This TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson, which posits that creativity should have equal prominence in public education as literacy, is just marvelous. I especially like the part about the drawing of God by a child.

And while we’re on the subject of God, check out two science humour pieces I wrote a while back that suggest how lucky the scientific world is that certain passages didn’t make their way to the bible (one for stem cell research, and the other for evolutionary biology).

KidAThe song you are listening to is the title track of a Billboard number one CD. The song and CD specifically written and dedicated to the first putative human clone.
(Billboard stats link | audio)

Thom Yorke apparently said this*:

POSTED BY Thom ON JULY 30, 2000 AT 23:39:21:
IN REPLY TO: Thom, why Kid A?
dedicated to the first human clone.
i bet it has already happened.

Basically, illustrative of just how pervasive some of this “science” stuff is in popular culture. In fact, I do remember one particular summer (2002 specifically) when a Star Wars, a Star Trek, and a James Bond movie, all had genetic undertones in the plot.

CONTROL MASTER@VEER

Veer has a lovely animated movie made by Run Wrake, that uses CSA Images (a separate stock art affiliate of the Charles S. Anderson Design Company, which creates images inspired by the highs and lows of art and printed culture: 20th-century advertising cuts, the tactile look of ink on paper, pulp and vintage themes, and American modernism). Go here to watch.

plasticbottleschrisjordan02Plastic Bottles, 2007 (60×120″) – Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.

This great visual from Chris Jordan is incredibly effective, especially if you compose the slides to zoom out the striking image. Apart from the whole consumption point of view, I also use this aesthetic to comment on technology in general – as in, yes, plastics make things awful convenient, but taken to elevated and collected levels, look at what that convenience amounts to.
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1. In Spite of Ourselves – John Prine and Iris DeMent, 2. We Will Become Silhouettes – The Shins, 3. Don’t Dream It’s Over (acoustic) – Neil Finn.

nudemousewithearThere exists a Nude mouse which is a mouse strain that has no hair and also no immune system. These mice have been used for the production of human ears.

I usually talk about this, because it’s a good example of how media can often coerse the reader/viewer to come to premature conclusions. You see, I find most of the audience will make one of two responses: either an “EEWWW” response, or a “THAT’S COOL” response. In any event, you would of gotten the sense from mainstream articles when this first went to press that perhaps this was a real human ear, and you could even whisper into the back of this poor mouse to garner a response.
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tomcruisefootprintAssuming that (a) Tom Cruise’s level of consumption is in parallel with his annual salary*, and that (b) everyone on earth has the opportunity to live like Tom Cruise: we would need 2700 Earths to sustain this level of consumption?

2700 fricking Earths! (based on average salary stats in Canada, and the estimation of Tom Cruise’s salary based on articles seen in sources such as Forbes, etc)

In reality, this is a totally inappropriate way of figuring out an EF value (that is using salary as an indicator), but it does present an interest question. That is – what would the consumption levels of an unwary celebrity be? The kind that thrives on “blingbling” Oscar bags, flies planes and races cars as a hobby? (Someone should take this on as a project, I’m sure there’s people out there with access to the day to day of celebrities, or maybe even via some of blogs that are out there).
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replicationad Evidence shows that mice are attracted to their mates based on genetic diversity. This they can somehow tell from the smell of their urine. There is also currently some weak evidence that humans indirectly do the same thing.
(accompanying graphic)

Ancestral and recombinant 16-locus HLA haplotypes in the Hutterites. (1999) Immunogenetics 49:p491

In which human mate selection appears to be determined by genetics afterall. This study was done using a small community (Hutterites) since carefully controlled human mate matching and observation would be unethical – at least without reality TV.
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1. no sunlight (acoustic) – death cab for cutie, 2. cold december – matt costa, 3. challengers – new pornographers.

WELCOME TO POPPERFONT

Just a quick beginning post. Mostly to say that this website is primarily intended to track my writings, organize the crazy slides that I use when giving talks, and maybe make a 3 song music mix once in a while.

The name? Well, “Popper” as in Karl Popper, as in science (generally), and “font” as in fonts – especially the pretty ones.

[McSweeney’s, June 5th, 2008 – link]

1. Hydrochloric-Acid-Filled Piñatas

Good: Have the sturdy construction required to ensure no unintended leakage of contents.

Bad: Possible severe burning. Brings the party down.

2. Endangered-Animal Piñatas

Good: Kids love animals. High potential for very cute-looking piñatas, like baby seals, for instance.

Bad: Beating with a stick sort of sends the wrong message.

3. Particle-Accelerator Piñatas

Good: Built full-scale and often several miles in dimension. Therefore, young children find them easy to hit.

Bad: Each one worth several billion dollars. Parents generally not keen on damaging them.

4. Smallpox (Variola major) Piñatas

Good: Cool virus shape.

Bad: Highly contagious and high mortality rate. Would also bring party down—as well as everyone else within a 100-mile radius.

5. Infinity-Symbol Piñatas

Good: Possibly a way to address the often reported decline of mathematics education.

Bad: Thinking about infinity makes my head hurt. Now imagine having to explain it to a child over and over again.

6. Piñatas in the Shape of the USA and Filled With the Greenhouse Gas Carbon Dioxide

Good: Sort of work as a metaphor for the United States’ role in the global-warming crisis.

Bad: Unfortunately, the irony would be totally wasted on a 5-year-old.

WHY I DO SCIENCE

[Science Creative Quarterly, May 16th, 2008 – link]

When I look out my office window, I see two sets of nucleotide bases – guanine and cytosine. I don’t mention this as an admission of psychotic delirium. The building where I work just happens to have a DNA molecule emblazoned on its windows. Admittedly, it’s an odd workplace view, but in my case it fits.

I’m a molecular geneticist—genomics, gene expression, cloning, and the rest of that good stuff – and these little guys are some of the fundamentals of what I study. In many ways, my field is actually about the flow of information in genes; how a code is represented in that mother of all blueprints and gets read to construct something so detailed and nuanced as life. My area of interest is how the information in that chain is used and communicated. It almost always happens in the same way; DNA to RNA to protein. It’s as good a slogan as any, and from time to time we even get to call it dogma.

More important than this dogma, is the way my field appears to me to be so much bigger than the molecules I study. Molecular genetics represents some of the most exciting, profound, communal, and frightening aspects of the collective scientific endeavor. Its speed of advancement defies belief, and its effects on the social, cultural, political and economical issues of the day do not afford the luxury of ignorance.

That’s why I sit at my desk and look at that DNA; to remind myself of the larger importance of those molecules on my window not only to myself, but to everyone else. I see that I am a participant in a greater flow of information—from expert to layman, from creating the trenches where research happens to leading the tours that engage our local community.

I suppose this isn’t a fashionable reason to do science. Perhaps a more proper reason is to talk of the glory and honor of being “first” —the first to discover, to see, to understand. But in my mind, that privilege is severely limited to just one or a few. Frankly, I have my sights on something bigger: a privilege that can be shared with as many people as possible; to make science come alive.

Scientist to citizen to decisions made – wouldn’t that make a lovely dogma as well?

[The Walrus, March 2008]

Dear 0.7%

Let me say that it is an honour to make your acquaintance! Congratulations on having been chosen as the target percentage of GDP rich countries should send in foreign aid to support developing nations. You should be extremely proud of yourself, having beat out 0.6 and 0.8 by the slimmest of margins — just 0.1. And 0.8 did a very strong audition, performing a number — the musical kind — from The Lion King. But your rendition of “SexyBack” captured the right mood.

Using you as a benchmark for foreign aid is brilliant — what could be easier than wealthy nations contributing 0.7% of their gross domestic product to alleviate the problems of the Third World? But the cold, hard fact, my friend, is that nobody is taking 0.7% seriously. So let me tell you what we have in mind, branding-wise.

For starters, there is the whole math thing. It’s a buzz kill. Who can multiply a number by 0.7 on the fly? And — no offence — you’re not easy to work with, like “10” or “2.” Or a hundred! A hundred’s golden. But would you read a book called 0.7 Years of Solitude? And, technically, you’re like, 1/100th of 0.7 — you’re a series of calculations that can stop a good-hearted impulse in its tracks:

“Hey, our GDP is lookin’ good. Let’s flip Somalia something for digging wells or whatever . . . let’s see, 0.7% of $68 billion is . . . (government minister counts on fingers of both hands for thirteen or fourteen minutes) . . . oh, never mind. Let’s go with the guy who sent us those wildlife calendars instead . . .”

The other thing is, although you’re offbeat, you lack brand recognition. Ask anyone to pick out an exciting number, and nobody will say “zero-point-seven.” You certainly don’t have the brooding complexity of pi, the lonely mystery of zero, or the loud celebrity of “ONE MILLION!” Those kind of figures just sell themselves. You’re Wilco playing to the High School Musical crowd.

And what about longevity? I know you’ve been around since 1969, with your big-gun, United Nations birth cred, and that you were part of the UN Millennium Development Goals, a show that had some legs. You were right with Lester Pearson. Still, it’s hard to see you as a franchise:

Return of the 0.7
1.7
2 × 0.7
0.8

Do you see what I’m getting at? They all suck. And I think they would still suck even if you could get Will Ferrell to play 0.7 as conjoined twins, 0.35 and 0.35. Even taking 10.3 guys out of the cast of Ocean’s Eleven. It doesn’t matter — the sequel titles just kill it.

The number seven does have some pedigree, so it’s not necessarily the fault of your digits. Nobody has your digits, and I mean that. The trick is to fall on the good side of the marketing equation. Here, you can minimize aligning yourself with, for instance, deadly sins, years it takes to itch, and, at all costs, avoid the dwarf debacle (although Snow White and the 0.7 Dwarves does have a kind of morbid appeal). Instead, to promote you we’ll be leaning more toward wonders of the ancient world, magnificent cowboys, handy convenience stores, and possibly even ambiguous-tasting lemony-limey soft drinks.

What does “007” bring to mind? Lovely ladies and gunplay, that’s what. And 0.7%? Combined with the acronym GDP, with its slight urological overtones? I’m thinking HIV pandemics and abject poverty. Depressing. Maybe instead of being “licensed to kill,” we can position you as being “licensed to save.” Whatever. Clearly, we have to work on it.

I think our best bet might be live performance — something along the lines of Dancing with the Stars, with lots of glitter and skin — in which you compete with some highly visible celebrities looking to add the Third World to their resumés. The idea is, 0.7% as the misfit decimal, the little engine that could, just like Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls. We’re gonna make them love you!
Thoughts?

Best,
Bernie Gottfried
Fractional Talent
Los Angeles

[Science Creative Quarterly, February 1st, 2008 – link]

SAN FRANCISCO – This was my first pirate store. Amusing because “pirates” is not a subject that often comes up, especially given my role as a scientist looking for unconventional ways to “talk science.” Therefore, to speak of a geneticist (my particular area of expertise) visiting a place of commerce that sells buckles, lard, and eye patches might sound a little absurd – or at least a trifle mysterious. However, I think the staff at the Pirate store would probably prefer to call it creative, because there you have it – the store is actually a front for a centre known as 826 Valencia, one of the homes of a non-profit organization aimed at inspiring the development of writing and literacy skills in young children, particularly with an element of creativity involved.

And at this place, imagination certainly abounds. When you first walk into the pirate store, you feel as if you’ve entered the deep of an old ship, so much so, that you may find yourself a touch unsteady from the phantom movement of phantom waves. Looking around you, you see pirate products of benefit. Sensible things that a pirate might need, like spy glasses, loaded die, and flags. This is not the place to purchase a parrot because there is a good chance that you might be challenged, “where’s the utility in that?” There are also many signs, like “IF DECK IS SALTY THERE WILL BE LASHINGS” or “NO ASKING ‘WHAT KIND OF BIRD IS THAT – THE REAL PRETTY ONE?” which whilst appear to be discouraging in intent, actually lure you in further. This is important, because behind the salty facade is the heartbeat of the operation – a large space designed with a comforting mix of warmth, creativity and eccentricity, a space for writing.

I was there to meet the staff and to explore the mechanics of the literacy center, curious to see if science and environmental literacy could be included in the mix. There were others there as well, about ten in total, who had also made the trip to learn what all the fuss was about. Interestingly, many of them were from Denver, ironic because I would have thought that Denver should have been pretty immune from pirates. To say the least, the center’s stats are very impressive. 826 Valencia has a network of over 1000 volunteers, and the space functions well as an all purpose tutorial center, with their doors open each afternoon, often to as many 50 school children. They come to the pirate place because they know it’s a place where they can find help with their writing, perhaps their long division, or they come because it’s simply a place to socialize in the company of caring attentive adults. As well, 826 Valencia is privy to about 100 fieldtrips each year, essentially engaging over 2000 young writers in this element of their programming.

During the visit, we got to see one of these fieldtrips in action – actually, their most popular one, being a session on “Storytelling and Bookmaking” which is usually presented to 7 to 11 year olds. Here, Jory, their Programs Coordinator, led the group of us through this activity.

“O.K. what do we need in a story? What’s important for a story?” he would query. And we would dutifully mention, “characters.” He would then continue, “What else? What about a setting? Denver? No? What about the character’s greatest wish? The character’s greatest fear? Does the character need a sidekick?” and so on. All the while, this dialogue would generate a flurry of activity from two other workshop staff members: one who was typing down the working text before our very eyes, the page projected on the wall in front of us; and the other who was obviously chosen for her artistic talent, sketching out an image that was impressive by any measure. Best of all, there was also a fourth actor, literally an actor, who played the part of “Mr Blue.” Mr Blue was an angry and critical ambient voice that came from above in the attic. You never actually saw him. More importantly, he was the editor of this entire affair.

NO NO NO! I NEED THE STORY NOW!

DOES IT HAVE CONFLICT? I NEED CONFLICT!

WHAT CHARACTERS DO YOU HAVE? I’M NOT SURE I LIKE THAT CHARACTER!

DID YOU COPY THAT FROM SOMEHWERE? I’M NOT GOING TO PUBLISH STUFF THAT’S BEEN COPIED!

Every so often, Jory would update Mr. Blue on the story that we were creating, and we would hear the curmudgeon bark back his point of view. On occasion, Jory would ask one of us to update on his behalf. I can only imagine what this must be like for a child – scary, yet ultimately empowering, because at the end of it all, the child will get to take home a book where they were part of the creative process, and a book that had passed Mr. Blue’s obviously high standards. Go figure – just like the publishing world.

In any event, the book we produced was interesting to say the least. Our character was a female janitor in need of a leg prosthetic, who worked in a recycling depot, and had also managed to engineer a bicycle out of recycled garbage so that she could go in search of the aforementioned leg. As well, the text was written in such a way as to end in a cliffhanger, with the intent that we (the students) would be able to finish off the story ourselves. The book looked wonderful – the pictures produced were awesome, and the whole aesthetics was just something to marvel at. You got the impression that even something like the font was chosen very carefully.

Later on, I had a chance to talk briefly to Dave Eggers, he of the hip and young bestselling novelist set, and also one of the founders of the literacy center. It was difficult broaching the subject of science at that particular opportunity. Often, I can draw a bit of attention to myself, simply by being a geneticist, but I don’t think I really made much of an impression. What can I say – it’s hard to compete when there are pirates around.

Still, looking back, I’m optimistic about scientific and environmental literacy working in a similar context. After all, the story we produced did have a female janitor in need of a leg prosthetic, who worked in a recycling depot, and had also managed to engineer a bicycle out of recycled garbage so that she could go in search of the leg…

[Science Creative Quarterly, November 30th, 2007 – link]

One of the first things that a newborn experiences is not necessarily the warmth and scent of the mother’s embrace, but rather a series of pokes and pricks to ascertain health and mental alertness. It therefore seems to me that a natural progression of this trend is to incorporate the highest medical predictive technology into an infant’s normal surroundings. In other words, it seems obvious to me that sooner or later everyone will have their own molecular genetics lab in their household – most likely adjoining the kitchen.

But, of course, with this new standard of living, steps must be taken to ensure the safety of the child. As a result, I’d like to take a moment and share some of the babyproofing tips that have worked in my household.

– – –

1. Glassware
Thankfully, most of the up to date laboratories rely mostly on sterile plastic ware, so danger due to broken glassware is generally not an issue. As a bonus, your child will likely learn the word “centrifuge” at a remarkably early age.

2. Chemicals
Preferably, all chemicals should be stored in a place that is safely out of reach to prying hands. However, if this is not possible, there should be active steps to label the chemicals according to their hazard level. Color-coding does not work unless the child is at least 2 years of age and capable of identifying colors. In fact, we found that the most effective way of labeling is to adhere Disney characters correlating scariness to relative toxicity. For instance, a picture of Thumper would work well with Sodium Bicarbonate, whereas a picture of scary ass Ursula (from the Little Mermaid) would work well with Arsenic compounds. WARNING: do not use pictures of Goofy as infant responses vary greatly.

3. Flammable Reagents
Playing with fire is dangerous at any age, but especially more so in the presence of highly flammable liquids like ethanol and methanol. Although normally kept safely behind the doors of special non-flammable metal cabinets, this is still a problem area since most of your child’s fridge magnets will reside here as well. What worked well for us was to take our child’s favorite stuffed toy at their earliest impressionable age (about 4 to 6 months), douse it in one of these solutions, and set flame to it. A bit hardcore, but it worked.

4. Radioactive Area
The radioactive area is tricky since it usually incorporates two common pieces of equipment that are extremely attractive to youngsters. These are, of course, the Geiger counter (has a handle, buttons, makes a loud beeping noise, and has a detector that looks remarkably like a microphone), and various sheets of radioactive shielding (great for forts!). My advice is to provide duplicates so that the child can play happily with the non-contaminated versions. EXTRA TIP: get a Geiger counter with a mute option – trust me, you will thank me later.

5. Biohazard Area and Disposal
Really now. If you’ve read the definition of “biohazard” carefully, you’d have already realized that your child’s front and back end are part of this category. It’s almost as if the whole lab can be your diaper changing area, which in my opinion is wonderfully convenient. Score one for technology.

[Science Creative Quarterly, November 8th, 2007 – link]

This is a call for outstanding candidates to apply for a tenure track assistant professor position within the context of the Department of [subject name] at the [institution name]. The successful applicant is expected to work in areas of interest to current faculty members, to interact with related groups within our network and to have demonstrated ability in producing research material of excellent quality and interest.

Due to the competitive nature of this process, we ask that all candidates at the very least meet the following criteria:

The candidate’s current area of specialty must contain at least fourteen syllables.

The candidate’s expertise must speak naturally to collaborations with the disciplines of science history, Jungian philosophy, international peacekeeping, French Canadian politics, molecular genetics, early 80s pop music criticism, and West African cuisine.

The candidate must be able to “flex arm hang” for a minimum of twelve minutes.

The candidate must exhibit no more than two degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.

The candidate must be able to rub their tummy and pat their head at the same time.

The candidate must be, in no uncertain terms, hot.

In addition, short listed candidates will be subjected to a rigorous interview process that will likely involve puppetry, ultimate fighting, and some interpretative dance techniques. This, of course, might be televised nationally on CBS, so it is advisable that all applicants prepare in advance for these skill sets.

The successful applicant will covet a salary that will commensurate with experience and research record, but realistically is dependant on an obligation to play as the principle string in the University’s Chinese Orchestra during the first three years of his/her track.

We will also endeavor to provide the applicant with reasonable research space, and note that we have one of the country’s best supply of camping gear, should this be an issue. We do however ask that successful candidates will themselves provide start up funds to the sum of $1000, which must be used within 48 hours. During that period, you will, of course, be wearing brightly covered overalls and have access to a skilled carpenter who will almost certainly be just as hot as you.

The [institution name] is one of the leaders in North America with strong connections with many well regarded institutes, and we look forward to continuing this tradition with this placement. We hire on the basis of merit and are committed to employment equity. We encourage all qualified persons to apply; however citizens and permanent residents will be given priority. No losers please.

[Make, November 2007]

If you happen to be living in rural Bolivia, building a water pump isn’t going to include a visit to the local hardware store. Nor could one assume being able to plug into a power grid to operate your machine. So how do you get water?

This was the challenge given to team members, Kara Serenius, Hessam Khajeei, Galvin Clancey, and Gaby Wong, a team of students determined to create a safe mechanism of ground water recovery and hopefully win a prize at the same time.

The team was competing in the first annual Designs for a Sustainable World, hosted by Engineers Without Borders, and the University of British Columbia’s Sustainability Office.

Student teams were asked to create an object to address a social economic challenge , building it in a short timeframe and from what could only be described as garbage. Basically, this was akin to an ultra sustainable episode of Junkyard Wars, with a heavy dose of social responsibility.

The design process for their solution – a human powered treadle pump – necessitated a serious look at the development challenges within Bolivia, as well as a survey of the available trash you find in a university setting (lumber, metal rods, plastic piping, etc).

A total of 12 teams were armed with a few power tools and given time to plan solutions. Their task varied from increasing peanut processing efficiencies in Bangladesh to devising ways to lower carbon dioxide emissions in China; helping a rural Belarus farm lower their dependence on fossil fuels to capturing fresh water from the misty climes of coastal Ireland.

After frantic planning, a fairly detailed schematic of the treadle pump was produced. On the day of the event, six hours of frantic construction culminated in the final creation. In the end, not only did the pump win first prize, but it also generated the loudest cheer when Wong stepped up on the pump and demonstrated that it did, indeed, work.

“The success of the event and the motivation of the students involved are both living proofs of the desire of today’s youth to have a positive impact on the world of tomorrow.” Says Yifeng Song, one of the events coordinators. And the possibility of a little more fresh water isn’t bad, either.

[with Benjamin Cohen, Science Creative Quarterly, October 12, 2007 – link]

Mission Statement, 2007


“At Intelligent Design Biotech Corporation, we work around his watchmaker’s clock to pursue biotech solutions to those improbable imperfections of his work here on earth.”

– – –

Okay all IDBC Employees:

Let’s go let’s go let’s go. IDBC is finally on its legs. We’re trained, we’re hyped, we’ve got that sharp-eyed Focus on the Family Approved ID curriculum. We’re big time primed to speak for and as God. So let’s make it happen, show those soon Left Behind what education is all about. God up people, let’s go, God up.

As you know, we’ve got work stations for everyone. God-stations, more or less. So we better all of us get acquainted with the guys we brought on board for this venture. From the front, then, a quick review of the acolytes at the top. If you will. And so on and so forth.

Mark will be up front, persuasively deep in analysis. He’s already one of our finest biochemists, a high level amino-proselytizer. Master of the grant proposal. He’s isolating a therapeutic from tissue obtained from our most devout. It’s blasphemously technical, true, but we believe in results people. Results. We’re gonna be using an Acts 2:17 protocol, and if it’s slow going, we’ve got like 6 kegs of Holy Water in the back. You never know with these things, is our point.

Behind Mark is John. He’s new too, but just as amped up and highly touted. He’s organizing our human cloning project. Not for the faint of heart. Or public release. Keep a lid on it for now, ‘kay? John was telling me before, this thing about how human cloning is somatic cell something nuclear transfer, which, I don’t know what it means, but he was real confident when he said it. It’s like, it’s when what the heathens call “DNA”–secular speak for the watermark of God–is taken from human tissue–secular speak for the Kleenex of God–injected into an empty egg cell, and then into a host mother’s uterus. Jeepers, right? I mean, and it only gets more complicated after that. All I’m saying is if you want to know more, just open your pocket King James to that long boring part in the middle. It’s basically all there.

I know, you’re thinking maybe it’s a bit too resurrection-like. But in the face of God, lo, and we are fearless, or something like that. It’s in Revelation, no? You gotta know that any human clones we get out of this won’t technically be the same individual, even if genetically identical. They still grow and age; still have their own experiences and memories, their own Church Camp hook-ups. I mean, Cain and Abel were different? You feel me? So let’s us rest assured–and we have to make this point clear to the biblico-investors–making a clone of the deceased is, in our faith-based opinion, not at all like resurrection. (Though, we were riffing in the break room, me and Damian–it might make a pretty good practical joke. You know, “SURPRISE! I bet you thought I was dead!” That would be funny. Jesus loved jokes. On a more serious note, though, this is why we’ll have a Pastor on staff 24/7.)

Okay. Luke is our creative one. Curly hair, has those denim shorts, still drives a Chevy. He’ll be leading our third start-up project. Yep, he’s the microscope guy you prayed for. We all read about that “Face of Jesus” he found on a mammary tissue slide. It’s hands down miraculous! For us, it means the product line opportunities coming from Luke’s station are endless. Beaucoup evangi-customers. I just made that up, you like that? Evangel-customers, evangi-cust, evangelimers. I’ll work on it. Anywho. We’re not talking Virgin Mary potato chips or grilled cheese Messiahs or shower door stains looking like Moses parting the Red Sea. We’ve got high quality techno-theistic stuff, the kind you’re not gonna get from those Fortune 500 secular humanist labs. Oh, and we’ve got that shipment of myrrh stain arriving from the Kansas office to help clarify these images.

At the back here is Matthew. His workbench’s kind of set away–say what up Matthew!–but he is probably our best shot for some buzz from the PTL Weekly Business Report. Matthew’s working on our B.M.L.G. gene therapy initiative. This one changes a guy’s genetic code, so that he or she–“he” mostly, let’s be real here–can actually “Be More Like God.” Marketing guys coined that. Pretty sweet, eh? In truth, our Numbers guys are saying this’ll be our most popular service. Lord knows the fourth-quarter projections put it at 37% of gross revenue. We’re giving our clients the option to be all knowing, to be all powerful, to alter reality, create essences, and all that crap. Cha-ching.

It’s true, yes, in the beta testing we only put out some minor God-like emulations. By playing with testosterone levels, more or less, fidgeting with the patriarchy, if you will. Made real progress with anger-creation, deeper booming voices, all that lush facial hair. So yeah we’re not starting floods or locust swarms or winning playoff games or that jazz, but our clients can at least look and sound good trying.

Anyway, that oughta bring y’all up to speed. I’m serious, and this isn’t just me saying, this is the entire Board and all the investors and Gideon’s, Inc. and on, we have a golden opportunity here. A cash cow. Me, and we, just wanna say how very excited we are about the entire lab and all our potential. Dogma will pay the bills, God willing.

Now let’s be safe out there. And an Amen to that.

[Terry, September 25th, 2007 – link]

HAN SOLO: Well, so far, it seems like it’s a pretty good thing. Me, I’m not too up on the technology, but Chewie is pretty good at that stuff. Right Chewie?

CHEWBACCA: Uuuhhhggg. Rrrrggghhh. Hhhgg-aaa. Rrrrn.

HAN SOLO: Yeah, that’s a good point. Chewie just reminded me that this new system has significantly increased our energy efficiency. Which basically means less money spent at the pump, and more money for blasters and stuff like that.

CHEWBACCA: Rrrrrr! Aaaa-Ghhhuuurr. Uuuuhggg.

HAN SOLO: Right. And lower emissions too. Although, I don’t get why that would be such a big deal in deep space. Do greenhouse gases do anything out there anyway?

CHEWBACCA: Uuuuhhh-rrrr. Ghhhgggg. Uuugggg. Ggg. Rrrrr-uuuuaa. RRRR! NNHHHUUUR!

HAN SOLO: Alright, alright. Hey buddy, calm down. I’m not saying it’s not a problem. I know there’s good science behind all this stuff. It’s not like you haven’t told me about being environmentally conscious like a hundred times already. Look, I’m sorry buddy. I didn’t mean to sound negative. It’s not like I’m one of those Empire dudes.

CHEWBACCA: RRRR! Grrr uuur huuurgg RRRRRRRR!

HAN SOLO: Yeah, for sure. It would be pretty funny to watch you pull the arms off a one of those guys.

CHEWBACCA: Gghhnn. Nnnnh.

HAN SOLO: Uh huh. But listen, Chewie, seriously, O.K? How would lower emissions in deep space help? I just don’t get it, you know?

CHEWBACCA: Grrrrgh. Uuurhh. RRRggllhh. Hhuu-hhhuu. Auhhh-ghu-gh. RRRRR!. Ggg-rrr, uurrghh. HHGGU! Uuuuhh. Rrr, ggghhu. Huuhhhg. GGGrrr. Uhh?

HAN SOLO: Oh, O.K. That makes sense. Fewer emissions is still good because the Falcon still has a trajectory that leaves or returns to a planet. And that act still directly contributes to increasing greenhouse gas amounts within the confines of the planet’s atmosphere – hence, not helping with the global warming problem.

CHEWBACCA: Rrruuhh. Hggu. Rrr-ghhuu. Gggrr. Ggggrrr. Rrrrh. Uuuhhggr. RRRR! Uhhgghug.

HAN SOLO: Definitely. Global warming is bad in so many ways, not the least of which is that Tatooine is already too freakin’ hot.

CHEWBACCA: Rrrrrhhg. RRRGGH! Hhhuurrg. Ggrrgh. Huurg. Grrhhg. Guuuaaauu. AAAURRGG! RRRRGGG!

HAN SOLO: Yes, that is a good point to end this conversation. And as for me, basically, I’m pretty happy with the hybrid situation. I mean, as long as we can still make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, I’m content. Plus, I can still say stuff like “Punch it Chewie,” which is cool. Chewie loves shit like that, you know.

[Science Creative Quarterly, September 5th, 2007 – link]

My Fellow Americans.

I speak to you today on a matter of great importance, a matter that affects the very fabric of our nationhood. You no doubt know that it is the intention of the White House to increase America’s military engagement in Iraq – more bluntly, to send in even more of our fine citizens into the area. Today, I would like to speak to you, the American people, on why we have chosen such a route. I would like to speak to you on why we feel this is the best route – a hard but worthy choice in a political situation that represents one of our greatest challenges in history.

The reason that this is the best route is simple, my friends. The reason is math.

Now, I know this might trouble the skeptics out there, but the truth is, is that I’ve done a lot of math in my time. For instance, I know a thing or two about budgets, and budgets are the stuff of numbers. I know that a dime has ten cents, a dollar has one hundred, and that good old Abe Lincoln is worth 500 cents. I also know that when you add those numbers up you get 610. And maybe even more important, is the fact that I know all of these numbers are integers, a word that I am not afraid to use.

Here’s another example. Nowadays, I hear the word genetics a lot in all of this stem cell technology stuff. I can tell you that I know that genetics is about the DNA, which is composed of four different nucleotides. Not three, not five, but four. That’s also math. Now I might not know what the nucleotides are themselves, but the reality is, my friends, is that that’s just not important. That’s genetics and stem cell stuff, people – not math. And the reason for sending more troops into Iraq isn’t about genetics and stem cell stuff – it’s about math.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, then you should also know that I’ve done a lot of math in other aspects of my role as the President. Like the time when my religious friends said that human beings and the Earth were created in seven days, and my scientific friends said, “No, Mr President. If you include Homo sapiens, it actually took about four and a half billion years.”

And you know what I did? I took the mean value between the two – I said, “Let’s just say that the length of time is the average between the two, because then you get two and a quarter billion years old, and that’s a value I can live with.”

I’m also pretty good with graphs. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many weather graphs I’ve seen lately. Graphs about temperature, rainfall, wind speeds, graphs about gases of some sort. But it’s all good, and now I even like graphs. Graphs are like math in picture form. That helps because sometimes these graphs have fractions and decimal places, which are much more complicated than integers. Anyway, those graphs are all heading up. Which must be fine, because no-one wants to see a graph heading down, right?

So in the end, my fellow Americans, what I hope I’ve done is convince you that my credibility in math is sound. And like I said before, math is the best reason to send in more troops. Basically, if you have more good guys than bad guys, then that just works – it’s as simple as that.

And you must believe in this logic, because there’s even a little special math symbol for things having more than the other – it’s called “greater than” by the way, and it looks a little like a sideways “V.”

So there you have it: “greater than” has its own little symbol. Do you hear what I’m saying? I’m saying that my reasoning for sending more troops even has its own little math symbol, and really now, you can’t argue with that. Besides, isn’t that what we in America aspire to? To be “greater than,” integers and all.

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