the smooth velvet voice of Frankie Sontag, back from two weeks of vacation, as I visited with Nicki and Annette.
   No Giselle though. She took Labor Day off, as did those radio bastards Mark and Brian.
   I wrote in the morning, and used the day room computer for about an hour to transfer some notes onto a disk.
   I read the forward to “The Glass Bead Game,” the last novel by the German author Hermann Hesse, written by Theodore Ziolkowski who’s from Alabama. 
    At noon I took off to Pasadena.
   I used the Gold Line again. A pleasant journey on a beautiful, sunny day here in Los Angeles. I rode it all of the way to the end of the line this time, just to increase my store of personal knowledge. I wound up on a big concrete platform smack in the middle of the 210 freeway, in the city of Arcadia. Well I don’t mind telling you I got out of there as quickly as possible. Strange things are said about Arcadia. People go there and are never heard from again.
   Back at the Del Mar Station, I walked north through The Park, to Colorado Blvd., and the Barnes and Noble book store, where I picked up some books. Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot,” and “Night Shift” (I can’t quite get myself to get “It,” it’s just so damn long, and, I know, I know that 98 to 99% of it is back story where nothing happens) which I’ve read before, Koontz’s “Soul Surviver,” and “Night Chills,” which I don’t think I’ve read yet (with Koontz it’s hard to tell if you’ve read a particular novel as he’s written so many of them, many of which have one word  cryptic titles, which may or may not have anything to do with the book’s plot), Arthur C Clark’s “2010, Odyssey Two,” a vocabulary builder, two law books, “How to File for Divorce in California,” and “Legal Research.” “The Journals of Lewis and Clark,” and the latest issue of Maxim Magazine, due to the photograph of Mariah Carey on the cover. As luck would have it there was a nice picture of Nicki Aycox in there too.
   Across the street at Moby Disk, I bought two videos, “Contact,” the Robert Zemeckis film based on Dr. Carl Sagan’s one and only novel. It’s one of my favorite movies because of the subject matter mostly, it’s high production values, and I love John Hurt’s (the guy who first got alienized in “Alien”)  portrayal of  S.R. Hadden (“Want to take a ride?!”). Unfortunately, the adapted screenplay, seemed like it was written by kids in kindergarten. 
   The second video was Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite,” which I chose over the Coen brother’s “Miller’s Crossing,” simply because I’m secretly in love with Mira Sorvino.
   Please don’t tell anyone.
  And that’s who I watched when I got back to my room. Mira’s Oscar winning performance, inspired by the wit of the space robots that inhabit Woody Allen. 
   I watched “The History Detectives,” and a little of Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday,” but not too much. I don’t particularly care for that film. One has to really be in to football I guess.
   I read from my new Clark book, then slept, dreaming of being on a desert island with Mira Sorvino and Sunset Thomas, the lovely and talented star of “Frenzy.”
   They wanted all of my coconuts.
   They were my coconuts!
   I worked hard for them!
   They had no claim to them.
Those damn trees are tall!
They let me keep one.

2   September    Tuesday   day 52

   I felt extremely depressed and uninterested in anything today, and did little but read from Hesse and Montaigne, and meditate. 
   I’ll get over it.
   Giselle was back though, thank God! The one bright point in an otherwise dreary day. 
   But where is Odalys? Where? Where?
   I have so much to do. So much to get done, and it seems impossible at times to get started.
   I watched my new video, “Contact,” and was suitably inspired.
   I also locked myself out of my room for the second time. I realized I didn’t have my key the instant the door closed, and called to have security come up to let me in.
   Security tends to take their own sweet time in matters such as this, and I stood at the stairwell just down the hall from my room for 45 minutes waiting. I called again and waited some more. Then I got tired of waiting and opened the door myself by slipping the lock with my I.D. card.
   That was an act of desperation. I didn’t know it would work. 
   Now I don’t feel very secure knowing how easy it is to get into these rooms.
   I continued to read from 2010. Except for the Chinese spacecraft landing on Europa the 1982 Peter Hyams film was taken directly from the book, which is very good. I don’t like it when producers make movies out of popular books, and then change the plot, or whatever, to suit their own needs.
   After the 11:00 news with Lauren Sanchez, who like Mark and Brian was just returning from vacation, I went to sleep and dreamt I was stranded on a desert island with Lauren and Ona Zee, the lovely and talented actress who starred in such fine films like “Fever Pitch,” and “Razor’s Edge.”
   They wanted my coconuts too.
   They took them all this time.

3  September   Wednesday   Day 53

   I didn’t want to get out of bed, a sure sign of depression. Then I thought about Mars receding from me, very fast now, and I got out of bed.
   There were leaves from the Cocos nucifera tree in my bed.
   Did you know that a coconut is not a nut? No. Neither did I.
   It’s a drupe.
   Now we both know.
   Giselle was wearing pants, and Mark and Brian rambled aimlessly with little consequence, but no matter.
   I took a long time cleaning my room in preparation for my weekly visit from housekeeping.
   After I got it all spruced up I signed in at the front desk and left the building.
   I took the 18 to 5th and Alverado, walking 2 blocks south to the check cashing place. I passed Gary Porch on the way. He was a tad upset because DPSS had denied his food stamps. I consoled him as best as I could, advising that he go to their office to see what was up.
   His failure created anxiety within myself, thinking I might have a similar fate.
   But that was not the case. $126 in food stamps, and unexpectedly, my cash benefits had started up again with an $84 check. I was rich!
   I took the Red Line back downtown and walked to the One Stop to check my messages. John Manzano had called my voice mail twice, asking me to call him. I tried two times but couldn’t get through. The creature that inhabits the telephone lines kept asking me to “Please wait... please wait... please wait.”
   I got tired of waiting.
   All the computers were busy at One Stop, so I left and sold my food stamps for $100 cash. I bought a money order for $56, which I was required to give to Labren at the Weingart. It would be held and given back to me when I left there. I then treated myself to lunch at the Taco Bell at 5th and Broadway.
   Burrito Supreme, Cheese Quesadilla, and Coconut Juice.
   I could eat this crap all day.
   I used the library computers to get to my Email which had accumulated quite a bit. I deleted everything except stuff from Amnesty International. I sent a message to Manzano.
   I received two letters from Voc Rehab, which told me I was “Most Eligible” for their services, and to contact my Voc Rehab case worker.
   Most Eligible? So they’ve come to realize what a sick bastard I am.
   And a new hearing date has been established for my food stamp matter. I shall take care of all of that next week.
   I purchased two videos at the indoor mall. “Adaptation,” starring Meryl Streep, and “The Dish,” starring the lovely and talented Sam Neill.
   After lunch, and after writing, I would watch “Adaptation,” and feel many things about the experience, but I will have to do some research concerning this film before I feel confident enough to comment about it... which kind of pisses me off.
   I did not start school this week. I don’t know why.
   Instead I watched Sub-Commander T'Pol go into heat on “Star Trek Enterprise,” which was infinitely more interesting.
   I would sleep at some point. I usually do.
   Meryl Streep and Linda Lovelace, the tormented star of “Linda Lovelace for President,” entered my dreams. We were winding our way through the Florida Everglades looking for orchids, and for some reason it was my job to shoo way the hungry alligators.who live there.
   Pesky devils!

4   September   Thursday   Day 54

   I finally met with the Veteran’s Housing Specialist, Dahlia Sanchez, a former Marine jar head type individual. Since my nine months here at the Weingart are up in October, I’m especially and enthusiastically interested in what services she may provide.
   As her title implies she deals exclusively with veterans, veterans who have progressed to the 3rd and final phase of the Weingart’s comprehensive veteran’s program. Those other vets, in phases 1 and 2, meet two or three times a week, but Dahlia only schedules two meetings a month, on the first Tuesday and Thursday, a testament to her undoubted efficiency and indolence.
   I had neglected to attend Tuesday, so at 3:55 I wrangled down to the training room to attend my very first Phase 3 meeting. The door was closed.
   At 4:00 no one was there.
   “You have to be patient,” the security person told me when I asked at their nearby office where Dahlia might be. 
   “I’m patient,” I told him. “I’m not going anywhere.”
   At 4:08 Dahlia and Richard Carns walked by and acknowledged my presence. She had security open to training room.
   “Go ahead,” Dahlia said to me, “I’ll be right back.”
   I found a nice chair and sat down. I hadn’t brought a book with me, so I thought about the TDTESS screenplay, coming up with some nice ideas.
   Thirty minutes later I was still there and just about to leave when Dahlia showed up, telling me I could leave as I was the only one who showed up.
   She assured me I would receive credit for the class. I told her I wasn’t so much interested in getting credit for the class, rather I was interested in what services she provided. 
   “Well I’ve got the Money Management Class pretty much worked out, but am still working on community contacts,” she told me.
   I told her I would see her soon and left. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to graduate from all three Phases without attending a single class.
   I continued to explore the Jovian system by way of Clark’s 2010 book, and watched Heather Locklear spank herself in a guest appearance on “Scrubs,” NBC’s medical comedy show (why not? We have police comedies and spy comedies, they even tried a sit-com about guys in prison once (I saw it being taped). If you count “Ally Mcbeal,” and I see no reason not to, there are even comedies about lawyers, a group not commonly regarded for their slap happy antics).
   I dreamt about Heather, as I often do, and Kristi Myst, the lovely and talented star of “Buffy’s First Encounter,” which I have not seen (I don’t think I have), but it must have had something to do with U.F.O.s.
   I dreamt I was a hospital patient waiting for a penis reduction procedure, and these ladies were my nurses. I rang the buzzer for them.
   “Can I have another sponge bath please,” I asked as they entered. “I feel so dirty.”
   “But you’ve had three already,” Kristi exclaimed.
   “Yeah, but it’s been over an hour,” I reminded them.
   “I’ll get the sponge,” Heather blurted.
   I sat back.
   Sometimes these dreams work out really well.

5   September   Friday   Day 55

   Friday is here! Time to go to the movies.
   Sometime last night a notice had been placed on the restroom and shower room doors, notifying those who happened to be roaming around the halls that the water would be shut off between the hours of 6:00AM and 7:30... I don’t know why.
   Dutifully I got up at 9:00, showered, put some clothes on, and left for City Walk.
   I stopped at the 99 Cent Store on Alvarado, and purchased two semi-cold bottles of root beer. Thus armed, I arrived at the theater complex thirty minutes before the first show I wanted to see began. Having missed breakfast, I dined on a nice, sloppy, Tommy’s chile dog before going in. You certainly don’t want to be malnourished while sitting through a long movie. 
   Because the 99 Cent Store had been out, I was forced to buy $5 worth of savory, popcorn with chemical butter all over it.
   $5 for something that cost the theater like 25 cents to make. 
   Runaway capitalism.
   I went to Theater number 1, which was showing the just released “The Order,” starring Heath Ledger. It turned out to be just another variation of the old “sin eater” theme. This film didn’t really have a whole lot going for it... except the trailer, which looked really good. The last ten or fifteen minutes was fairly interesting, but before that there was basically little appearance of what could be called a plot, or story, which is usually not a good thing. The characters were written in such a vague, stereotypical manner, that I felt stereotypical while watching it, and I couldn’t muster up any feelings for them. 
   One underlying subplot, an American Cardinal seeking the papacy by means of murder, lies, and manipulation, all in order to regain the Catholic Church’s power, territory, and possessions, with the goal of the church rising up to take over the world, was hardly frightening. Murderers, rapists, and thieves have gained the papal throne many times in the past. But unless the church has their own nuclear weapons, they don’t appear to be much of a threat.
   Militant popes, always a problem.
   On my way out of the theater I took a wrong turn through the labyrinth halls and accidentally walked in to the “Jeepers Creepers 2“ movie, just as it was beginning as chance would have it. I was very tired by then and so decided to sit for awhile to catch my breath, and watched it again. Screw Ebert and Roper (this film is number 1 in the country).
   It was very hot in L.A. today, even up on windy City Walk. And very bright. As I came out of the sun and into the Red Line station, I experienced some kind of sun attack. My vision was effected. What looked like two white Lima beans disrupted my line of sight, becoming more prominent when I closed my eyes. I could still see people and other things before me, the beans were semi-transparent, but I felt a little dizzy, and so sat on the floor hoping this would soon pass.
   The beans faded after a moment or two, and my vision returned to normal, and I went on my way.
   I’m getting old I guess. Do things like that happen to old people?
   Swedish meatballs, with about 3 noodles for dinner.
   I finished Dr. Clark’s “2010, Odyssey 2“ book, and because of it I was transported through the seas of Europa, which of course are completely frozen over due to the minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit and vacuum at the surface, the sea being heated by volcanic out gassing at it’s greatest depths. I’ve been to the diamond and metallic hydrogen core of Jupiter, and saw life there. Jules Verne has taken me to the bottom of the Earth’s oceans. Kurt Vonnegut to the center of the Sun. Carl Sagan, and others, have taken me on tours throughout the cosmos, and I know the inevitable gravitational fate of the universe, billions of years from now. 
   Herman Melville has shown me how to hunt a whale. Harper Lee has shown me why mocking birds should not be killed. J.D. Salinger has introduced me to a wonderful family in New York. Steinbeck, a group of discontent men in Monterey. Cervantes, a man with a dream. James Clavell has shown me Hong Kong’s beginning, and taken me on a tour of a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Thomas Harris into the mind of a mad man. Dante’s Virgil guided me through the circles of Hell. James Joyce has let me feel what it was like to live in Dublin for a day, and reminded me what it was like to lose love. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has let me live in Columbia with another amazing family. Shirley Jackson into the bowels of an evil house. Edger Allen Poe and Stephen King, into other dark places I wouln’td set my little pinky in if it were not within the confines of a book. Fyodor Dostoevsky has forced me to look into the dark places of my own being. And Mark Twain has shown me wit, laughter, and jumping frogs. All of these places, and many, many more all within my lonely little room.
   When it comes down to it I’ve lived a very full life.

6   September    Saturday   Day 56

   I woke from a dream involving Jane Leeves, the beautiful and talented star of the television show “Frasier,” Krista Lane, and Suzi Suzuki, stars of “Wishbone,” and “Lotus,” respectively, 5 quarts of cookie dough ice cream, 7 beach balls, a 30 foot ladder, a Volvo 360 sedan, a koala bear, 67 coconuts, and a trampoline.
   I didn’t feel like going to the valley today, to Trimar. Summer was giving a last ditch effort to turn the city into a blast furnace, and it was too hot for making long, boring bus trips.
   I spent the day writing and thinking about the upcoming week. Not much would happen, I mused, until after the 12th, but there were a few things I could do until then to keep some forward momentum going.
   I began reading Koontz’s “Sole Surviver,” one of his faced paced novels, when all of the action and story takes place within a remarkably short period of time. I’ve found these are usually his best books, and this one is a clear example of it so far. I stayed up until 4AM reading it.
   If Stephen King takes me to dark places I otherwise wouldn’t care to tread, Koontz takes me there on a roller coaster during an earthquake. But he always gives me a fighting chance to become a hero, as in his world, the good guys usually win.
   That’s not what it’s really like, is it?
   At one point he used the term “Situational Ethics” (takes into account the particular context of an act when evaluating it ethically, rather than judging it according to absolute moral standards -The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (2000)). Although it was used in reference to the “bad guys,” in actuality it relates almost to everyone at one time or another.
   I ate lunch and dinner with Gary Porch, speaking to him at length. I’m afraid he’s been bad again. 
   After I left him Wednesday, near the check cashing place, he went on another bender and stayed out all night. Precisely the type of behavior which he had been promised would get him thrown out of the Weingart. He can’t seem to help himself. Like a freight car that can’t get off the short track, he seems doomed to keep hurting himself, which is a pity. 
   I’ve done the exact same thing at various times in my life, and so am in no position to judge him, or anyone else for that matter. I would help him if I could, for at this time in my life my energies are directed towards arresting my disease, but I can’t. I did go so far as to offer to take him to a Drifters AA meeting, but of course he didn’t want to go, or to make any effort to change. Until he wants to do that he’ll continue in his life of misery and quiet desperation, anesthetized by booze. 
   I know that feeling too well.
   That’s the main reason I’ve never wanted to get back into the drug rehabilitation field. Nobody gets well until they absolutely want to do it, and sometimes, not even then. It’s really that simple.
   I recorded Terry Gilliam’s “The Fisher King,” getting a fairly decent copy of it, as much as the crappy reception on my T.V. would allow. An interesting film about guilt and mental illness.
   The heros won in this one too.
   And after I decided I should put the damn Koontz novel down (Curse you Koontz!) and get some sleep, I dreamt of being Kristy Swanson’s champion (Kristy, as you may remember, was the original Buffy, the Vampire Slayer in the classic feature film, before being replaced on television by that upstart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who doesn’t even look like Buffy. Last year Kristy appeared in a Playboy photo spread, and I remember thinking that she looked like what a Christmas Angel must look like if there were such things) at a jousting tournament, during the middle ages. She had given me her scarf, and I wore it proudly on my way to do battle with the fire belching demon of the Fisher King. 
   I quickly dispatched it, then jumped off of my horse and beat it with a stick.
   The crowd cheered, and my lady looked upon me with favor.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


“The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”  -Carl Sagan

noun: cosmos
Origen: Greek: Kosmos
1. The universe seen as a well-ordered whole.
"He sat staring deep into the void, reminding himself of his place in the cosmos"
2. A system of thought.
"The new gender-free intellectual cosmos"
plural noun: cosmoses
3. An ornamental plant of the daisy family with single dahlialike flowers. Native to tropical America, it is widely grown as an ornamental. -Google

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

   I knew this would happen. I predicted it.
   “Herkimer,” I said to my invisible cat, “this is really going to piss off those right-wing, creationist bastards.” And I was right.
   I usually am.
   Anyway, you may be aware that the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is currently hosting a new incarnation of the 1980 science advocacy PBS 13 part series, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” entitled “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” surprisingly on several of the Fox networks, and the National Geographic Channel. New episodes air on Sunday nights, at 9:00p.m. here in Los Angeles on Fox (Monday nights on the NGC). Ostensibly the new version was produced to introduce discoveries in science (with an emphasis on astronomy) that have occurred since “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” first aired on September 28th, 1980 (through December 21nd), such as the discovery of the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle which is associated with mass generation in other particles without which we wouldn’t be here. I don’t know where we’d be, but it wouldn’t be here.
   Other discoveries since 1980 include the detection of extrasolar planets, which are planets revolving around stars other than are own (not necessarily earth-like planets, just other planets). As of last Thursday we have discovered 1779 planets in 1102 planetary systems including 460 multiple planetary systems, which is really cool, and the second factor in the famous Drake Equation, which is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. 
   We’ve also discovered, or inferred the existence of what we lovingly call dark matter, which is a type of matter hypothesized to account for certain effects that appear to be the result of mass where no such mass can be seen, instead, the existence and properties of dark matter are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation, and the large-scale structure of the universe. Like black holes, we know it must be there by it’s effects on mass or energy near it.
   I wish I had some right now to play with... like Silly Putty.
   If updating current scientific knowledge to the 1980 series was the reason to produce “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” then it’s already outdated, due to the recent discovery by scientists at the South Pole, using a BICEP2 telescope (pictured above) to probe the cosmic microwave background radiation, which is the echo left over from the Big Bang, from which our universe emerged 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years ago, and which has helped to validate the theory of Inflation (or at least provided the first direct evidence for it by detecting gravitational waves), a theory which purports that space expanded for a fraction of a second in the early universe at a rate much faster than the speed of light. This discovery also supports the idea of a Multiverse, that our universe is just one of many. In the first fraction of the first second after the Big Bang, some parts of space-time expanded more quickly than others, which created "bubbles" of space-time that then developed into these other universes, which may have different laws of physics other than are own.
   I’ve suspected this theory of a multiverse to be true for years because the U.F.O.s have to come from somewhere.
   So, as far as “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” goes, it’s already old news.
   Yet, I recommend it to absolutely everyone.
   That includes you Uncle Dwezel! 
   I was in the navy when Dr. Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” was first broadcast, and probably goofing off in the middle of the Pacific Ocean somewhere. I first saw “Cosmos" on PBS repeats though, after I got out of the service, in a little apartment in Van Nuys, California (on Orion Ave, appropriately enough, right next to the freaking San Diego Freeway), and was instantly transfixed by it, as were many others (“Cosmos” was the most widely watched series in the history of American public television until that documentarian bastard Ken Burns came out with “The Civil War,” in 1990. Wikipedia tells us that of as of 2009 "Cosmos" was still the most widely watched PBS series in the world).
   For the life of me I can’t remember when I first became aware of Carl Sagan’s work, but I can say this for certain, it was either before I was in the navy, or after. I’m almost positive. I can tell you this as well. I either first read his books and then watched “Cosmos,” or the other way around.
   And I can say this, if I ever had what is commonly called a mentor, it was Dr. Sagan, as he was to so many others, possibly for Dr. Tyson.
   He spent a day with Carl when he was 17 years old after Carl had suspiciously intercepted Neil’s college application, and attempted to recruit him to Cornell University, where he was the director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. 
   “Interestingly, when I applied to Cornell, my application dripped of my passion for the study and research of the Universe. Somehow the admissions office brought my application to the attention of the late Dr. Sagan, and he actually took the initiative and care to contact me. He was very inspirational and a most powerful influence. Dr. Sagan was as great as the universe, an effective mentor,” Tyson writes.
   Carl taught me sceptical thinking, how to apply the scientific method to almost everything, introduced me to the Bologna Detection Kit and invisible dragons, he explained many complicated aspects of science in such a way that even I could understand them, and was one of the many individuals who taught me how to write... at least as much as I can currently demonstrate.
   “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” aired in 13 one hour segments. It was notable for its use of then ground breaking special effects. It incorporated the music of the Greek composer Vangelis, which provided the haunting theme which can be heard in the above clip. It was written by Carl and his future wife, Ann Druyan (pictured above with Neil. They married in 1981), and astrophysicist, Steven Soter. And it told the story, not of the cosmos really, for that would be impossible, but of what we knew of it at the time, and about science and it’s simple 3 part self correcting method, and about ourselves and the life that surrounds us.
   I’ve watched the series many times. I’ve read the book. I own the book. I have the series on DVD, and could watch it this very instant if I so desired. But right now I’d rather write this... maybe later.
   Here’s a quick overview:
   In Part 1 Carl introduces us to the Cosmic Calendar, as Neil did in Part 1 of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” the Cosmic Calendar representing the history of our universe from the Big Bang to the present represented within 12 months. He took us with him on his "Spaceship of the Imagination" on a trip throughout the solar system and beyond, and introduced us to Eratosthenes of Cyrene and the Library of Alexandria.
   In Part 2 he takes a look at evolution, as did Neil. He took a look at the function of DNA in growth; genetic replication, repairs, and mutation; how we are connected deeply to all of the living organisms on this planet, and speculated on how it got started.
   In Part 3 he discussed the pseudosciences, such as astrology compared to astronomy, and creationism vs evolution. He spoke of Ptolemy, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler.
   In Part 4 we look at comets and asteroids, and the planet Venus, and it’s runaway greenhouse effect.
   Part 5 is devoted to the red planet Mars, our closest neighbor.
   In Part 6 he talks about the Voyager spacecraft, and their close encounters with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, before they ventured out into interplanetary space, each carrying a special message on a golden record (at Dr. Sagan’s urging, Voyager 1 was turned around to take a last picture of Earth from 3.7 billion miles away, “A Pale Blue Dot,” pictured above).
   The discovery of a star’s true nature are examined in Part 7, as well as the careers of Aristarchus of Samos, Thales of Miletus, Anaximander, Theodorus of Samos, Empedocles, and Democritus, who championed scientific inquiry, while Plato, Aristotle, and the Pythagoreans held different views.
   Space and time are the subjects of Part 8, as well as the expansion of the universe. Albert Einstein, and his theory of relatively, Leonardo da Vinci, travel near the speed of light, time travel, the origins of the Solar System, the history of life, and the immensity of space.
   Part 9 examines “The Lives of Stars,” their evolution (that’s right, stars evolve just like us. It’s crazy, I know. It’s going on everywhere!), different types, and their deaths (that’s right, stars die too).
   The origen of the universe, radio astronomy, different dimensions, those pesky multiverses, all are discussed in Part 10.
   In Part 11 intelligence is looked at (and it’s yet to be seen if human intelligence that has brought us so much... at least some of us so much, will be proven as a successful survival mechanism), as well as DNA and the human brain.
   The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), U.F.O.s, the Drake Equation, and the possibility of a repository of information about other worlds in the galaxy, a Encyclopedia Galactica is discussed in Part 12.
   And in Part 13 we ask, “Who Speaks for Earth,” the future of humanity, the lost expedition of Jean François de Galaup,  the destruction of the Aztecs by Spanish conquistadors, the still existent threat of nuclear warfare, and the threats shown by the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the murder of Hypatia, are examined in the 13th and final episode.
   In 1986 a special edition of Cosmos featuring new computer animated sequences and filmed segments with Carl was produced. 
   As of this particular moment Dr. Tyson has aired the first 2 episodes of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” and predictably, considering the times and political atmosphere, some of our conservative friends are a tad upset about it. Why? Good question. Let’s take a look shall we.
   First off, they never did like Dr. Sagan‘s quote from above because of course it doesn’t mention God as some kind of factor, or some entity that exists outside of the cosmos. Well number 1, as I’ve mentioned many, many times before, if you are going to enter a factor into a problem, situation, equation, or whatever, it’s your job to prove, unequivocally and unambiguously, that that factor exists. It’s not my job to disprove that it it exists, it’s your job to prove that it does in order to be taken into consideration in any serious discussion. As far as I know, and I may be wrong about this, the existence of God has not been empirically proven.
   Answers in Genesis's (a non-profit Christian apologetics ministry) very own astronomer, Dr.  Danny Faulkner, says this: “There is not a bit of science in that statement. When Sagan said it 34 years ago and then wrote it in his book, a lot of people were saying, “Wow! What a profound scientific statement,” but it’s actually a philosophical statement. It is denial of the supernatural, saying the only thing that exists is the physical world, the natural world. But to say that with any certainty Sagan had to get outside the physical universe and see that the physical universe is all that there is. And he would have had to do that in eternity past and in eternity future in order to say that. If he could really see that, then he would be god. It’s a very bold, metaphysical statement. It’s an assertion. But it’s not science. It’s not a scientific statement.”
   To that I say balderdash!
   I’ll go so far as to say it again... balderdash!
   I say there’s not a bit of science in Dr. Falkner’s statement! He claims the possibility of some “supernatural” something that may exist outside of the cosmos without providing a shred of proof, or evidence that it exists, or that Dr. Sagan needs to view the cosmos from outside of it to make sure it doesn’t exist before his statement can be considered valid... by him. Again, that’s not Dr. Sagan’s job. By definition nothing exists outside of the cosmos, because the cosmos is everything that there is. If there is a God, then he, she, or it, lives within the cosmos, if he, she, or it, is interacting with entities within it. Like the statement “The ends of the Earth” (there is no end of the Earth as the Earth is a sphere, and a sphere has no edge or end) “outside of the cosmos” has no meaning. 
   Second, the definition of the word “cosmos,” Google graciously provided above doesn’t mention anything about God, so why should Carl in his introduction to a television series entitled “Cosmos?”
   Beats me.
   On to the new program. 
   Answers in Genesis’s Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, an obstetrician and gynecologist, doesn’t like the Big Bang Theory. 
   I don’t know. I’ve never seen the program. But the actual Big Bang, she states, “The “observational evidence” to which Tyson refers is not, however, observations that confirm big bang cosmology but interpretations of scientific data that interpret observations within a big bang model of origins. The big bang model is unable to explain many scientific observations, but this is of course not mentioned.”
   “Interpretations of scientific data that interpret observations within a big bang model of origins,” is exactly what science is about. The prevailing line of scientific thought supports the theory of the Big Bang, like that cosmic microwave background radiation we were discussing earlier. If there is evidence that supports some other theory for the origin of the cosmos then let it be reviewed by the appropriate scientific authority, and if it is valid, then it shall have to be considered. That’s how science works. As of yet, no other satisfactory theory has been advanced. Once again, it’s not science’s job to disprove a biblical interpretation of the origen of the cosmos, it’s for biblical authorities to prove that their theory has scientific merit if it is to be considered as science, rather than a creation myth. 
   “The big bang model is unable to explain many scientific observations, but this is of course not mentioned.” What scientific observations is she referring to? And even if the Big Bang theory currently cannot account for some observation or effects, that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future, and does not invalidate the theory, a fact that she does not mention. 
   Evolution, oh yeah, let’s talk about evolution. 
   Dr. Mitchell has this to say: “Finally, Tyson, standing in a lovely setting surrounded by rocks and pools, deals with the origin of life. Abiogenesis—the origin of life from non-living elements through natural processes—is essential to naturalistic evolutionary dogma. Yet abiogenesis has never been observed in science. Moreover, abiogenesis violates the natural laws that govern everything known to chemical and biological science. Invoking blind faith in evolutionary principles, Tyson therefore says, “We still don’t know how life got started. For all we know it may have come from another part of the Milky Way. The origin of life is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of science.” Scooping up some water, he adds, ‘That’s life cooking, evolving all the biochemical recipes for its incredibly complex activities. By Nov 9th [of the cosmic calendar], life was breathing, moving, eating, responding to its environment. We owe a lot to those pioneering microbes.’
   The scientific method has led to the discoveries and technological leaps that shape our lives and our understanding of the universe. Unfortunately, when it comes to the topic of unobservable origins, mainstream scientists who believe big bang cosmology and molecules-to-man evolution think that the god-free framework they have invented is a factual reality that accurately and reliably describes a past they can never examine. They test their ideas about the past within their own concept of what the past was like, and they believe they are actually using the scientific method to make observations about the past.
   Despite the admonition to “question everything” and to “reject” ideas that “don’t pass the test,” the fact that abiogenesis violates the fundamental laws of biology is ignored. Evolutionary blind faith in a “great mystery”—such as that invoked by Bill Nye in the recent Nye-Ham Debate—trumps the scientific method. Why? Because molecules-to-man evolution must have happened for Darwinian notions of origins to be true.”
   And then goes on to tout a “Creation Museum Planetarium production, 'Created Cosmos.' In Created Cosmos we see how we as people of earth stand in relation to the immensity of God’s Creation. So seeing the enormity of what God in His power created, we get a better perspective on God’s great love for us. God made all that we have just seen, told us how and when He did it in His Word, chose to continue loving rebellious human beings, and sent Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into the this world to suffer and die to bear the sin-guilt of us all (Hebrews 2:9–10).” 
   I believe I’ve given Dr. Mitchell more license than her argument deserves. 
    “a past they can never examine.”
   That’s a bold and ill considered observation all in itself. 
   When you look up into the night sky, at the stars, dear readers, you are not looking at the present, you are looking at the distant past. The light emitted from those stars travels at 186,000 miles per second. The distance between the stars is so great that it takes 4.22 years for the light of our nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, to reach the Earth. When you look at Proxima Centauri you are seeing as it was 4.22 years ago, not as it is now. Most of the stars and galaxies that appear in the night sky are much more distant, which in itself disproves (as does radioactive carbon dating of rocks and fossils, and the existence of petroleum products within the Earth) a 6,000 to 10,000 year old Earth hypothesis. The “God Created Everything with the Appearance of Age,” theory is a twidge too self-serving to be considered seriously, and again, there is no evidence.
   Evidence, evidence, evidence! As Dr. Sagan said himself, extraordinary events require extraordinary evidence. Not hearsay, not antidotal, not because it makes us feel better evidence, not because that’s the way we want it to be. We must go where the evidence takes us if we are to truthfully and courageously explore nature and it’s secrets.
   When we detect the cosmic microwave background radiation, we are detecting electromagnetic radiation reaching out to us from the very beginning of our universe,  a few moments after the Big Bang, as far back in time as we can currently see. The recent discovery of gravitational waves is further evidence of our ability to delve deeper into nature’s secrets. 
   “Yet abiogenesis has never been observed in science. Moreover, abiogenesis violates the natural laws that govern everything known to chemical and biological science...  Despite the admonition to “question everything” and to “reject” ideas that “don’t pass the test,” the fact that abiogenesis violates the fundamental laws of biology is ignored.”
   These statements are just patently false. First, just because the formation of living organisms from non-living organic compounds has not been observed does not mean that it didn’t happen. Please remember, the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years old. The first biogenic substances (materials indicating the presence of living organisms) are detected a little more than a billion years after the planet’s formation. Given the right ingredients, and a vast amount of time (which is difficult to duplicate artificially) who knows what can happen? Since life exists on the Earth, and there is no evidence of a creator, abiogenesis is the best explanation of how life originated on this planet (the Panspermia theory that life came to Earth from an extraterrestrial source is plausible, but that theory still begs the question, how did this extraterrestrial life manifest itself?). 
   And the theory of abiogenesis does not violate any laws of biology that I’m aware of. It just has not been observed in a laboratory, and probably never will be given the immense time scale involved. 
   Let’s move on. 
   From Right-Wing Watch last Friday: “The Creationist group Answers In Genesis, which was already incensed about Neil deGrasse Tyson’s revival of Cosmos, is now complaining that the show lacks scientific balance because it fails to provide airtime for evolution deniers. Danny Faulkner of Answers In Genesis and the Creation Museum appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show yesterday to criticize Cosmos for not providing airtime for Creationism adherents. When Mefferd asked if Cosmos will “ever give a Creationist any time,” Faulkner responded by lamenting that “Creationists aren’t even on the radar..”
   More from our old friend Dr. Faulkner: “I don’t recall seeing any interviews with people – that may yet come – but it’s based upon the narration from the host and then various types of little video clips of various things, cartoons and things like that,” he said.
   “Boy, but when you have so many scientists who simply do not accept Darwinian evolution, it seems to me that that might be something to throw in there, you know, the old, ‘some scientists say this, others disagree and think this,’ but that’s not even allowed,” she said.
   I assume the above paragraph was quote from Ms Mefferd.
   This is what Dr. Tyson had to say concerning this “equal balance” claim: “You don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers,” Tyson told CNN. “Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick.”
   “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” is a series of programs concerning science. What Dr. Faulkner, the creationists, and the intelligent designers are offering is not science. They do not employ the methods of science. That’s it! I don’t know how to make it any simpler.  
   They have their own video out apparently, the “Created Cosmos,” mentioned above by Dr. Mitchell. Here’s a link to where you can purchase it from Amazon if you so desire. It’s 22 minutes long and costs between $15 and $20, plus shipping and handling. 
   I have not heard of Dr. Tyson demanding equal time on “Created Cosmos.” Was an offer made to him? I don’t know.
   If these people are so upset about “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” being aired, then let them get the Fox networks, or anyone else, to air “Created Cosmos.” 
   They may need to expand their content a tad to 13 hours or so, but I’m sure they're up to it.
   Most Sunday mornings when I turn on the television I see religious programming. I find it interesting that there is usually a little 800 number down near the bottom of my TV screen where the folks watching at home can call in to give whoever it is who’s preaching money. All of these programs have this in common, give us cash.
   Anyway, this is the forum for what the creationists offer. I don’t see an abundant outrage from the scientific community clamoring for equal time. 
   Even if one were to accept an intelligent design theory as being remotely possible, that theory poses more questions than it answers, such as, where did the designer come from? The designer has always been here you say. What do you mean by always, and if that’s true, why haven’t we always been here, but are only 6,000 to 10,000 years old? The designer works in mysterious ways you say. Why does the designer work in mysterious ways? Where is the designer now? Why doesn’t the designer manifest itself? Is the designer shy? Dead? Drunk?  Asleep at the switch? On and on and on, ad infinitum... Science does not work with theories that utilize the unproven existence of ad infinitum as their foundation. 
   Religion does though.
   It is not my intention to attempt to change anyone’s fundamental beliefs here. What I am presenting is a fact/truth based approach to looking at the cosmos based on science. Creationists tend to live in a self-reinforced multiverse that is unique to them where facts are of little consequence, unless they further their arguments (they’re already trying to assert that the discovery of gravitational waves is proof of God’s existence... because it’s so complicated and all) . I accept that.
   So creationists, you get to advocate your position every week... 52 weeks a year!
   Let science have it’s 13.

Creationists keeping crying.

Neil de Grasse Tyson is Keeping Creationist Up at Night