Friday, February 28, 2003


Nationally renowned and critically acclaimed news site The Onion picks up a local story that's been untold for too long.

Breakup Hints Misinterpreted As Marriage Proposal Hints

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Childish and Divisive Behaviour Disguised as Righteous Indignation

Justin pointed out this story: Danish pizzeria bans French and Germans

I'm sorry, it's an idiotic gesture, here or overseas.

The French and German governments, not their citizens, are blocking military action in the UN. The entire population of those countries - no matter what their perceived attitudes may be - cannot be assumed to hold the same political opinions as a whole. Did the US turn its back on Germany and Japan after WWII? No, we and the other Allies helped the people rebuild. Sure, we had our own interests to protect but there was altruism there also, because that's who we are. Or at least who we were.

What would happen if a white restaurant owner banned black and Asian customers, and painted cute little color-coordinated sillouettes on the floor with lines through them? The discrimination lawsuits would hit so fast his calzones would spin. And rightfully so. There would be nation-wide condemnation.

Sure, it's cute, and oh yes, it's in that cute little European country of Denmark...but as the article says, the tourist season hasn't hit yet. When he starts losing money, those cute little silhouettes will disappear quickly.

All that this anti-French and anti-German attitude that seems to be pervading America (and apparently other countries as well) is doing is creating mistrust when we need trust, divisiveness when we need unity and xenophobia when we need international cooperation. Ok, maybe their governments disagree with us - but if you have a beef about it, take it up with Chirac. Not the people.

Don't return hatred for hatred - we've seen the multitude of problems that solves. Right.

Here's a thought for all the burgeoning Francophobes out there. How would you feel if someone dumped a load of cyanide in the Paris subway system? Or flew a plane into the Eiffel Tower? Would you feel initally sorry at the loss of life, but secretly glad that those French panytwaists got what they deserved? What if an earthquake devastated Berlin, would you genuinely be horrified at the loss of life but privately feel they got what was coming to them? Well, friends, if you're going to hate have the guts to be equal opportunity haters.

Go ahead, America. Harass and make fun of little girls who have different religious beliefs than you. Condemn everyone who may have strong feelings about pacifism as "left-wing peacenik wackos". Call people Anti-American or traitors that don't agree with everything our government says. Start your little boycotts, and your little ad campaigns, and your cute discrimination against those who we need as our allies. Go ahead, hate your neighbor - go ahead, cheat a friend. Do it in the name of the USA, 'cause you can justify it on the radio, in the press, in the blogs, in the streets. Thank you so much for your help, Americans, and thanks for providing this shining example of American brotherhood to the world.

And don't even get me started on "Freedom Fries".

Note: I've talked about this before. Apparently people aren't listening...

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Just Saying...

Scott Ritter, former UN Weapons Inspector in Iraq, spoke at the University of Tennessee yesterday. Sounds like it was quite a rah-rah-fest.

But what the Knoxville News Sentinel failed to mention, and the University seemed to disregard, are these recent, er, questions regarding Mr. Ritter's character (hint: they have nothing to do with Iraq):

Report: Former U.N. Inspector Scott Ritter Arrested in Internet Sex Sting (

Source: Feds look for case against Ritter (

Ritter case has ripple effect (

It seems that someone leaked the sealed court documents to the media in January regarding this case. Apparently to discredit Ritter as his anti-war stances were growing louder and louder. Apparently it didn't work (illegal as it was). Who smeared Scott Ritter? (

Regardless of whether it was leaked, or if it was all just allegation, solicitation of minors is a horrible offense and should not be taken lightly.

PS. One Ritter quote from last night at UT:

"If we go to war with Iraq today, then we are no better than the Nazis when they invaded Poland in 1939," Ritter said in the University Center auditorium...
Words fail me. Interview some Iraqi civilians a few months after the war is over, and compare their stories to Polish civilians in 1940 and see if that's still a true statement.


Keep Focused...

South Knox Bubba brings up a Halls Shopper report on some efforts to get Halls kids out of school to attend an upcoming religious crusade, and notes the similarities between this and the India Tracy case.

I hope everyone keeps in mind that the fact that, while important issues and ones that bear scrutiny, the question whether students should be allowed to attend religious functions on school time is not the central point here. India was allegedly harrassed, abused, advised by teachers not to go against the system, and forced to attend these extra-curricular functions. The important issue is allowing people to pursue their religious beliefs in their own way without fear of retaliation or intimidation, not whether the dominant religious belief should be encouraged. Children are being blatantly denied their Constitutional rights in front of our eyes.

According to the Halls Shopper article, Tennessee Code states that students have a right to express their religious beliefs at school and be absent to participate in religious activities (under the same circumstances they are allowed to express non-religious beliefs). This should, of course, apply to all religions - not just Christianity - and should equally apply to those not wishing to practice or acknowledge the "popular" religion or any religious belief at all. However, there are some who believe that religious rights only apply to one religion - their own. If you don't follow it, you're an outcast, you're not worthy of our respect. It's interesting that India's family practices Paganism, a spiritual belief even less familiar and more mysterious to Christians than Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism. But what's tragic is that those who profess to be Christians openly advocate discrimination and harrassment. This is not Christianity, it never was, and those who profess to follow Christ and actively participate in this discrimination are hypocrites of the worst kind.

That a child is abuse by his or her peers is bad enough. True, they're middle-schoolers and throughout history middle-school has been a living hell for some people who are "different" than others. I don't think much will ever change that. However, when teachers, bus drivers and school administration stand by and allow it happen, either out of fear, complicity, or just plain amusement, it is time to take a stance and make a change. I hope that if the Tracy allegations are true, justice is swift in Union County.

And if we're not careful, it could happen again in Knox County, in Halls. Or in your community.

Believe in Christianity if you will, but know that religious discrimination is immoral, it's illegal, and it can tear communities apart just when we need them to be united the most.

UPDATE: (2/27)

The Knoxville News Sentinel published an editorial on 2/26 that not only keeps the case in the public's eye, but distinguishes as well the two parts of the issue: one regarding separation of church and state, and the other concerning harassment of children because of their religious beliefs. Keep it up, KNS.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Fire Exit Warning

Does anyone remember this spiel that used to run before each and every single movie in the theatres?

"The management of this theatre, in cooperation with the Tennessee State Fire Marshall's office, requests that you look around the theatre and familiarize yourself with the locations of all emergency exits. The aisleways in which you entered, and the passageways designated by the illuminated emergency exits signs, visible to you at either the Right (pause, arrow) or Left (pause, other arrow) of the forward section have been checked and are clear exits from the building in the event of an emergency.

Thank you for your time and attention."
My friends and I would have great fun reciting along with it, Rocky Horror-style, standing up and pointing left and right with the arrows (one of the film clips had the arrows reversed from the soundtrack), and thanking them out loud for bringing it to our attention.

They disappeared several years ago, and were replaced by Pepsi ads, apparently.

The Oak Ridge Playhouse and other theatres are still required to make a fire announcement (usually taped) before a performance. Why was the requirement for movie theatres lifted? Do they make announcements at nightclubs or concerts any more?

I miss them, and probably the folks at the Rhode Island night club would've liked to have seen it before the other night.

Fire exits - know 'em and notice 'em.
How to be a Parent. Or, How Not To. Or Rather...oh, skip it.

Katie Allison Granju has new essays up the joys and perils of parenting. Guns, politics, and letting go. Oh my!

Read 'em...Collect 'em...Trade 'em with your friends!.
Y.M.C.A. and those darn commies...

Sofia Sideshow experiences culture shock in Bulgaria courtesy of the Village People and communism.
"This is True" picks up on India Tracy case

Randy Cassingham edits a weekly internet newsletter entitled "This is True". True reports on bizarre-but-true news items from legitimate newspapers from around the world (never "tabloids"). Each story ends with commentary by Randy -- a tagline which is humorous, ironic or opinionated. (description from his website).

Randy recently reported on the unfortunate situation with India Tracy and the Union County Schools, and received a lot of feedback from his readers. He's posted a summary of the story, his opinion, and some of the letters here.

Thanks, Randy, for helping bring publicity to this story and to help kids like India who are the targets of religious discrimination. I emailed him a link to my commentary, and mentioned the other RTB members who've commented as well.

By the way, the Knoxville News Sentinel has removed the original story from their website - likely due to too much traffic. Right? Right? Hm.

The more attention that is brought to this story, the better.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

America - Greater Than the Sum of its Parts

Michele at A Small Victory issued the challenge, her readers responded from all over the country and Solonor is presenting it in glorious style. What's it like to be an American? Here are the answers, state by state. Bloggers, on America, from the heart.

I submitted some words about what Tennessee means to me - please, take a look and add your own feelings about this beautiful state so many of us love and call home.
From the "No Kidding" Department...

How Republican Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Thank you, that pretty much sums up how a Liberal should be defined.

Thanks to The Last Page
The Stupidest People on the Face of the Earth

Weather permitting, tomorrow morning (well, this morning actually) my wife and I are driving my 7-year-old son and 4 of his 7-year-old friends to Nashville, where we'll visit the Rainforest Cafe and see The Lion King at the Imax Theatre for C's birthday.

Pray for us, for we know not what we getteth ourselves into....

I'll post a report when we get back.

Course, with these storms brewing we may just be sitting at home. I'm stupid, but I'm not a fool to drive through a thunderstorm through the Cumberland Plateau.

UPDATE: (9:45pm)

Trip down: Rain leaving Knoxville, passed burning pickup on I-40, DENSE fog over the plateau, sunny skies toward Cookeville, downpours into Nashville. Kids were good in the van - only one tearburst before we left, and we lasted 10 minutes in the car before the first argument. Typical argument: "HEY, IT'S MY TURN ON THE GAMEBOY!!!"

Nashville: Rainforest Cafe as good as always. Deb mentioned the health problems they had last year, which I remembered but heard they'd cleaned it up. No problems since then, and I would heartlily recommend it to anyone who wants an amazing dining experience. Full of animatronic gorillas, elephants, butterflies amidst a dense foliage and (yes) some mist. Plus every 1/2 hour or so, the lights dim, lightning flashes inside, thunder rolls and the animals go nuts. I want to lobby someone to put one in next to the Gatlinburg Aquarium - it'd be killer.
Lion King in IMAX is amazing. The opening sequence is my favorite Disney moment, and the wildabeast stamped shakes the theatre.

Trip back: Drizzle, cloudy, windy. Typical argument: "HEY, IT'S MY TURN ON THE GAMEBOY!!!"

Tired. Bed. Night.....

Friday, February 21, 2003

Now it all makes sense to me...

This must be why I have aches and pains all over my back, my knees, my arm, my stomach...

Silly me, I thought it was just because I just turned 36! (Or from when my son and I fell down the stairs the other day - but that's another story) Turns out, I'm just terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought! How liberating!

Well, that makes me feel much better, now.

(Thanks Missives Anonymous for the link)

Thursday, February 20, 2003

February Sky - Redux

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece wondering if today's kids were still being inspired in outer space like Homer Hickam and his friends did 50 years ago.

Now it looks like, thanks to terrorists and Homeland Security, it may be more difficult than ever to get the parts to build model rockets. UPS and maybe soon FedEx will stop shipping solid rocket motors in order to comply with the "Safe Explosives Act" embedded in the Homeland Securities Act.

So is my point moot? I don't think so, because I wanted to urge parents to encourage their kids to dream. Dream about the stars, dreams about the ocean, dream about affordable health care or tort reform, it doesn't matter. Just please, help your children find the will to want to change the world. It may be more difficult now to do it with model rockets, but there are other ways - in science, in medicine, in the arts, in anything.

And I think Homer would approve.

Thanks to Instapundit for calling this to my attention. Also, Andrew at Pathetic Earthlings has some further comments.

Well, looks like Glenn Reynolds has finally hit the big time. The Metropulse article is online, and recounts the genesis of "The Little Blogger that Could": Instapundit (yeah, like it really needs a link).

The interview was written by fellow Rocky Top Brigadier, Katie Allison Granju of "Loco Parentis" (which, to me, has always meant "Crazed Parents" - an apt description of myself).

One question: why no mention of the good old Brigade, Katie?

One final thought - is it just me, or does Glenn look like Tony Dimera from Days of our Lives?

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

"Project Gemini" - New plan in the works to update EPCOT

Jim Hill gives us a preview of what Walt Disney Imagineers have cooked up for a proposed redesign of EPCOT Center's Futureworld - renaming it "Discoveryland" and adding or upgrading a host of attractions. Take a look if you're a Disney fan....

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The Scenario

Bill Hobbs paints an interesting and frightening picture of what events may unfold in other parts of the world after the invasion of Iraq begins.

My question is, if such a scenario comes to pass - or a similar one - who will be the first one courageous or historic enough to dub the conflict World War III? It would truly be a World War, with fronts both in the Middle East and Far East, with of course the entire world being a terror front at the same time. While for years, popular visions of WWIII have almost all included nuclear exchanges by the superpowers this may be closer to reality.

Interestingly enough, for Star Trek fans out there this scenario is actually quite close to the one envisioned for The Eugenics Wars, which brought Khan Noonien Singh (as in, "The Wrath of Khan") to power and ultimately exile. Kind of strange when you think about it, if you're into such things....
This Just In...

Bill to pay Nebraska football players advances

"A proposal to pay Nebraska's football players cleared a legislative hurdle Tuesday. The Business and Labor Committee voted unanimously to advance the measure for debate before the full Legislature. State Sen. Ernie Chambers' bill would require a stipend be paid to the Cornhuskers' football players if three other states in the Big 12 Conference pass similar laws. Other states in the conference are Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Texas and Iowa"
In related news: The Alabama Legislature just passed a bill changing yellow and blue to make purple, the Colorado State Senate has sent back to committee a measure required water molecules to add an additional atom of oxygen, and...oh yes, Ohio has just repealed the law of gravity.

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Religious Persecution in East Tennessee...Who'd-a Thunk It?

I have been remiss for not commenting earlier, but this story about a little girl's harassment over her religious differences is too important to ignore.

Union County has long been one of the more conservative regions of East Tennessee - which is saying a lot for this area. However, not a lot of stories make it out of the rural back roads into mainstream Knoxville press and it's good when one finally does.

You can almost feel the winds shifting as one drives North Knox County up Broadway through Black Oak Ridge, onto Maynardville Highway and through Halls Crossroads to the Union County Line. I feel uncomfortable writing about it in some ways because a lot of my family is from Union County, and some still live in the Halls area. They are good folks, and this is not directed at them.

But, Union County seems to have developed a fast and loose affiliation between church and state, and in the case of the India Tracy above not conforming to the "state-supported religion", aka Christianity, can cause undue hardship and ridicule. Children like India are persecuted by classmates while their teachers and administrators tacitly look on and condone their actions. Our country was founded on the principles of religious freedom, where anyone anywhere can choose which religion to follow - if any at all. However, to Konservatives Kristians these principles do not apply and anyone who is not a Kristian can be harassed, forced to attend Bible classes, and attacked. Her lawsuit against against the Union County School System states that after writing a paper on religious freedom -- religious freedom!! -- India was advised by a teacher to "keep quiet because you'll get in trouble".

You see, in most cases these folks -- and other, higher profile Kristians like John Ashcroft -- have simply misled themselves into believing they are actually Christians. They just aren't, because while they may embrace some of the easier parts of being a Christian...helping the needy, being a good person....they're missing a central tenet - "Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself". Five simple words that mean the difference between a young girl feeling comfortable enough in her religion (or lack of it) that she lives and learns beside other kids to whom her spiritual beliefs are simply points of conversation and not incitements to bigoted discrimination. I think that's the way the Christ I know would handle it...

I would like to see churches in Knox County - on the whole, less conservative than Union County overall but still with a ways to go - do something about their counterparts to the north. Just as we've seen an incident of racial intimidation in West Knox County recently (as SayUncle - here, here, and here - and South Knox Bubba - here and here - have ably kept us up to date on), I think there are opportunities for citizens of Knox County to reach out and communicate to victims of intolerance that not all of us have these same bigoted opinions, we're going to actively work to making our area a better place to live, and that you are welcome here with us.


UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds, LeanLeft, and Loco Parentis have also weighed in. Spread the gospel, brothers and sisters....
Just In Case You Were Wondering...

It's now officially been 47 days, and apparently no officers have yet been publicly disciplined, reprimanded, or chastised by either the Tennessee Highway Patrol or the Cookville Police Department, and there seem to have been no changes in policies or procedures related to the Smoak terrorizing/dog shooting incident of Jan 1, 2003. In fact, so far only the dispatcher involved has been disciplined.

A letter to the editor in today's Knoxville News Sentinel reminds us that the real tragedies aren't just the shooting of their dog, but also the tactics and methods used in their detention were way out of line. (Caveat: The letter itself goes overboard in comparing the importance of the incident to abortion and Orwellian future, so take the rest with a grain of salt). Still, I hope this situation is resolved soon before something like this happens again.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Billboard of the Rings

Evidently, this idea is more widespread than I thought ;)

Protesters push anti-war slogans - 2 buildings vandalized at UT; banner placed on West Knoxville billboard

-- Via the Knoxville News Sentinel

Shout Out

Welcome visitors from Missives Anonymous. Thanks for sharing the love, Danielle!

Dippin' Dots: The Ice Cream of the Future. These things have been around in theme parks and malls for decades...well, it's the future. I don't see any freakin' dots in my gallon of Mayfield's! What's your explanation, future-boy???

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Carnival of the Vanities #21 is Online

Travel to for this weeks sampling of blogger articles from around the web.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003


Thanks out to Bert's Blog for some link traffic. Back atcha!
Jackson's Reply

I realize this is old news by now, but Michael Jackson has fired back at Martin Bashir, the man who interviewed him for the BBC (and ABC). However, most telling, is a quote from the story:

"...I am bewildered at the length to which people will go to portray me so negatively.... I will say again that I have never, and would never, harm a child. It sickens me that people have written things that portray me as a child abuser."
Michael, Michael, my friend, listen to me. Come here, sit down - this is going to be painful but you need to hear it.

I believe you have the best interests of children at heart. You had a bad childhood (who didn't?) and you want to make sure that it never happens to your children. Well, friend, the life you have given - are giving - your children is a form of child abuse. You don't realize it, it's not malicious, but it comes from your own immaturity and arrogance to believe a child can raise a child. It can't happen, and can only result in pain for everyone involved.

People are portraying you negatively not because of any strange resentment to you personally - your behaviour towards yourself, your children, and others around you is intolerable in main-stream society. We want to protect our children and help them grown into mature, reasonable sensible adults. It is very clear that in your attempts to raise your kids, you are going to literally love them to death. Masking their faces, concealing their heritage - is that what you would've wanted all those years traveling with the Jackson 5 and trying to please your father? What lengths will you force them to go to to please you when they're older? If they don't display some musical or other real creative talent, will you attempt to force them into that role? Or worse, will you completely shelter them from the world so they get no true life experiences?

Michael, if you love children, and you love your own children, give them their lives back. And maybe, just maybe, you'll find your own again.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Second Star to the Right, and Straight on till Hell

I finally got to watch the Michael Jackson interview after taping it Thursday night. As a father, I felt immense sadness and pity for his three children. I say his - I'm not convinced in the least they are his own biological children but they all seem to be in his custody. Until they're of legal age, these kids will never know a public life without a mask or veil.

Jackson never learned that you have children not to "complete" yourself, or indulge in their innocence. Children are to be taught, raised, nurtured and loved so that they become caring, functional adults. Jackson treats his and other children as playthings, wind-up toys that come and go at his whim and perform their innocent performances for his amusement. He longs for the childhood he thinks he lost in his own home - one of toys, games, amusement park rides, and trips to the zoo. He thinks nothing of the effect an entertainer's lifestyle has or will have on them. He seems to fear for their safety if they were to go out, unmasked, without him. He feels certain the media crush that follows him will follow them as well. Unfortunately, it's a self-perpetuating fear that keeping them out of his life would solve.

It appears that as long as they are with him, they have worth. If he were to give them up for adoption it would be intolerable to him because without kids he and they would have no identity. They are defined only in terms of him: Michael Jackson, father. The kids might be free in other circumstances to play outside with other kids and show their faces in public, but in Jackson's self-built family he must have children and so there they stay.

His stories of how Prince and Paris' moms (they may have been the same person) "gave him gifts of a child", and that Paris' mother encouraged him to take the baby home immediately are absolutely chilling. It gives the idea he did just the opposite - he took the children for himself without free consent from the mom, but his "people" were able to effectively convince her it was in her "best interests." And, of course, little "Blanket" just appears so he can be fed like a doll and dangled so his own adoring fans can "feel his spirit". This is a man using children as objects to justify his own existance.

I can't help wondering if things keep going the way they have, he'll have his own ready-made singing group in about 5-10 years... That or he'll start calling them Wendy, John and Michael.

I hope as a result of this interview that someone, somewhere will take the initiative to get these children away from Jackson. Either by legal means or some kind of moral persuasion.... I wonder who in the world Jackson looks up to? Liz Taylor? Diana Ross? Who exists that would try to talk sense into Michael Jackson? Probably no one, and for that his redemption is likely hopeless.

He may still feel that he's 10 years old, but most 10-year-olds still have parental figures for discipline, guidance, understanding and love. Jackson seems to have never had this, and still doesn't and as such will never grow up.

Nothing to crow about here. Just cry.

Friday, February 07, 2003

The Two Towers

Finally, tonight, after long last I'm going to see The Two Towers. Dinner and a movie with friends - ain't America great!

UPDATE: Oh. My. God.
The French Connection

Just a few words of wisdom here, off the top of my head. I usually shy away from the war stuff, but this goes beyond the mainstream...

In the last few weeks, the leadership of France have protested the move towards military action in Iraq. This has led many in the US to (justifiably or not) to publicly decry their stance. Outright declarations of hatred and scorn dot both the mainstream media and the blogscape, with some calling for the US to pull out of NATO and that France is no longer an ally. The French are becoming for some the new Russians.

We, or at least I, have not seen what the word of the street is regarding this stance in Paris, Bordeaux, Nice, Lyon, Toulouse, or other French cities. It's conventional wisdom that the vast majority of the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea - while admittedly under oppressive regimes - do not agree with their leader's actions or positions. However, I try to remember that even a democratically elected leader can have his or her own agenda that doesn't necessarily reflect the will of the majority. He may sincerely believe it's in his country's best interest. Clinton thought a massive governmental Healthcare program was a necessity, although almost everyone in the country opposed it. Even GWB2's call for military action against Iraq has provoked more dissent in the US than most would have assumed going in.

Remember the vast majority of citizens are innocent Joe's, trying to make their way in the world. They may have political opinions - all of us do, I guess - but the main concern is feeding their family and making sure there's heat in the house and clothes to wear. Do you hate this guy?

A lot was made of finding the opinions of American Arabs and Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. We gave them every chance to express their own horror at the actions of their former countrymen. Has their been a similar effort to get the opinions of Americans of French descent?

France has been an American ally, a key member of NATO, a charter member of the UN and part of the cradle of Western Civilization for decades and centuries. A dissolution of diplomatic ties with such a historic ally over their support on one issue (as massive as the issue is) would be tragic.

UPDATE: Jane of "The Daily Rant" agrees with me, but for some slightly different reasons.
SayUncle Shamelessly Promotes Himself

SayUncle has a few words of advice for bloggers searching for more recognition and more links. Hey, wow, even conservatives and liberals can help each other - it's just like Congress!

Ok, maybe not.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

A Little Golden Book (on the rocks, with a twist)

This post has been removed.
Welcome, Carnival of the Vanities Readers

Carnival of the Vanities #20 is online and is linking to my observation about rockets, children and dreaming. I 'd like to welcome all those visiting for the first time, and to invite you to come back!

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

IOTLH "Dead Zone" Comments

No spoiler space here - read at your own peril:

"The Outsider" (Feb 2, 2003)

  • It's great that they don't feel obligated to give all the regulars fairly equal time from show to show - Bruce wasn't even in the last two episodes, and Walt and Sarah were only in this one at the end. It makes more sense story-wise not to have them appearing just for the sake of appearing. Do we see every friend we have every day?

  • I actually thought that having the old lady at the grocery store be the spy was a reach. Who was she, surveillance-van-boy's mom? Did he have to have her and the van back home by 8 so she could watch Touched By an Angel?

  • I loved Johnny watching videos of old TV shows to "catch up". I hope Bruce is merciful and "loses" the Dogget/Reyes years of X-Files ;)

  • Echoing back to the bank hostages episode last season, we see Johnny's interventions actually making things worse at points. One of these days, he's going to really screw something up and someone's going to get hurt. It may be something actually quite innocent, which would be even more tragic.

  • I love the way references to Stillson and the end-of-the-world vision are sprinkled around. I do have a question about the timeline, though. Johnny's vision of the future court case where he first sees Thomas Berke is in 2009. There he hears reference to "Vice President Stillson". Since Stillson is campaigning for Congress, and we assume he'll win. I don't know what the cycle is for Congressional elections is in Maine, but let's assume he wins in 2004. I guess it would be too soon to be part of a presidential
    ticket in 2004, so best guess is he and the president win in 2008. (Of course he could be appointed, but that's not relevent). Anyway, the point being that in 2009 he's still VP, and the world is not yet destroyed (i.e. D.C. is not in ruins). It just seems to be a good bit farther away for Stillson to get to the presidency that I would have thought the producers were aiming for. Assuming the president doesn't die in office (and I wouldn't put it past Stillson to have a hand in it) he couldn't be president until 2012 at the earliest.

    That's just a long-reaching timeline...which means the show (which will most likely not run 9+ years) and Johnny will be dealing with Stillson much earlier in his political run. Just an interesting decision to have made.

  • The tone of the episode changed completely at the Thomas/Claire lunch date scene - I was worried it was going to develop into a romantic comedy as two bumbling MIT grads find love with each other. Ahhh, Nerds in Love :)

  • Not only has Johnny saved the lives of thousands of unborn babies, had it not been for the closing scene of Thomas and Claire's real baby being born I would have thought he had doomed their relationship anyway. If Johnny hadn't intervened, Thomas would've spent a couple more years in his self-imposed exile until circumstances led him to meet up again with Claire. What personal demons did he have to exorcise within himself in that original timeline to come to the point of pursuing a relationship with her, getting married and having a child in 5 years? Now that Johnny's done all the legwork for him, Thomas doesn't have to mature and you would have thought it would
    lend doubts to the relationship working at this point. But, oh well, guess everyone lived happily ever after anyway.

    Yeah, I think about these things too much ;)

    Very good episode. I give it a 7/10.
  • Bliss

    Reading fairy tales to your three year old daughter before she goes to bed.. ;)

    Sunday, February 02, 2003

    Cool. I'm a Conspiracy Theorist and Didn't Even Know It...

    My site's been referenced several times from Google by people requesting info on this series of words:

    "columbia space shuttle al-queda"

    Or some such combination. When in reality, what it's finding and linking for is this.

    Snicker ;)
    Tossing me a softball...

    From the "Letters to the Editor" page in today's Knoxville News Sentinel (scroll down a bit to find the whole letter):

    "...The only problem I have with the snow around here are the people who go shopping for bottled water and canned food when we're only getting one day of snow. I had to wait 15 minutes just to buy my daily pack of Marlboros, and it makes me sad to see people wasting money on the fear that they may not be able to drive anywhere for at least 24 hours...."
    David Allen Garrett Jr.

    You know, sometimes a good replies to people who send idiotic stuff to the paper just writes itself.... I'll let you compose your own.
    Couple Sue McDonald's Over Tough Bagel

    If there were any justice, McDonald's official response should be:

    "Bite me"
    February Sky

    Several years ago, A great portion of the movie "October Sky" was filmed in East Tennessee. The movie, based on the autobiographical novel "The Rocket Boys" by Homer Hickam, was the story of the author and his teenage friends as they built their own home-based rocket system back in the mid-50's West Virginia mining town of Coalfield. Homer was inspired to start building rockets at the first sight of Sputnik flying overhead - while others in the town were paranoid about what this might mean to their's and the country's security, Homer saw only the wonder and promise of space travel and rocketry.

    I knew several people who got parts in the movie, and a number of the scenes were filmed in places I was familiar with - a large exhibition building at our state fairgrounds, and the exterior of my Junior High School. I seem to recall the movie did fairly well, and was critically well-received.

    Some time after the movie came out I bought Hickam's follow up novel, "The Coalwood Way". For some reason it sat on my bookshelf unread until, lacking anything else to read, I picked it up last month and started in. Hickam calls it "not a sequel, but an equal", meaning the action of the novel takes place more or less at about the same time as "The Rocket Boys". This set of novels outlines Hickam's hard work to get him where he always wanted to be - working as an engineer for NASA.

    I don't know what compelled me to pick it up, but I'm glad I did. I'm also halfway through re-watching October Sky on video.

    Sometimes I wonder if that young boy dream of flying in space still exists today like it used to. When I was young, it was a major source of thought and dreaming - accelerated by such things as Star Wars and Star Trek. I wanted nothing more than to somehow get into space. Even today, I still would go in a moment's notice if given the chance - dangers fully accepted.

    So how do kids these day view space travel? Do they too yearn to slip the surly bonds of Earth? Or is it more important to get the high score on GTA III? Or go see the latest Farrelly Brothers movie? Or score a hit? Or give their boyfriends/girlfriends HIV? Or shoot up their classmates and teachers in a haze of goth angst?

    What do the Homer Hickams of today dream of?

    There's a corollary to this. In today's Knoxville News Sentinel (ominously absent of course of any Columbia news) the weekly column of Family Advice Giver James Dobson mentions that too many of today's youths who come from the inner city are products of broken homes, victims of abuse and neglect, sleeping in bathtubs to avoid random drive-by shootings. He doesn't mention it, but kids in the suburbs also suffer neglect, abuse, and can be ignored by their otherwise successful parents. I'm certain there is probably a boy or girl alive today who, had they been nurtered properly by loving parents, would have someday cured cancer, perfected cold fusion, ended world hunger or composed the world's most beautiful music since Mozart. These kids aren't given a chance to dream, because they're taught they shouldn't dream - that dreams are for the weak. Only the strongest survive - the ones able to best their rivals today get to move on to that next level, and the others die. On the streets, in the hood, in the gated communities, it's the same - children everywhere are denied their chance to dream.

    I desparately want my children to dream. I want them to see wonder in the world, and to know they can change things - they have to have courage, yes. They have to take chances and they must take risks. They may not be popular, they may not fit in with the crowds, but the reward is so wonderful and the need for dreamers is so great that the risk is always worth it. It's worth it. I actively look for ways to make my kids see the wonder - I only hope I can open the gates for them and let them go through.

    It's ironic I finished Hickam's novel only about a week ago and all this is fresh on my mind. It's equally ironic that in a span of six days, spread out over four decades, we have seen the deaths of seventeen astronauts. Each of these brave men and women dreamed of space when they were kids, they saw the worthiness and value of space travel and acted on their dreams. Each has their own story, of course, but they all grew up being allowed to dream, and encouraged to do so. And for that I am grateful, and in their debt.

    Do we have the courage to do the same for our children, as their parents did for them?

    Could my son, or my daughter, or someone else's son or daughter be the first human to step foot on Mars?

    Dream a little dream with me.

    Godspeed, Columbia.

    UPDATE: Rich is teaching his kids to dream and now one wants to be an astrophysicist. Anyone else?