Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Incredible Mr. Limpet

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Photo: Comedic Genius Don Knotts As Barney Fife

As a child I was always amazed that someone that looked as odd as Don Knotts was considered so darned funny. I remember many an evening in which my "Uncle Ed" would come over, and he and my dad would watch The Andy Griffith Show. They'd laugh, and laugh at Don Knotts.

As a child I didn't get all the fumbling, and bumbling, the nervous rattle made me a bit jittery. As an adult I realized that Don was doing an excellent job immersing himself in character, and had won several emmys in the process of making himself look like a bumbling fool - in the noble quest of making money, and even nobler quest of making people laugh.

Several years ago there was a Mayberry Reunion Special, and I recall watching a documentary on Don Knotts. Year after year he'd walk on stage in his tuxedo in front of standing ovations to fetch his emmy award for best comedic actor. I realized then that he must has been a genious.

The one show I'll remember him best for won't be any episode of the Andy Griffith show, but was the 1964 motion picture, The Incredible Mr. Limpet. I'll always remember watching that childrens movie every year. Mixing animation with video was rare then.

The local television stations seemed to have it in rotation (or perhaps it was sold to them as a summer kid's movie), and it would play during the summer year after year. The children of our family would excitedly watch the transformation of the bumbling, but nice Mr. Limpet into a fish! A patriotic fish at that!

Only in a child's mind, and in a children's movie, are such things possible.

One of Don's last movie performances was in Pleasantville. Pleasantville is one of my favorite movies. It doesn't ask much from an audience, and it is entertaining, and thoughtful. Sort of a pleasant movie. Don's character seemed positively nasty when things didn't turn out the way he planned - good job Don! It was good to see him in a classic show like Pleasantville.

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Photo: Don Knotts As Don Knotts (From His Own Website)

Part of his Biography aquired from CNN.Com appears below:

Knotts began his show biz career even before he graduated from high school, performing as a ventriloquist at local clubs and churches. He majored in speech at West Virginia University, then took off for the big city.

"I went to New York cold. On a $100 bill. Bummed a ride," he recalled in a visit to his hometown of Morgantown, where city officials renamed a street for him in 1998.

Within six months, Knotts had taken a job on a radio Western called "Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B Riders," playing a wisecracking, know-it-all handyman. He stayed with it for five years, then came his series TV debut on "The Steve Allen Show."

He married Kay Metz in 1948, the year he graduated from college. The couple had two children before divorcing in 1969. Knotts later married, then divorced Lara Lee Szuchna.

In recent years, he said he had no plans to retire, traveling with theater productions and appearing in print and TV ads for Kodiak pressure treated wood.

The world laughed at Knotts, but it also laughed with him.

He treasured his comedic roles and could point to only one role that wasn't funny, a brief stint on the daytime drama "Search for Tomorrow."

"That's the only serious thing I've done. I don't miss that," Knotts said.

Don Knotts was yet another representative of a kinder, and gentler time in U.S. comedy. He was a Greatest Generation World War II Vet, and a comedian who could get people to laugh without offending anyone, or without putting anyone down. Don Knotts dead at eighty one. You'll be missed, and remembered.

Here's are some Don Knotts links:

The Invisible Caucasians Of North America - 7300 B.C.

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Image: Edited Photo of Kennewick Man Sculpture*

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Spirit Cave Mummy/Nevada - Another Ancient North American Caucasoid**

I read an interesting CNN.Com article today focusing on Kennewick Man. The Kennewick Man is actually a ninety percent complete pile of bones currently under study by anthropologist, archaeologist, and forensic pathologist. The Kennewick pile of bones is in fact one of the most complete sets of skeletal remains of an ancient human living in North America from that date.

As I read the CNN.Com article I kept waiting for a mention that Kennewick man couldn't jump (apparently not fast enough, as he still had a clovis point lodged within his hip). Kennewick man was a Caucasian living in North America during a time from which only Caucasian remains have been found. Yet the article in no way ever touches upon this non-politically correct revision of our understanding of human migration to North America.


A team of 20 forensic scientists has been studying the skeleton, he said, and have concluded that the skull doesn't match those of Indian tribes living in the area.

"We know very little about this time period. Who the people were that were the earliest people that came to America," Owsley said. "We are finding out they were coming thousands of years earlier than we had thought," arriving not just over the Bering Strait but by boats and other means.

"This is a very rare discovery. You could count on your fingers the number of relatively complete skeletons from this time period," Owsley said.

Following discovery of the bones in 1996, the Umatilla, Yakama, Nez Perce and Colville tribes urged that the skeleton be reburied without scientific study. They argued that the bones were covered under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Scientists sued for a chance to study the remains and a federal court ruled there was no link between the skeleton and the tribes.

Reality Check:

Let's look at the first sentence of the article quoted above:

A team of 20 forensic scientists has been studying the skeleton, he said, and have concluded that the skull doesn't match those of Indian tribes living in the area.

Not only is there no mention that Kennewick Man was Caucasian, the sentence above fails to mention that no skulls matching those of Indian tribes have been found dating back to this early date. That's sort of a non-politically-correct little nugget that modern Indian tribes wanted to cover up so badly that two tribes fought legally to prevent Kennewick Man's bones from ever being scientifically studied. Instead the tribes demanded that this Caucasian man's bones be buried as soon as possible! They lost out in their attempt after a federal court judged that the modern tribes were not related to Kennewick Man.

The Next Line in the Article:

"We know very little about this time period. Who the people were that were the earliest people that came to America," Owsley said. "We are finding out they were coming thousands of years earlier than we had thought," arriving not just over the Bering Strait but by boats and other means.

Quoted above is Douglas Owsley, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. This is about as close as the article comes to revealing that something is not quite right about the way which we've previously viewed human migration to North America.

Once again no reference to Caucasians are made, instead the ambiguous word "they" is used. Also, the time frame is vague enough to lump together the relatively recent migration of "Indians" to North America with the much earlier migration of Caucasians to North America.

"They" came to North America thousands of years earlier than we had thought. But the sentence could factually read that Caucasians migrated to North America thousands of years earlier than any other group! There simply is no way for this anthropologist to state this in a politically correct way - and therefore he uses academic double speak.

At issue here isn't political correctness which is a form of thought, and speech control used by both liberals, and conservatives, it's the racist way in which this subject has been handled.

From the Indian Tribes which desparately tried to suppress the study, to the politically correct anthropologist (not wanting to offend the tribes), to the journalist handcrafting their articles (so as not to offend anyone) we see one concerted effort - to suppress the truth that Caucasians lived in North America thousands of years earlier than any other group discovered so far!

At this point there are approximately ten instances of ancient Caucasian remains discovered in North America - one dating to 11,000 years ago. Indian tribes rapidly descend upon these finds insisting that the remains be reburied without scientific study! All throughout the Clinton Administration several government agencies helped Indian tribes cover up the growing evidence that their ancestors were not the original human inhabitants of North America.

While I understand the fear which Indian tribes may have at the loss of status which this revision in history must usher in, it is important that we do what is honest, and scientifically validated. Truth must not be held captive by one ethnic minority in the name of religion. Study of these important remains, as they become available must be allowed to proceed, and the U.S. government must stop assisting those Indian tribes in their efforts to stop this important science, and historical discovery.

*Image Source for Kennewick Man

I edited the photograph of Kennewick Man Sculpture.

**Image Source for Spirit Cave Mummy

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Civil Unrest In Babylonia Today

Civilization isn't your ordinary computer game. It is not a game based upon gore, or sex, but it does involve destruction, and creation - on a global scale. It's design has lessons to teach. I'll share some of those lessons, despite their non-politically correct nature, as they sadly seem to reflect the world in which we live. Although hopefully not the world we must settle for.


In Civilization human players are presented with the opportunity to build their own civilizations from scratch. Players can spend enormous amounts of time, and intellectual energy making a never ending number of decisions. Decisions as basic as installing a sewage system in a city, or starting a secret program to develop the Atomic Bomb.


AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, and at the heart of Civilization is it's AI. AI is the program component within Civilization which assumes the role of all other Civilizations which the human decides to play against. Civilization can be played via the Internet against other human players as well.

AI, despite it controversial nature (some insist that it cheats), does a remarkable job.

War! What Is It Good For?

The AI also consistently pressures you to become an interventionist. No matter how much you'd rather be a peace loving hippy, start a peace, and love commune you'll find yourself embroiled in the darker side of human nature.

Pacifist will lose immediately. Even those players fortunate enough to develop their civilization on an island continent, far from other civilizations, will eventually through the passing of time, and the advancement of technology, end up confronting other civilizations - not all of them willing, or able to make compromises.

In the end war is the means of grabbing up the space, and natural resources any civilization needs to grow powerful. Eventually, as trade develops resources can be obtained in this manner, but trade doesn't seem to solve all problems in a world filled with civilizations hell bent on territorial acquistion.

Those Unprepared Get Wiped Out

No matter how much one may want to develop economically, scientifically, and socially unless one has a kick ass military of a large enough size your civilization is doomed.

Compromising Ethics Advantageous

My first reaction to another civilization's attempt to blackmail me into paying homage was an ideologically based refusal, but as I became a better player I recognized that paying tribute to other civilizations is a nifty way to avoid conflict, and to buy "friends" who otherwise would attack my civilization.

There were always aggressor civilizations hell bent on world domination, and eventually no amount of tribute would work, and so an attack was inevitable.

However, waiting for such an attack was rarely fun, or in one's own civilization's best interest. In fact by quietly waiting your turn you just allow your opponent to become stronger.

Bad Alliances & Unprovoked Wars Vital

Alliances always lead to war there really is no other way of looking at it, but without them your civilization may never survive for long.

Starting wars was always a messy thing, but inevitable even against other civilizations that have caused you no harm. In some cases you simply can't risk allowing another civilization's territory, and resources to fall into the hands of another aggressor civilization. In the end stabbing your best friend in the back becomes inevitable.

Good Guy Wears Black Hat

Total war is messy. Vast cities which took hundreds, even thousands of years get razed in wars. Economic development is wiped out, and take decades to rebuild.

Genocide A Temptation

Once your weapons are sufficiently advanced using airpower, or nuclear weapons to destroy whole cities becomes tempting, but it has drawbacks. Drawbacks which only democratic civilizations, and those that care about the environment consider. Dictatorships possessing such weapons of mass destruction use them without much consideration.

Differences Lead To Conflict & Nothing More

Religion, Racism, Nationalism, Heredity, Imperialism, Idealism, Paranoia, and Greed were motivating factors within the AI justifying war, and conflict. War was never ending no matter at what level of technological development even when prosperity was achieved for all civilizations. With weapons of greater killing capacity in a world of competing Civilizations only greater levels of misery, and bloodshed resulted.

There Can Be Only One (New World Order)

In the end it is possible to take over the planet through military means, and create one world order in which peace, and prosperity are finally achieved.

Game Evolution

The game's evolution continues. FireAxis is currently selling Civilization 4, and with each version it becomes more realistic, more complex, and more troubling.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Under the Influenza of a Bad Star!

I'm about to advocate necklaces of garlic be passed out to everyone in the city of Springfield, the Village of Jerome, Leland Grove, Southernview, Grandview, Pleasant Plains, Chatham - heck why not all of Central Illinois!

Not everyone, but around one in three people, at work are currently struck with the dreaded influenza!

CDC Link

I ran out, and did the correct thing last Fall by getting vacinated, and it probably did two things:

A. Delayed onset.

B. Reduced Severity.

C. Did I say just two things, well here's a third, lessened duration.

In fact if I hadn't insisted on running a fan during the winter I probably would not have become dehydrated (overnight on the night it was so darned cold, and the air so darned dry) to the point where my immune system became overcome - leaving me prey to the dreaded influenza.

This flu was misery! Chills, aches, weakness, sore throat, lung congestion.

But I suspect that I didn't have it as bad as other's I've heard from, and about. Many of those folk were hit with higher temps, while I barely broke a sweat. I was out for three days, essentially ruining my three day (paid holiday) weekend, while many of those folk who skipped out on the shot are still struggling after nearly ten days!

That doesn't mean I should have gone to work today, but I did take a sick day on Tuesday, and actually wanted to get back into the world of the living today - odd of me?

In the meantime I guess I'm immune now, but while on the phone today I talked with folk from around the nation (USA), and I can say this virus is everywhere!

It's not going away, and more than likely it will have its way with you - if you get just a bit overtired, dehydrated, or stressed out. I'm assuming all of us have had, or will have contact with the virus itself, so it's just a matter of giving it a chance to overwhelm.

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Image: Ahhh Cream of Wheat

So stock up on all the medicines, and comfort foods, and if you come under the influenza of a bad star don't panic it will most likely pass in a week - leaving you a wisp of what you were, but someone definately more convinced of the frail nature of your own life - a lesson we all can use from time to time.

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Image: Ahhh Chicken Noodle Soup

It might also scare the crap out of you to think what would have happened to you if you kept getting worse over the course of just a day or two.

That thought crossed my mind. What if this was bird flu? When you're weak, and in pain, and only want to sleep, its very easy to imagine how easy it would be to slip out of life's embrace without much of a fight.

If it had been a mutation of the bird flu my chances would have been fifty-fifty that I'd be alive today to write this. I sure hope the government that gave up the underwhelming response to Katrina, and who still have not secured our ports, or borders years after 9/11 are trustworthy enough to follow through on the bird flu issue! Because otherwise there's going to be a very big drop in the cost of real estate - globally!

Oh yes, this whole influenza experience explains why I haven't posted in awhile.

But I'm back my loyal readers, I'm back!

Here's an interesting Influeza related link:


Image Source Info:

Used under "freeuse" for scientific, and literary purposes only, and without express permission of originating source. Copyright restrictions may apply. Use of these images on this blog does not imply that they are in any way included in the copyright that covers other materials within this post, or on this blog. For additional information I've included the following links.

Cream of Wheat:

Chicken Soup:

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Why Is Central Illinois So Flat?

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Image: Global Warming Art - Illinois State House

Few people seem to understand that global warming will actually lead to an abreviation of the current interglacial period. It's never been a matter of debate whether or not the current interglacial period would end, for that is as sure a bet as the coming of the next ice age.

The vast majority of Earth's recent past (in geological terms) has been a period of very long ice ages, puntuated by very brief warm periods.

We are currently living within one of those brief warm spells. Statistically speaking we should be at the end of an average interglacial period - aproximately ten thousand years, and will soon be heading into another ice age lasting approximately one hundred thousand years. There are mini-ice ages, but let's not get complicated here, as I'm just speaking in general terms.

By releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at the levels which we have over the last one hundred years, the immediate effect is an increase in global temperatures. As we have witnessed in just our lifetimes glaciers which are thousands of years old are melting at an incredible rate.

One might conclude that this global warming should result in a warmer future, but by melting glaciers we will change the ratio of salt water to freshwater layers within the North Atlantic. This change is cyclical in nature - we are only accelerating it.

As this change occurs warmer waters carried by the gulf stream will no longer travel as far north as we currently see, nor will colder waters be carried back south along the gulf stream.

The result will be a rapid plunge in ocean temperatures in the polar regions - a change which has always in the past ushered in yet another glacial age.

There really isn't anything humans can do on the scale we are talking about to prevent this massive climate shift into the next glacial period. However, it is noteworthy that the rise of human civilization, and all of recorded history has occurred in the brief interglacial period in which we now live.

North America, and Europe will once again become covered in ice hundreds of meters thick, and life will be forced to retreat into the southern hemisphere.

One would think that with our current understanding of the consequences of our actions that we would do something to curb the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Nations around the world have heeded their scientist warnings, but in the United States the government is corrupted by energy industry lobbyist, and corrupt politicians have chosen to lie to the public by denying global warming even exist.

If future generations could speak in this time, I'm sure they would decry the greed, corruption, and irresponsible behavior on the part of our political leadership in this important matter.

Hopefully, as the American people become educated to the truth of climate change they'll begin to recognize their responsibility to the future, and pressure politicians to shift this nation's economy away from its addiction to fossil fuels.

Photo: I've included a fantasy image of my own creation showing the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois surrounded by a barren ice landscape. I doubt any of our historic buildings would still be around by then, unless someone in the future decided to move them farther south, but I thought this was a nice image.

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