Saturday, September 20, 2003

I'm not going to dignify David Blaine's current London stunt with a link, because it's easy enough for anyone to track down, but I'm truly offended by it. It took me several days to figure out why.

I'm sure it takes exceptional concentration to go without food for several weeks. Or, perhaps it takes a sneaky (and equally exceptional) support team to manage to smuggle food to someone living in a glass cage and provide the illusion of a six-week fast. In short, I'm sure the guy's good at whatever it is he does. But, given that (a.) there are so many people in the world who are truly going hungry, and (b.) people suffering from eating disorders are hardly fair figures of fun, I just can't understand the concept of deliberate self-starvation as showmanship.

As a political demonstration to draw awareness towards world hunger, yes. As a fund-raising stunt to benefit food relief agencies or for research on anorexia nervosa -- oh, hell, why not? But starving oneself in public (or pretending to do so) as an act of self-promotion? Oh, come on, David. Go bend some spoons with your mind or something. It's a much funnier gimmick, and a lot less insensitive.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

The monarch butterflies have both taken off for (we hope) bigger and better things. The first one, a male, emerged yesterday, and the second, a female, today. (Contrary to my dire predictions based on her larval behavior, she did not fly backwards.) We've had excellent monarch weather here in southwest Michigan, fortunately, and we have four butterfly bushes (Buddleia) that really draw the pre-migratory feeding frenzy. There have been a couple of occasions this week where we've seen over a dozen monarchs at a time, plus the occasional painted lady or silver-spotted skipper, on a single shrub.

Rearing a couple of butterflies shouldn't be such a big deal to me, since I've reared literally thousands of insects for my research and know many other people who have done the same. There is something wonderfully personal, though, about taking a caterpillar or two into your home, feeding and sheltering them, and watching them mature and eventually fly away. I love my lab work, but it's always good to be reminded that nature is indeed personal; we're part of it, we rely on it, and it's probably of selective value that most of us (at least to some extent) are capable of enjoying it.

Monday, September 15, 2003

For some reason, the spam brigade now seems determined to sell me a diploma-mill doctorate. I really, really wonder where they bought this particular mailing list. On the other hand, the university keeps sending me flyers advertising dissertation-completion workshops. At the very least, they should have access to a much more reliable mailing list.

Also, though this has been understandably scooped in entertainment news by the recent deaths of Johnny Cash and John Ritter, I was much more affected to hear about the equally recent death of Harry Goz, the voice of Captain Murphy on Sealab 2021. Though I rather liked Johnny Cash's music, I don't own any of his recordings. I can't say I ever saw so much as a single episode of Three's Company (nor anything else in which John Ritter ever appeared). But, I've probably seen every episode of Sealab. Holy crap! Miss you, Harry.